Chapter 6: Quiet Desperation
Mike slowly opened his eyes, instantly feeling a slight stinging sensation from the sun pouring in through his blinds. He attempted to bring his hand up to wipe away the deposits of 'sleep' from below his eyelids, but he was caught off guard by how weak he was. Merely lifting his arm was a chore. He sat there, taking slow deep breathes. He considered getting up, but he had no reason to do so. He simply lay on his bed, happy that for those few moments he could be without thought. Glad that he could simply wait in simple meditation. Of course like all things in this world, his focus began to deteriorate, and thoughts of worry and doubt began to creep in his mind.
Mike let out a heavy sigh and began to stand. He made his way to the bathroom with a slow, deliberate walk, almost a stagger. He looked at himself in the mirror. He stared into his own cold, bloodshot eyes. What he saw filled him with fear, yet he stood there, looking at himself. He saw hidden deep within his own weary complexion his future, or rather, no future. He felt as though he was already looking at a skeleton. As if the cancer had already taken him, and he was merely the remnants of the forsaken. Mike looked down into his sink, part of him wanted to vomit, while another part of him wanted to lie down, but his stomach had other ideas. With a loud growl, Mike's stomach reminded him that no matter his appetite, he required food to live.
After using the bathroom, he made his way downstairs to get food. He pondered the irony in him eating now. He ate to stay alive, yet here he was on his way to death's door. Slowly Mike's thoughts became more cryptic as he began to tap into the irony of anyone eating at all. Why bother? In the end everyone was doomed, so why bother sustaining your life at all. In the end, everyone dies and everything is for naught. As Mike approached the kitchen he could hear the voice of his mom, he didn't know what she was saying, and he really didn't care.
"In the end… "Mike thought to himself as he entered his kitchen. His mother, sister, and even his baby brother had descended into a pit of silence upon him entering. Mike couldn't have imagined them having a very positive conversation anyway, in light of recent events. Regardless, Mike felt like a plague. Now, not only was he doomed to die a slow, painful death; his very life would become an irritant to anyone who had the misfortune of being around him. Maybe he was better off dying, if not for him, but for everyone else.
Mike opened his refrigerator and grabbed a bottle of water as well as a small bowl filled with leftovers of some sort. He then grabbed a fork and began to walk out of the kitchen, not even making eye contact with any of his family. He couldn't bear to see the look's on their faces in anymore detail than what the corners of his eyes would allow, and no one could blame him.
"Michael…?" His mom asked with an almost timid voice.
"Huh?" Mike responded with little emotion, stopping at the entrance of the kitchen.
"How are you doing?" His mom asked him, already knowing the answer.
"Um… I'm dying." Mike said, once again with little to no emotion. There was no sarcasm in the statement, nor was there any humor intended, but as Mike said it, he almost laughed. He had no idea why, but he found some type of humor in the statement. Possibly the sheer bluntness of the statement, or maybe the humor was nestled deep in its inappropriate behavior. Or maybe, it was him, beginning to go mad.
As Mike walked to the stairs, food and water in hand, he began to deeply regret his response. Slowly, it dawned on him how much that probably hurt his family. He wanted to turn around, to apologize to them, but he didn't know how. He had no idea what he would say. He figured he would probably end up making it worse, so he went back up to his room to lie down and eat. By no means did he want to eat, but he needed to. He didn't know or care why; he just knew it needed to be done.
When Mike had finished forcing the food into his body, he lay on his bed, no TV, no music, nothing but the sounds of the birds chirping outside. He attempted to control his thoughts, but he was so exhausted. The very task of focusing was too great a feat to manage at the time, but in truth, this didn't really bother Mike. At least sitting in a cold atrophy was better than downright suffering. Mike wasn't sure if that counted as looking at life more positively, but it was all he could manage right now.
As minutes turned to hours, and Mike's loneliness grew, he began to stare at his phone. He needed to talk to somebody, anybody. He thought about talking to his family. It wouldn't have been that hard since his mother had fairly consistently found her way to his door, knocking to see if he was alright. Yet, it didn't feel right to him. He didn't want to talk to his mother, and there was no way he could talk to his sister or his brother. He considered talking to Blur, but he was at Lucy's house.
