She looked at the door grudgingly. It’s reputation was notorious. The hinges of the red monstrosity hadn’t been greased in a million years and when someone dared to open it, the metal would lock in a tight embrace. It would scream and hiss as if it was a baby being held too close. She looked and noticed there was a group of students around her studying quietly. She felt guilty as she tried to ease the door open slowly. The sound forced some of the students to look up abruptly. They scoffed at her and she whispered a soft ‘sorry’. She quickly rushed off, letting the door slam violently behind her.
**I still feel like this needs more editing and whatnot. Advice is welcome :) **
It was advertised all over the television a month ago; scientists had finally found and ‘stabilized’ the answer. They were asking people to cough up millions of dollars to hear it which I thought was ridiculous.
“What do you mean the answer?” I had questioned skeptically. I sat across from my mother’s doctor who was handing me pamphlets of some sort. It didn’t make any sense to me.
“The answer. The answer to everyone’s question. The answer to all of life’s unanswerable questions. The most precious and valuable piece of information anyone could ever obtain.” The doctor was shaking. A mix of excitement and I suppose nerves. My mother was one of the first patients to undergo the treatment and everyone was on edge. I was never sold on the idea, ever.
“How safe is it?”
“It’s 100% safe. There are no negative consequences associated with it. You will be amongst the world’s smartest people. You will be the ultimate privileged person.” The doctor looked at me intensely. I felt too pressured to make this decision all by myself. My mother was in the preparation room awaiting the treatment, and because I was her only son, they were offering the answer to me for free. Part of a family package deal.
“Do you know the answer?” I asked the doctor jokingly. He turned away from me and laughed.
“Please. If I had the money to know the answer, I certainly wouldn’t be in this office anymore. A man can dream,” he looked back at me quickly, “but you have one of the best opportunities life could ever offer to you. Don’t throw it away. Your mother payed a lot of money for this, and we’re offering it to you for free. Take advantage of this son.”
I didn’t trust it. And it was right of me not to trust it.
I remember that day so well. It’s one of the last prominent memories I have actually. I remember sitting by my mother’s bed before they brought her into the treatment room. I remember telling her I had declined the answer and I certainly remember the look on her face when I told her that. For the first time in my entire life I saw her truly and utterly scared. I didn’t understand why. She sold our life to experience this and suddenly she was having second thoughts. She started crying and I remember murmuring to her that everything will be alright. I didn’t even contemplate what would happen after she was enlightened.
There had been a leak of information which was what caused the sudden abandonment of our little middle-of-nowhere town. When they discovered that the answer was incredibly contagious and vicious, life got out of hand. They weren’t aware of how overwhelming it would be and people fell into peculiar and deep states of shock after being exposed to it. Ear plugs were provided to us in case someone in our neighborhood got infected. ‘Preventative measures’ they called it, but truth be told, no scientist or doctor was close to understanding this phenomenon. Life had become chaotic and ironically, we were constantly in the unknown. And to those who were exposed to it, they were usually placed in hospitals and special quarantine wards. An example of that would be my mother.
My mother was one of the first to hear the answer. She sold our estate, our cars, our televisions and all of our worldly possessions to come up with the money just to satisfy her inquisitiveness. Before, we had lived comfortably in a grand mansion by the lake. We had lived off the money generated from my father’s publishing company. Now everything and everyone is gone, and I live alone, young and inexperienced. My life has ever since been an empty, dusty and repetitive motion. I could barely remember how it used to be before she left me with nothing. For the longest time, I hated her for that. She had acted selfishly and didn’t foresee the consequences. She had been in the hospital for 10 years now. Because of how long she’s had to adapt to the answer, my mother was almost completely functional. Scientists and doctors wouldn’t know what to do if she were to become the first living, walking, breathing being to understand the answer. She had the potential to infect anyone at any time.
