That Which

Lonely Christopher


Mom said she raised a good boy, a fine son. I am that which she speaks on. I am glad to have been born. It was luck I was born of her and not of a mom that was in a house that was in a part of town far from the mom I did get and love still. I could have been raised up in some place quite bad. I would be dead now. But I have the mom I have. I have her still. She raised me. We used to drive by some of the homes I did not like in our car, mom and me, when the homes still stood, and I would look out at each of them and think on who could be in such a place. We would not stop and go in them. We would go back where we live. I know I am a good boy as mom told me and still says. I know I am in the best place I could be. I do love mom so. I did not care so much for dad. He stayed in his room most days and at night. He would not let me in if I had come to knock for him to say hi. He would not look at me if he could help it. He oft did not care to hear it when I said I loved him, as I had to say to him to be a good boy. I guess he was sad that I got sick. He got lone and blue and full of pain. It was like this since my head broke. I don’t know why that is. I can’t tell why dad did what he did. I’m not sure why he frowned and would not talk to me when I got my skull took off. I wished he would have changed back to how he used to be. I prayed for it at church when mom drove me there. I don’t get why dad had to act like he had got more hurt in him than I had when it is me who fell down. I tried to be real good when it came to all my pain so as not to make mom fret for me. I shoved all the pain hid in my gut where mom can’t see it. I kept it thus most of the time. I did not let it out when she was in the same room. I still keep it safe that way these days. Dad did not learn that trick. I wished he learned since I did not want mom to fret for him or me or at all. I told mom I love her and she said it back, of course. I did not quite love dad, and sure did not like him, not the way he was in the end, but I thought it was my job to be nice and the right thing to do was let him know his son loved him all the same, true or not. Oft I dreamed he was the one that which spilt all down the front steps of the house. It could have been him that morn, felled on some ice he did not see when he went out the door. He could have met my fate in place of me. That stone step was loosed on the stairs all the same and if he stepped on it first it would have been his cracked skull and leaked brains and not mine. I’d have liked that, I guess. But it was not to be. I knew then as I still do that that which has been don’t change, but yet I dreamt he took that fall and not me. I was so pained and it was so hard to think on what needs done, but I did not let it show like dad did. Dad would act like he had got it worse, though he was not sick from a real fall like mine. I did not know what to think all the time. One time I was a bright boy, mom said, but time came I knew that’s gone now, though I’m still her prize, mom said: a good boy, a fine son. I would not frown in front of mom like dad did when he got the chance. That made mom fret to see him do. She could not make him smile like she used to do. Most of the time he did not let her in his room at all, much like how it was he was rude to me. I guess there was once since my bad luck when I saw him for more than a brief pause. He came out of his room for hours the time when he heard me watch a show where two planes flew down and hit a tall house and its twin house in a town I don’t know the name of but that which used to be near here. Dad came out and he stood by my chair and looked at the screen. Then he craned his neck and looked at me, like a real look, for a long time for the first time since he put my brains back in place (as the fall spilt them from my crown and on the stairs’ stone and a bit on the front yard). Then he quit the look and turned back at the show, which was still on, and he stayed there like that. The plane clip came back and back on this dumb show. It played the same thing more times than I felt it should have. I got bored. I felt like the show ought to change or end. I did not like too much of the same thing. I had no clue what it was in dad that brought him out to watch this show with me, or at least next to me. I did not dare speak lest I drive him off. I watched him though I tried to make it look like I was not. The more he watched the screen the more I saw him change. I saw his face puff up and get wet. His nose turned red like I had not seen it do in the past. His eyes looked like he had pet the cat too much. I did not know what could be wrong, but that was not new when it came to poor dad. I did not ask if I could try to make him less blue since I knew he would not let me help him. He looked worse and worse and did not move. When the sun went down, and the show changed at last, he slunk back to his room with no words to let me know what caused him to act so queer. I did not like how hard it was to have him for my dad, but it could have been worse I guess. It could have been mom who had got my bad luck to spill the way I did that morn. I did not dare to think such a thing: it is so bad. I wish I’d drop dead just to have let it in my head. I could have died that morn. I did think so all the time and there were days I wish I had. When I wished it too much I had to find mom. If she was not there with me I would go to her for help. She oft has a mind for what I can do to be a good boy. I went to her that time when dad watched the show with me and then went back to his room. I found her right when dad was gone and told her what he’d done. She sat me on her lap and fed me some fruit. I