Kaptain's Blog

The writings and musings of The Kaptain

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Through The Godless Hours (53)

The old woman wheeled herself across the kitchen to the gas stove, where she fished a fire lighter from an adjacent drawer. Demonstrating uncommon agility for someone of her restricted movement, she then swivelled her chair in order to reach across to the cooker’s panel of knobs, while simultaneously depressing the lighter’s trigger with the thumb of her other, wrinkled hand. The hiss of the gas was quelled by a quiet boom as the flame lit it, radiating heat at the very moment of ignition, and leaving only the faintest trace of the malodorous elpigi vapour. He’ll be here soon, she asserted, inwardly, allowing herself a smile at the thought. Such a nice boy. A credit to his mother. But despite her aplomb there was a flicker of concern etched into the septuagenarian’s expression as she then manoeuvred her wheelchair towards the sink, to half fill a saucepan with water. The boy’s daily visit had become so important to her that the minutes leading up to it were now always filled with anxiety, lest one day he should fail to appear.

Not that he fully appreciated it, Anath’s well-intended daily ritual was in fact becoming vital in preserving the old woman’s interest in waking each morning: indeed it energised her will to continue living through what was otherwise a painfully solitary existence. For her daughters had long since been married off, while her only son had simply disappeared one day, never to be seen again. The framed picture of the boy that she now deliberately ignored while reaching for the tea was little consolation for his extended absence. Why has he never returned? Not even sent word he was all right? And does he think so little of me that he couldn’t be bothered to find out how I am? But there was another possibility the old woman had been refusing to confront, and at its thought a shiver was sent suddenly down the bend of her crooked spine. For she knew that her absent son had always trodden a path close to the divide between right and wrong, something that often made her wonder whether he had finally been caught taking one risk too many.

Prizing the lid from the floral patterned tea-tin, she sighed involuntarily while spooning the leaves into two tall glasses, before shutting the utensil back inside. Now staring into nowhere, a look of sorrow writ large across her face, the old woman then absently replaced it on to the counter’s surface. Not daring to look at the clock that sat next to her son’s portrait, she impetuously pulled open a cupboard to reveal an extensive array of packets, which contained all the various cakes and biscuits that she knew the boy loved. Surely he won’t want to miss his Sunday treat? she thought, while spilling some chocolate biscuits on to a plate. Too close for comfort, she now flipped the nearby clock around, so that its face was obscured. She did not want to risk even a casual glance at it, in case it showed that the considerate young man on whom she relied for company each day was late. But her body clock told her that this was indeed already the case, serving only to further fuel her unease.

Where is he? she mulled, irritably. Fidgeting in her wheelchair she began to ponder a future in which this surrogate son, like her real one, was absent. What if he never comes again? Upon reflection, the thought terrified her: it was a space she did not wish to occupy. I’ll just give up, she now decided. Go to bed one day, and die. And it’ll all be his fault, she further avowed, somewhat childishly. But her attempts to distract herself from the naked fear that was beginning to creep up on her quickly foundered, and she slumped back into her chair once more as the hollow feeling returned, a melancholy descending over her like a shroud. Noticing that the water had begun bubbling on the stove, she then shook herself momentarily from the gloom, while determining to make the tea, as if by doing so she would be able to summon up his appearance. Please, ’nak… Please come and visit your old friend… She’s very lonely without you…

posted by Kirk at 7:32 pm  

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