The street was empty. It had just snowed and little wisps of snow danced off the rooftops as the wind combed through the streets. I walked down and stopped before the empty house I rented. I then stepped through the door and walked up to my empty room that wasn’t really my room, but a pathetic excuse for a sanctuary. Even the looters had finished with this part of town. There was nothing left in this house except hollow memories and unfamiliar smells that lingered in the air. I guess it was the only place I felt safe in now. If I were to go to the supermarket, my brain would buzz with anything that stood out. I remained at home as much as I could. Inside my dark bedroom, I lay down on my bed and stared at the ceiling. I could hear my pulse and I used it to steady my breathing as I fell into a light slumber. My last thought loitered in my mind as I drifted into unconsciousness. I was going to try and visit my mother tomorrow, even if they wouldn’t let me in.
I tried to hate her for the longest time, but after living alone for so long, I missed the quirky characteristics that defined my mother. She wasn’t the best parent, but I had always been able to come to her with anything. I missed her. I missed her kisses on my forehead. I missed being naïve and irresponsible with her.
In the morning, I woke up to the sound of violent sirens filling the empty street. There must have been another outbreak. I got ready and left my house before the sun rose. As I walked down to the hospital, I noticed there was a woman who sat outside, slumped up against the faded white walls of a small home. She was muttering something and her eyes were rolled up inside her head. The poor woman was homeless and couldn’t afford to be taken care of as her body processed the answer. Snow had begun to accumulate on her shoulders. I felt terrible and went in closer to see if I could wipe the foam off her mouth, but she jolted upwards and nearly scared me half to death. Her eyes rolled back into place and were wild as she stared into mine. I quickly remembered to wear my earplugs. I stood up and shoved them into my ears. As I looked back at the woman, she sat there, mesmerized and chanting something I couldn’t make out. I walked away quickly, not daring to look over my shoulder because I knew she was staring me down.
When I got to the hospital, the nurse in the lobby was surprised to see me. She tried to block me from the elevator, but I pushed my way through anyways.
“You can’t go up there. It isn’t completely safe!” she said hysterically.
I continued walking.
She ran after me. I could hear her heels clicking frantically on the floor. That sound drove me crazy. Click click click click click. “Sir, I’m telling you, your mother is our most unstable patient. If you go up there, I can guarantee you—”
“Just let him through. I’ll escort him,” the woman was quickly interrupted by my mother’s doctor. The doctor looked grim but smiled briefly at me. “I was wondering when I would see you again.”
It would be cruel of me to play the ‘I told you so’ card. He knew just as well as I did that the day I declined the answer had to be the best decision of my life. We didn’t speak of it, but we both knew what we were thinking.
The two of us took the elevator up to the 45th floor. My mother was in the 3rd degree quarantine station, which was practically empty except for a couple of patients who had been enlightened around the same time as my mother. She didn’t share the room with anyone. Doctors couldn’t afford to let her wake up, so they continuously sedated her.
“Okay, here are the rules: You do not look at her. You have to wear these earplugs anyways. She will yell. When she does, you need to focus on something unrelated to the answer. Finally, if I tell you to leave, you leave…” The doctor trailed off and seemed nervous. His foot tapped continuously. “Although I guess this isn’t really important to you.” He looked down at his feet and shook his head.
I followed his eyes and smiled slightly to myself. “I’ve been alone for too long. I can’t live like this anymore, I just want to be with my mother again.” I cringed as I felt an uncontrollable sadness well up inside me. It took this long for me to realize how much she meant to me.
The doctor was about to say something, but decided against it. He patted my shoulder reassuringly. He then left my side and walked back to the elevator.
“She’s in the last room on your left,” the doctor called from over his shoulder. “She will be wearing off her sedation in a couple of minutes. I’ll remind the nurse to delay the next one until we can quarantine you in another room. Good luck son…”
I ran down the barren corridor to my mother’s soundproof room. I could hear the ringing the elevator made each time the doctor descended another floor. I made sure that the doctor reached the 1st floor before I went into the room. I put my earplugs back in and looked through the window. Then I saw my mother for the first time in years. My mother’s eyes were closed. Her hands and feet bound to the bed and her mouth was gagged. I pushed the door open and stepped inside. She stirred a little, her hands feeling at the side of her bed energetically; the sound of her handcuffs clanking loudly was unsettling.