was so glad for her love and such a snack as that which she put in my throat. I did not cry but she did cry. I asked if what I’d said of dad made her cry. She pet me and said no, she was just sad for all her friends who had died at work that day, all of them gone in a flash. I did not know what to say to be a good boy then. I failed to do much at all and grew sad too. I was sad I failed, and sad for mom, but mom was sad for her dead friends. We were both glum then and so I wept with her. She tried to dry my tears and I tried to dry hers. She told me that I will be her good boy for all time. I stuck my wet face in her blouse. I pulled a crease in her dress. My lips went near her lips. I was sad but full of thanks too, thanks that I had no friends for I would sure hate to have them all die at once like mom’s did. She said I was her last friend in the world, but that was all that a mom like her could need. That stopped my tears. I felt like I had won a hard game and was proud of it. I am still proud to this day and my love for mom is the same or it could be that it has grown. I know that though fate was cruel to me once, there are oft great things to feel in this world, and that is why we keep on with the drudge of our damn lives: that which we find hard here and there is made worth it when you have a mom like my mom to love and to be your best friend. If I was dead now I would not be as near to mom. Plus mom would be lone and drear, left back on this earth when I’d gone. I’d hate to leave her like that and not be there to help. It’s such a bad thought it’s hard for me to let it in my head, but it would be the same for me if I lived but mom was gone. In that case I would be left back to weep with no mom to hold me and tell me I’m a good boy. I would be here with just dad, which would make it all the worse. He would not cook meals, and I can’t as I lack the skills since you know what. In fact, I fear that if mom were gone the both of us left back would starve. I could eat what’s left in the fridge for a week or so, if dad did not get to it first, but the food would run out and I would get thin and die. I prayed when I would be at church to make sure this did not come to pass, and to make sure god knows I mean it I told him threats. If mom died and I lived, I would take a plane and fly it down and hit all the homes in the world. If dad died it would all be the same, more or less. I did not wish he’d die, but, as I’ve said, I would as soon that he had got his skull took off so as to save me from all the pain I feel. It should have been him that morn. Oh, I should not have said that! My wish is true but so dark. It is wrong to dream such things and here I want to be a good boy. I ought not have such bad thoughts so oft when it comes to dad but more so mom! What I meant was that it is as well that it was me who slipped on the patch of ice since dad was old and it did not take much to hurt him quite deep. Had it been him who fell he would not have had the luck I had to save most of my head. Once the cat scratched his arm and he bled and bled on the cloth mom put down for a meal. Dad had not come out to sup with us, which he did not do much, but he was there in the room where we were to eat since he had to feed the pill to the cat (mom could not get it down in way back of the cat’s mouth like the vet said it has to go for it to work and I had not the skill for such a task). Dad held the cat and put the pill in her throat and the cat stuck out a hind claw and dug a thin pink line in his arm, the arm that which had a watch on the wrist. There came from that mark a tide of blood that which seemed more than should have been in him at all. The blood spewed from his wound and hit the cloth set out for our sup that night. The white cloth soaked the blood up like a drink. I went to fetch a pad of gauze to mend dad since that is one chore I could do still and not mess up. Dad was sore that the cat scratched him. He spoke, which was rare, and cursed the cat and vowed to make it bleed twice as much as he had just done. I doubt the cat meant real harm since she liked dad and she liked to have her pill. I helped mend his arm with gauze, but he gave me no thanks. He just stormed back to his room in a huff. Mom and me had to fold the soaked cloth, not fit now to have a meal on. I watched her bunch the cloth up and throw it out back with the trash. That was too bad, but it was just one of those things. It was not the cat’s fault, but dad blamed her. I caught him when he took it out on her for days with a push or a kick if she went near the door of his room. Mom and me made a plan not to bring it up to dad so it might leave his mind. I don’t think it worked. Dad sulked for a long time, but would dart out to punch the cat if she came near when he would creep down the hall to use the john late at night. I kept these things from mom to make her fret less that dad might be worse still. I don’t think she had more of a clue than me what made dad act like he did, but she cared more for him than I cared for him and so it made her way more down than me and it was that which I did not like to stand for. I tried to solve her woes for dad but my brain was too bruised and shaped wrong. I lost some skills since you know what and there are some skills I bet I would have grown that I won’t get now. That’s why it makes it so hard to solve what was wrong with dad. I did not get it! I guess it’s just a fact of my tough luck that which makes life hard for me. I used to fear that one day we will all die. I thought that which comes next, when we’re dead, should be clear, so I can think, and soft, since mom likes soft things, and I hoped all the pain would be gone so I would not have to hide