Author's Note: Re-upload because I've decided to start writing again. This will be a test for me meeting deadlines, something I've never been particularly wonderful at accomplishing, but I guess it's something I'll have to learn at some point. This is me throwing myself in at the deep end.
If you're looking for a happy ending, you won't find one here.
n., pl., memento mori;
A reminder of death or mortality.
A reminder of human failures or errors.
She is running.
Footfall after footfall, I hear her pounding down the long hall leading to the front door, the sound echoes and reverberates throughout the house. Dropping my grandmother's ashen, leathery hand, I follow her. My bare feet slap against the wooden floor in a sticky rhythm, my short and tired legs covering only half the distance my mother takes in a stride.
The setting June sun slants through the window above the front door, casting the foyer into a patterned glow of hued and fragmented light that catches specks of suspended white dust, floating peacefully amid the confusion. For a moment, I can see her running towards the rays, as if darting into the sun. The tendrils of sunlight reach for her, wrapping and enclosing her in a golden glow, the fingers of light threading around her. She disappears for a moment, enveloped in the ethereal radiance.
I throw my hands up to block the scorching sun, suddenly imagining it searing into my flesh and burning me to the bone. I yell for her, calling her name. She answers with a strangled cry of her own.
Her voice is anguished, pained. I'm overcome with the will to go to her, to circle my arms around her shoulders and tell her I love her like the words mean something – as if they are healing. 'To bits', I would add and kiss her hair. I reason that if I could do that, if I could just get to her, everything would be alright.
I drop my hands from my eyes and blink against the offensive rays. Spots of blue and green cloud my vision, but I can see her. A silhouette against the light, she is standing still – a heroic figure. Her shoulders jump with labored breaths as another choking wail tears from her throat, echoing in the cavernous hallway.
From my childish height, the Georgian window is a halo. A flame that burns around her, casting me in shadow - an eclipse.
It's traumatic, it's painful. It is the carefully constructed and perfected ideals of my young life falling to ruin. It is the foundation upon which I built my faith crumbling to a breathy dust. It is my mother, my strength, caving in and collapsing into madness.
She was my strength, but she had none to call her own.
For the first time, I realize that my mother is human. Like me, she is vulnerable and mortal. Age was the only weapon I had given her to only thing that could fight off her inevitable death. The fact that she was my mother was her only defense. I realized then that she was not infallible, not invincible. She was human. She was nothing special, when it came down to it. She was no longer the immortal, protective force that I had stood as my white knight and savior, but a frail and delicate child – standing in drowning tears in the hallway.
She was broken down to pieces. I wondered briefly if I had followed through on my promise, if I had truly loved her to bits.
I can feel my grandmother near me, the familiar smell of fresh peppermint and sweet apples wafting to me. Feebly, I hold out my hand. I feel her long nails graze my skin and I know she is there, watching her daughter fall apart. She is as helpless as I am.
My mother moves then. She is a streak of color, darting towards the door to her right. It's gray with dust, her hand prints dragging white streaks of clarity across its neglected surface. Her pale hand grasps the brass doorknob, her fingers pale with tension, the blood in her veins disrupted.
She pulls, but the door does not give. She tries again, this time setting her free hand against the wooden door frame for some sort of leverage. Still, the door does not surrender.
She looks at it in disbelief, a pleading look that chills me to the bone. Then there is a moment of frenzied shaking, of strangled yells and guttural snarls and punches raining down on the wooden surface, her fists pounding and fingernails bleeding, before she falls silent and exhausted from her assault. Her hand trails the length of the door as she slips to her knees, raking against the grainy timber. She rests her head against it, whispering as if spilling secrets to the room, swimming in the newly roused dust. Her hand falls from the doorknob and to her side, trembling upon release. She turns her head from the wood and stares through me, her cheeks and lips red – her eyes black.
"It's him," she whispers, her eyes burrowing holes in my chest, her lips barely moving. "It has to be him."
Her lips part wider and there is static. I wonder if perhaps I'm dreaming. Is the ringing merely a merciless alarm come to rouse me from this nightmare? Was my brain short circuiting, were my ears deceiving me? But as she tumbles gracelessly to the floor, curled against the threshold and shaking in violent shiver that knocks her knees against each other with cracking force, I realize my hearing is perfectly fine.
There is no static, only screaming.