I remember what the doctor once told me. I would have around 5 minutes before the first epiphany would set in. After that, more came within 30 seconds of each other. Finally, I would be bombarded continuously with the truth. I would collapse and fall into extreme shock. If I was lucky, I would recover quickly like my mother. It would take a couple dozen of years, but it was worth spending those years with her instead of alone in that empty house.
“Mom?” my voice quivered. I hated how weak I had become in the last couple of minutes.
She shook violently. Her eyes shot open. Her stare was so intense, I flinched for a second. I felt my head tingle a little bit. I stepped over to her and removed the gag from her mouth. I saw her mouth start to move. She was muttering something incomprehensible. My heart was beating violently. My ear plugs were beginning to wear out. Before I removed them, I readied myself.
“Okay mom, this is it. Tell me what the answer is.”
I took out my ear plugs and heard nothing at first. Then, out of nowhere, I heard a familiar word. My brain processed that word, but before it came to a conclusion, another word popped into my head. I could see quick burst of light all of a sudden. I felt my spirit lift out of my body and I then awkwardly watched myself begin to crumble. I breathed shallowly as I felt cool air enter and swallow my mind. The coolness soon wore off and then I felt a sharp, white heat that stung and tore apart my brain. I didn’t understand anything. I was so overwhelmed with information, I began to loose my sight. My knees buckled. Another word. I stopped breathing. Another word. With each word, jagged daggers pierced through my body. I felt my nerves rip apart and expose themselves to emptiness. I felt my skull crack open and the thick, sticky blood pool out of my head onto the tile. I gagged and coughed and fell to the ground. I was witnessing my own demise as I lay, trapped inside my body in agonizing pain. I was with her finally.
I didn’t even know the answer.
This year started off on such a good note for me. I spent it with friends and my boyfriend and just what a lovely thing to do for the new year. I had so much fun and met so many people and got to know so many people that I feel so fortunate to be surrounded by this.
You beat me to it Tricia, I wanted to write a post about how much I enjoyed that night and about how much I loved your company. You and Francois are such interesting and awesome people; I couldn’t have thought of a better way to spend the new year. This doesn’t give it justice because after only one night, like you said, we have too many inside jokes and shared so many laughs that a mediocre tumblr post seems unfair. I only hope that we spend more equally awesome nights in the near future together because I honestly cherish friendships like this.
On that note, I’ve put 2011 in the back of my mind and I’m honestly ready to beat the new year. All I gotta do is push past this last semester and finally start my life.
A couple nights ago, I got together with friends from high school and it only dawned on me now how much has changed in the past few years. Our lives have changed so dramatically that it’s overwhelming. It was subtle at first, but as I realize that some of my closest friends are moving away next year for university, I ache just thinking of what I would do without them. And then my mind swims with unanswerable questions concerning my university choice and just…wow. If you think of it, I will be studying at a university within this year. That is a really scary thought.
2011 was interesting. I met a lot of new people and I accomplished a lot of new things. Going to John Abbott was quite the adventure and I must say that I did have some very good times. However, the end of 2011 finished on a very odd note and to be perfectly honest, I can’t wait until this last semester is over. I can’t wait to move on with my life because I still feel like I’m in high school. University is such an appealing idea that I ache every second I waste in CEGEP.
I’ve seen this trend on tumblr and I figured I should do it as well. To recap 2011 would take forever, so I’ll just write about the major points I can think of.