all of it in my gut when I’m with mom and so dad would be fixed and would act how he used to. I dreamt it would be that way. I know now things will not be the same as I thought in the end. I did not care too much on what death would be like since I knew at least I must be with mom when we die. I thought I would not mind if it’s not how I’d like it as long as I’m with mom there. I would not stand for it if we were kept twain in death. I won’t be kept from her! I made up my mind that if god kept me from her to fly a plane up and hit god and he would burst out in flames like a house. I warned him when I prayed. I did not tell mom these things so she would not fret. There were days I thought on such things when she was near. We were in the same room once when I did start to think of threats to pray. I tried to make it seem like I did not have much on my mind but she saw me sweat and quake. She asked what was wrong and I did not want to lie to her so I asked to leave the room. I said I felt faint, as I did tend to since the fall. I went off and tried to kill the thoughts that itched my brain. I went and looked out in the yard, that I might see a thing or two to put me at ease. I pressed my face on the glass pane. I pressed hard and dreamt that my face would break through the glass and leave shards in my head to let those thoughts out through the wound holes. The meat in my gut boiled like soup. I could hear dad pace back and forth in his room. I saw a bird in a tree but could not hear it chirp. I thought on how it would be warm soon. It was near the date I had been born on: mom told me she had plans to bake me a cake. She is my best friend. I thought on how I would grow up and mom would give me a gift each year on the day I was born on. I was glad of this and I looked out at the cold lawn and saw the cat stalk by the tall grass at the edge of the yard. I stayed where I was to wait for the sun to slide down in the ground where I could not see it. I heard dad shut the door to his room and stalk down the hall. I got a good way off from the view of the yard. I went back to mom. I told her the whole truth of why I had to leave her side and vowed not to keep things from her. I told her I just did want to have good thoughts when she was near with me. She said it would all be fine in the end, though it was hard for right now. We hugged. I had good thoughts then. I told her that so she would not fret. I stayed pressed as close to her as could be. I felt her touch the lumped flesh of my brow and the deep scars that run down my bald pate. I knew she loved me. Mom stood up, and I nudged off her, and I watched her move to where she kept the knife, by the sink. She picked the knife up and held it like a toy as she looked at it shine in the thread of light from the bulb that which hung near. I smiled and went to the lamp that which sat on the desk at the edge of the room and turned it on. We stood at the ends of the room for a long time, and then mom spoke. Her voice did then sound like the moon when she spoke well of me. She told me I am a good boy and her best friend. She rubbed the knife on her blouse like to wipe a smear off the blade. I think she wept but the tears were too small to see drip down her cheeks from where I was. I wept too, for joy. She asked what bad thoughts had made me sweat and quake. I told her I did not want to say for fear she would think less of me. She asked to give her a clue at least. I looked at her face as she looked at me and then the knife and back at me. I said I had to find a way for me to be with her like this and for us to not grow old and die. Mom smiled and I knew then she meant it when she said it would be fine. She asked if I would like to drive to church right now. She held the knife up in the light. I went from the lamp to where she stood by the sink and leaned on her waist. I wrapped her thighs in a hug. She put her hand on the flat spot of my skull and I felt the cold blade she held rest on my scalp like a kiss. I pressed my face in the folds of her dress, breathed in a gulp of her smell, and felt my lungs go limp. We would take a ride to church, just the two of us, like we liked. It pleased me so much, our plan, as I tried to squeeze my arms more tight to hold her and not let go. My tears made a sink in her dress. I cried at her waist and asked for the thing that which I knew I must hear from her. I asked her to tell me that we would not be wrought twain by death. I did not care if god did not want it to be the truth, I knew it would be made true if mom said it. Her voice would drown out god and save our love. My nerves winced and my pain burst from where I had it hid in my gut and all my bones turned to jam and my tongue to salt. It was from the wait for mom’s voice since it did not come as quick as I’d hoped. I tried to look up, to beg her, but her hand that which grasped the knife was pressed down on me too hard. I feared to break the pause but I could not help it. I could not stop the blurt that which came out of my stung throat that which had the sound of a cough made of salt, but was in fact my way to let mom know that I love her and our love is the gift that which makes it worth such pain as that which pumps my blood through my heart so I might live. And it was all fine: she was right. I had to wait for time to end to hear her voice, but when her mouth went wide she sang. Till then we had not once moved, nor made no sounds, but we watched the rest of what there is run out and we saw all the planes fall from the sky and the homes turn back to dirt. We stood there till life on earth was gone, and death was gone, and that which was left was all ours, at last.


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