Here’s my latest flash story I’ve been working on. Hope you enjoy, please comment and tell me what you think.
By Jason Warden
For years his mother’s nonsense words rang in his ears every day. They were leftover from dreams he sometimes remembered, and sometimes didn’t. On most days, whether he remembered the dream or not, his mind would be consumed with thoughts of her words. He had days when she would only haunt him a few hours before easily slipping away, but other days she clung and those words followed him into sleep.
He tried to remind himself that she was dead by now, that it wasn’t’ his fault, the guilt wasn’t his to harbor, but knowing and feeling proved to be two very different things. Not even the memory of standing at the edge of a black void, ready to jump, unwilling to live without her, didn’t change the weight that constantly crushed his heart. To him those few moments had been the closest and furthest away from his mother he had ever been. He tried to jump, but fear held his traitorous feet still. Even when she was completely lost from sight, he still intended to jump. Right up until those arms wrapped around him and he was dragged away, everything in his being told him to jump.
He fought the strong arms that held him until he realized it was his father’s voice in his ear, and unbelievably it sounded kind, forgiving, and almost sorry.
“I’ll send for her when I can. We’re doing this for you.”
Tomas cried silently for hours after. The black swallowed them as they moved onward, further and further away from his mother. Only the stars told of direction or destination. Throughout the voyage his father assured him over and over that they would all be together again soon. That home wasn’t safe for them anymore, that things would be better. The trip lasted days, centuries, eons, and when the ship landed, he felt empty, broken and alone. He watched as his father paid the white-faced captain, turned and picked him up. Tomas laid his head on his father’s shoulder, looked out over the void into the blackness beyond, and wondered if she was still out there somewhere.
For years, his father repeated the same line whenever asked.
“I can’t yet. Your mother is ok. I’ll send for her soon.”
Until finally, unable to stand the sound of the lie coming from his father’s mouth, Tomas stopped asking. Then, when the memory of his mother’s face was nothing but a blurred image in his head, Tomas’ father told him he was getting married, and he knew his mother was dead.
Alyssa had tried. Even Tomas, as much as he hated her, acknowledged that, but he didn’t want or need a new mother. What he wanted was silence from voice inside, and from the words that haunted him daily. He wanted her, not just her words or her voice. Instead of leaving, the voice grew steadily stronger, more incessant, until he had no choice really, no choice at all.
It began and ended with words. They were an alien language he no longer knew, but somehow understood. They were little things, things most parents tell their children, but instead of inspiring Tomas, they became something more, something alive.
Tomas never made friends; he couldn’t bear the thought of having feelings for anyone. He was always afraid they would find out about the voice, or worse, that they’d hear it too. Once, his father asked him why he didn’t try harder, why he didn’t at least talk to the other kids.
“Life is passing by, enjoy it, give them chance.”
Tomas only shrugged, and climb the stairs to his room. For years, he struggled to understand the meaning of her words, and their meaning for him. He prayed for signs, for relief, but each day, only his mother’s words answered his calls. By the time he realized what his mother was trying to tell him, all that remained of her were words. Her face, touch, and smell were long gone. She was still in his dreams, but all he could see was her dark hair. Even her voice had begun to fade, and when he heard the words, he heard them in his own voice.
Tomas didn’t understand where the realization came from, whether it was the smell of the bougainvillea as he walked to campus, or the way the teacher’s aid looked down when she was spoken to, but something buried deep inside awoke, and Tomas stood from his seat and left despite the protests of his professor. He walked out of his first and last college class. Ran down the front steps and past the lot where he had parked only a few minutes before.
Finally, he slowed his pace and as he walked his backpack slid further and further from his shoulder, until finally it fell to the ground spilling out new pens, highlighters and finely sharpened pencils. He left them and continued walking, afraid if he even moved his eyes away from the path in front of him, he would lose the one thing he had tried so hard to find.
All his life had boiled down to one tiny little word, a mere piece of what she had told him all those years ago as the ship idled, ready to pull him away from her. Now, he would make her proud, he thought if nothing else, he owed her that.
With every step, he said the word silently until his lips began to move. Tomas didn’t notice when his voice joined in and for the last hundred yards, screamed with each step.
Standing in the kitchen, looking down at the bodies, he finally felt the voice go, and for the first time he knew silence. Tomas held his hand over his mouth, stifling his cries and knelt to his father and his mother’s replacement.
“Puedes ser todo lo que tú quieres ser. Mom said I could be anything I want… Now I am.”