-I met a lot of new people. That’s an important one. I made a lot of new friends, especially in Bander, and I started going out with Tim who has been quite the positive aspect to my life. I could write and write about him, but that would be boring for you to read. At the end of the day, he’s very dear to me and one of the people I respect and admire the most. Tim, just thank you for being awesome. Because of you, I have a very significant note-worthy chapter in my life, and a very awkwardly stuffed journal that wont close properly now…
-I made a legit internet friend. I never understood how you can create friendships over the interwebs, but now I can say for sure that it can work. Ethan, you have been such an awesome and an incredibly inspirational and helpful person that I feel ridiculously fortunate to have you as a friend. Your writing has never failed to interest me and our conversations are always refreshing and stress-relieving. (On a side note, if you’re looking for some well written poetry, may I suggest following him on tumblr? http://foreveronward.tumblr.com )
-I enjoyed my studies. That’s a big thing. It’s refreshing to be in an atmosphere in which I enjoy studying and learning and exploring what I’m interested in. As much as I loath how much it still seems like high school, I appreciate CEGEP because it’s an essential stepping stone into the future (as cheesy as that sounds).
-I got a tattoo! Yeah never though I would do it, it still seems surreal to me that I have one. I got into the habit of doing things out of the norm for me and I’ve been enjoying that aspect to my life a lot actually. Trying new things is one of the best things I did for myself in 2011 and I’m going to continue that philosophy in 2012.
-I got a very very part time job as a ballet teacher for 3-4 year olds. One of the best things that happened to me as well. I absolutely adore kids and it’s the best feeling to see my little group excited and happy to see me every Monday. They all have special places in my heart.
-I’ve noticed a particular growth in most of my relationships. Maturity is a very complex and frightening idea. We’re all being forced to adapt to new things quickly and because of that, most of all my relationships have changed in consequence. Most for the better, some for the worse, but regardless, I’ve spent a lot of time reminiscing. It’s a mind boggling idea to me, the fact that I have witnessed so much of someones life. And this is mostly of what has spawned this tumblr post. I’m genuinely scared of whats to come in the future, what I’ll be able to witness, what I’ll be able to reminisce about later. I’m scared thinking about how these great relationships I have with people will soon diminish because of time and traveling distance. I’ve already talked to dozens of people about this and it’s probably note worthy that I’m taking all of this too seriously, but I can’t help it. I worry. I only hope that the moments we share after our separation will be just as wholesome and just as hilarious that things will feel back to normal, even if it’s just for a second.
If you’ve read all of this, kudos, I’m rather impressed. Reading back on this, none of this really makes sense, and unfortunately I’m a little too lazy to edit it so that it’s coherent. I rarely do this, but when I get started, it’s hard to shut me up. I hope all of your 2012s are awesome, and thank you for reading!
I remember when we both came here during the summer. The beach was usually deserted and we walked together, calmly, peacefully, undoubtedly in love with each other. I remember when he bent down on one knee on the soft sand and pulled out a diamond ring. I remember the fear in his eyes, the doubting, exciting fear that made my heart skip a beat. I remember me saying yes and both of us erupting in laughter. The sand at the villa was soft and silky then. I remember digging my feet through it and feeling the tiny little granules as they escaped my toes.
Now the sand was rocky, filled with sticks, thorns and broken shells. My feet hurt but I kept walking anyways. The sun was hidden behind a dark cloud. I looked straight at it and felt the dull sting of it in my eyes. I looked at the spot where he had proposed to me; the spot had now become an unclear memory, subtly and bitterly reminding me of the happiness we had shared. I felt nauseous. I was distanced from the shore but I could still feel the wind of the waves as they lapped violently. Some even traveled close enough to me, barely making the tips of my toes wet. It looked like it was going to rain.
I remember when we had dined together that one night at the villa. We ate outside and all the stars in the sky were bright like diamonds. I remember when he had laughed at him when he spilled red wine on his shirt. I remember when he had taken it off later that night in our bedroom, throwing it casually on the bedside chair. I remember how toned he had been during the week we spent at the beach. I remember feeling his warm, smooth skin beneath my slight hands. I remembered the kisses he gave me on my neck. I remember being happy.
