I am staring at a blank Word page on my laptop. I feel the need – the urge – to write down something, and yet I know not what to write about. It’s weird; never once have I suffered from Writer’s Block as I do now. It’s been a near two weeks since the thought of writing down anything crossed my mind. The doctor seemed pleased about this. He advised I try taking much time off and try my hands on something – anything – else that’s different rather than reach into my head for something to write about. He means well, this doctor of mine. Sometimes I can’t help but think of him as full of shit.
My hands are splayed across the keyboard. I pray for something to come to me...
My finger touches the key ‘I’; my eyes glance at the single, centralised letter.
And then what? I don’t know ... I can’t say ... suddenly I feel the need – the urge – to take one of my happy pills.
The phone on my desk suddenly rings, startling me. I don’t recognise the number blinking on the screen, but that doesn’t stop me from answering the call.
“Hello?” I mutter into the mouthpiece.
“Michael, it’s me.” The sound of my sister floats into me ear; she seems to be crying at the other end.
“Mom’s dead, Michael. She passed away in her sleep sometime around midnight. There was nothing anyone could do.” A brief moment of silence and then: “Michael ... Michael, do you hear me?”
“Yes sis,” the sound of my voice doesn’t change one bit. “I hear you just fine.”
We talk for about another minute before the line goes dead. I return my fingers to the laptop’s keyboard and type:
Mother died last night ... and I did not feel a thing.
I do not want to go out but I know I have to. The wind outside is strong and blustery as usually it is during this late time of the year. It would have been preferable if I take my car out but it wouldn’t be appropriate, especially when I’d popped a happy pill while I was inside; cars and depressant pills don’t mix very well. I rolled my scarf around my neck, dropped my hands inside my jacket pockets and strolled towards the mouth of my street before waiting for a taxi to take me to Cape City Memorial.
It is drizzling lightly by the time I arrive there. My sister and her husband are waiting for me at the lobby and she come over and hugs me with teary eyes, sputtering on my shoulder while I hug her back.
“Oh Michael, I’m so glad you came,” she sniffled.
“It’s alright, sis. Everything’s alright. I wish I’d seen her before ...” I can’t find the words to complete the sentence. Really I wasn’t looking forward to seeing mom before or even now that she was no more. She’s been stuck here at Memorial since she caught a stroke a week ago, her third in six months. It was a miracle she’d lived this long.
I notice George inching closer towards us. I let go of Hannah so as to shake his hand. “How’re you doing, George?”
“Fine, Mike. Just fine.”
He always calls me Mike, no matter how many times I’ve stressed on him not to. I don’t know if whether to take it up with him or not; gladly I would love to...
“How’re about you, Michael?” Hannah asked me. “How’re you holding up with ... yourself?”
I shrug. “I get the shakes every now and then, but it’s not as serious as it used to be. I’ve got the pills to thank for that.”
We leave the lobby and walk up their stairs to meet with the doctor who’d been treating mother since she arrived here. He too is just as sorry-looking about everything like he actually knew her or something. He escorts us to a separate room to view mother’s body. I lift up the piece of white cloth that’s draped over her body and while Hannah breaks into fresh sputter of tears, I merely stand there staring at mother’s unsmiling features. Her skin is pale, her lips pursed like she’s about to deliver another ‘mother & son’ diatribe as she was prone to have with me. It especially got worse after dad died. Lucky him.
I stand there for how long, I can’t say, staring down at her lifeless features. A part of me wishing so much for her to come awake and hug me ... tell me how much she misses me ... and how happy to know I’m alive since my fateful car accident a month ago. Another part very much glad she won’t be coming back to bother me anymore...
... and still I felt nothing. Nothing at all.
I’m back in my quiet home, in my quiet study, looking through what I’ve written. I’ve managed to write three pages of work – that’s good for a start. I glance out my window. The drizzle that had been falling lightly earlier had risen into a downpour.
I get up in search of another happy pill.