For the next several hours he thought intently on who to call. He knew that if he called someone, he was going to have to explain the whole situation, and he didn't really feel like doing that. Simultaneously, he knew that he needed to talk to someone because he couldn't take his self-destructive reflections any longer, so he got up and grabbed the wireless house phone on the other end of his room. He then went back to his bed and sat on the edge. He stared at the numbers on the phone and continued to ponder on who to call.
"Hmmm…" Mike thought to himself. "Maybe Lucy… No, she wouldn't understand. I could try Paulo. Ugh, I don't think I could deal with that right now. Daisy? No, she would probably freak out… Hmm, I could call Lucy. Well, no, I don't want to worry the pets. Abbey would probably understand, but… I don't know. I suppose I could call David… or not. There is always Lucy. NO, I'm NOT calling Lucy… I guess I could call Sandy. Oh God, I don't think I have the heart to tell her…" Mike debated with himself.
"Alright, think Michael." Mike said to himself as he clutched the phone in his hands and closed his eyes. "I've got to figure out who I'm closest too. No… Okay, let's think of who I've hung around with the most. No. I've got to think about who I've had the most fun with. NO. I've got to think about… about… who I've…" Mike's train of thought slowly came to a stop as he realized something. The same person kept coming to mind each time. Ironically, it was the last person he wanted to call next to Sandy. Mike wasn't sure if he owed it to himself, or to her, but without reason or explanation Mike began to dial Lucy's phone number on his phone. He could feel his heart begin to beat fast. He wondered how she would react, and almost instinctively he began to regret what he was doing. He wanted to stop, to call someone else, but he knew if he stopped now he would hang up his phone, and no other calls would be made, and the one thing scarier then exposing himself to Lucy was being alone.
Finally, Mike finished dialing the number. He hit the 'talk' button on the phone and listened to the dialing noises coming from the receiver down by his lap. He slowly raised the phone to his ear as he listened to the ringing. Mike's doubt slowly grew as his wish to hang up the phone became more and more prevalent. The only thing keeping him from doing it was the thought of being alone, the one thing he didn't think he could possibly bare any longer. To hang up, or not to hang up, Mike found himself in an internal struggle as he braced himself for the phone to be answered.
After a few rings, Mike's doubts began to take priority and he had almost convinced himself no one was there when someone answered.
"Hello?" A female voice, most likely Lucy's mom, said over the phone. Mike simply sat there, wanting to say something, but not knowing what to say.
"Hellllloooo? Anyone there?" Her mom asked again.
Mike could feel his heart speed up as his hand tightly gripped the phone. He didn't know why he couldn't ask for Lucy, he just couldn't do it. He knew that once he told Lucy, or anyone for that matter, about his issues, he would be constantly reminded of it. All he wanted to do was escape, to stop thinking about cancer and death. The only reason he had called in the first place was because this was beginning to seem impossible, but he knew once he told someone, it would be completely impossible. So he sat there in silence. He didn't want to give up his pitiful amount of control over the situation, the ability to suffer on his own terms, but he also was beginning to think that maybe if he surrendered, just a little bit, he wouldn't suffer so much.
"Alright, who the hell is this?" Her mom asked in anger.
At first, Mike was a bit taken aback by the sudden hostility, but he quickly realized that he had been breathing deeply into the phone the whole time. Panicking, Mike hit the 'End' button on the phone and clutched it in his hand. He sat completely still for several moments, almost as if he was waiting for a conformation to make sure his retreat from the phone call had gone successfully. After realizing that indeed, the call had been disconnected, the situation slowly began to dawn on him. He slowly lowered the phone to his lap and stared at it. He was alone once again, and he didn't know if he had the energy to make another call. Mike let out an exasperated sigh and sat in place, staring at the phone. He was tired of lying down, but he didn't know what else to do.
Suddenly, the phone rang, startling Mike out of his depressed stupor. He quickly answered.
"Hello?" He answered after the first ring.
"What the fuck?"