I think I’ve actually forgotten how to be happy. Standing on the shore, I noticed that the familiar ringing in my ears returned. I dread that ringing for it keeps my mind awake and buzzing with thoughts. I stood on the beach once again caught in a stare. I wasn’t even sure what I was looking at. I could feel my mind trying to swallow this massive memory, as if it was protecting me from myself. The memory felt cloudy and lingered slightly as I looked back at the villa we were staying in. I decided to walk back home to see if my husband had awakened. I reached the front door and quietly unlocked it.
Our villa was a mess. We were never good at keeping anything clean or tidy. It bothered me that the dishes we used from last night were still in the sink, crusted and stained with meat sauce and chopped up vegetables. I walked upstairs and looked over into our room and noticed that he was still sleeping in our bed. I didn’t want to disturb him, but it was already 1 in the afternoon. I walked to the bathroom and left the door ajar. I started the water for my bath and thought that I heard him murmur softly from the other room.
“How was the beach?” he seemed to have whispered.
“Fine” I said uninterested. As I sat on the side of the tub, I looked at the counter and spotted his cologne. I hated that cologne. It was in a rich red glass bottle, and the liquid was thick and sultry. The aroma was so heavy with cinnamon and cherry that it was almost as emetic as a cheap red wine. I could smell it on him from the other room.
I remember choking on the stench as I recognized it on our neighbor. She was staying in the villa next to ours. Her bleach white teeth and hair made me sad. She laughed airily and I felt dumb listening to her. She must have been in her mid twenties. Everything was still young and fresh for her. I looked at her disgustingly, my eyes framed with crows-feet. She was out of breath when I went over to drop off the drainer I had borrowed. Her lips were smeared with maroon. I found the same shade later that day on my husbands collar.
I wish he had gotten up. He stayed in bed the entire day, reading this book he had bought before we had come here.
“I’m going into town,” I said quickly. I hated leaving him alone, but he was so lazy I didn’t bother arguing with him. He nodded without looking up. I smelt his awful cologne again. I could see the smell on him, covering the entirety of his chest, seeping into the white sheets of our bed. He didn’t move at all. I walked off and slammed the door behind me.
After coming home from work, I stood by the window looking into our first house, seeing the woman my husband had let in. She was a well-to-do woman, and as he caressed her, she laughed dramatically and almost professionally. She seemed too classy for him. It was then that I realized my husband was cheating on me. Instead of bursting into our house, I stood silently, motionless, numb, by the window, my mind and heart aching.
In town, I noticed our neighbor walking in the distance. It was so hot and muggy that her figure looked dazed, like a mirage. She often came over to our villa and whenever she did, her eyes were always glued on my husband like a cougar awaiting her prey. Today, her hair was braided. She was wearing a low, revealing top and her skin was brown and leathery. She passed me slowly and smiled with her bleach teeth. I lowered my eyes, but she stopped to talk to me anyways.
“Would you guys like to have dinner with me tonight?” she said. Her eyes were bright and wandering. She was carrying a shopping bag with some french bread sticking out of the side. I didn’t say anything. I just smiled at her. She smiled back and walked away. I waited on spot and watched her disappear into the distance, until I couldn’t see her anymore. Once she was out of view, I rushed off quickly. I finished my shopping within 20 minutes and figured I should go back to the villa. I walked out to the parking lot, got into my car, and backed out into the busy street. As I drove, an ambulance rushed by me, vibrant with red and white flashing lights. The siren was mesmerizing. I felt dazed as I followed it. It was driving faster than I was, but I managed to keep up. I could hear another siren behind me. I looked in my rearview mirror and saw a police car. I pulled off to the side, and awaited it to pass by me. It was following the ambulance.
I remember coming home one night to the villa, and hearing them in the bedroom. I didn’t run upstairs to find them. I stood below our room and listened. I listened to their heavy breathing, their exasperated cries, their sexual laughter. I walked out the door and sat on our front porch. I had come home early in case this was happening, but for some reason, I was tickled by the idea of how stupid he thought I was. He knew I knew about the affair, and he knew I wouldn’t do anything about it. And it’s true. I didn’t do anything about it.
The villa was surrounded by people when I got there. Other tenants had gathered and whispered loudly. As I approached the house, a lot of them looked up and said nothing. They stared at me. The ambulance and police car were parked close, doors opened and lights still flashing. There was a man being held against the police car by an officer. He was handcuffed and crying. Our front door was broken and a trail of money and assorted objects were scattered in front of our lawn. It looked like a robbery. I wandered up to the walkway and was stopped suddenly by a police officer.
“Sorry ma’am you can’t go any closer.”
“What’s wrong? This is my villa! What’s happened?” I felt a drop of water hit the side cheek. I looked up and saw that a enormous dark cloud had enveloped the sky. I could hear thunder in the distance.
The police officer looked at me strangely. I was a mess. Before I left, I put on clothing that had been stained from the earlier night. I had spilled meat sauce, from the pasta we had, all over my blouse and hadn’t had the time to treat it before I left. I rushed past him and heard him run after me. I made it to the front door before he grabbed my arm. I glanced quickly inside and saw the mess that was in our living room. It was even messier than before I had left it. Furniture was toppled over, clothes were thrown everywhere, some ripped and shredded. I ran upstairs to the bedroom where I spotted my husband in the same place I had left him earlier. He was still reading his book. I smelt his cologne again. It was mixed with a peculiar smell this time, a delicious perfume similar to an overly ripe fruit. It was rotten but addictive. My eyes wandered down and saw that the bed sheets were soaked in red wine. I called out his name, but he didn’t even move.
The police officer had followed me upstairs and waited behind me, his hands firmly grasping my arm. “What’s happened?” I asked again, this time more anxiously. I struggled in his grasp. The police officer spoke into the walkie-talkie he had on the side of his uniform. I broke away from him and ran to my husband.
It wasn’t red wine. It was sweaty, dark blood. It dripped from the sheets onto the ground. I felt the color drain out of my face. I looked at his once toned chest and saw a ripped, gushing wound. His back was stabbed deep with a kitchen knife. The same knife I used last night to prepare dinner. I felt like I was going to vomit and clenched my stomach with quivering arms.
I backed away slowly and tripped on a curtain that had been thrown on the floor. My ears were ringing again. I fell down awkwardly, my hands shaking by my side. I tried to get up, but as I looked around for something to balance myself with, I noticed our wardrobe had been toppled over. It was a large, mahogany dresser that wasn’t fully leveled on the ground. As I looked closer, I noticed there was a stream of blood coming from underneath it. I noticed strands of bleach blond hair underneath the dresser, curled and twisted into mangled braids. They looked almost like the same brunette shade as mine as they gradually became more and more stained with blood. A pair of tanned hands were popping out of the side of the wardrobe, bruised and standing upright, like a baguette popping out of a grocery bag.
I stood up slowly and sprinted out of the villa. The police officer tried to stop me, but I ran past him before he could catch me. I sprinted numbly down to the beach, past the man who robbed and murdered my husband, down to the place where my husband had proposed to me. I stopped and watched the waves lap up against me. I walked deeper into the water. It had begun to pour and I stood there in the rain and violent rushes of water, not even sure if I was crying. The meat sauce began to clear out of my blouse and a pink cloudy circle formed around me in the water. As I stood there, my mind once again churning and swallowing the misery of my own memories, I felt the throbbing ache I had in my chest and collapsed to my knees. I welcomed the salty water warmly, allowing it to fill every crevice of my body until I was frozen and relaxed.
I remember one day, I had just come back from the store and I brought home these gorgeous new kitchen knives. As I placed them on the kitchen counter, I heard him with her upstairs as the bed creaked louder and louder. I was paralyzed with shock and felt the shame of my own stupidity. Unable to think of anything else other than these knives, I unpacked them, wrote a small note beside the stand and left our villa without a sound.
“Spaghetti and meat sauce tonight? I’ll bring the wine.”