Whispering, the wind rustled the branches of solemn, towering trees and hauled leaves through the brisk, winter air. The cloudy, moonless night seemed to create a bitter atmosphere in the park amongst the tumultuous wind. The stubborn moon refused to show itself and its sulphurous glow, too self-absorbed to share its glimmering beam with others. Laying against the trunk of a willow tree, he sat, breathing heavily, hiding within it. He wore a perturbed expression and had his head buried low within his woolly cowl, twiddling with a plastic, film coated packet, grunting every now and then. With his eyes fixed on the prize that he toyed with, the sound that emerged from his endless fidgeting seemed to have made him even more agitated as he pulled hard at the packet; he was unable to achieve his final goal – the last pill.
The stubborn moon refused to show itself and its sulphurous glow, too self-absorbed to share its glimmering beam with others.
“Come on!” he muffled with a distressed tone, hoping that the last pill would drop into his desperate hands. It didn’t. After countless attempts at pricking the packet open, he gave up, abandoning his task, and throwing the grey packet away from him in distress; even with an infirm throw he clenched his shoulder tightly, gasping in pain, thudding his head back against the wooden trunk. He gave a heavy sigh, before streams of tears tumbled down his cheeks that seemed to be of a pallid complexion, arriving at his chin, and then plunging down into his pale hands – they were shaking tremendously. He didn’t prevent the tears from plummeting; he was too exhausted to even move. A formation of blues were painted on the ends of his fingertips. The flood of blue colours seemed to spread down the length of his fingers, slowly engulfing him. Half closed, his eyelids flickered, like an isolated light bulb on its death bed in a dark room, and laying back, the man shut his eyes; the man seemed to have drifted to the locked safe in his brain, where most of his happy memories were stored. The memories that he didn’t think of much. They had been locked away and replaced by negative, haunting memories that sailed across every nerve within his brain, constantly envisioned by him.
Several hours earlier, he was sat, in the same position, under the same tree, with the same lost expression. Through the gap in the entrance, a young boy seemed to have caught his attention. He was coated in many warm, tight layers; he reminded the man of his brother, Jacob, who also used to be wrapped in hundreds of tight layers by his mother, who feared he would catch a cold. The man spotted the boy was on his tiptoes, grasping a long chestnut branch at an imposing tree. Squinting, he wondered what the young, care-free youth was doing; he was hauling at a mother chaffinch’s nest, prodding it to almost fall. The mother chaffinch’s blackish eyes observed the young, ignorant boy, peering down at her three eggs and then leaping forward, guarding her children from the discourteous child. Constantly repeating this action, he began tugging harder at the nest, oblivious to the harm he could cause. The mother bird echoed a strident squawk, startling the young boy as he jumped back, astonished by what he had just encountered. The turbulent wind seemed to aggress, plunging the young boy to the stony path for causing harm to the mother bird. Wailing, he scampered off, bawling for his mother down the extensive path. Shutting his eyes once more, the man seemed to have been reminded of his own care-free youth. He was sent back to his serene childhood and happier days, where the only thing that preoccupied his mind, was the amount of presents he would receive for Christmas, oblivious to the world around him. He knew now that there was much more to life than presents; a whole world surrounded him. But now, to him, most of it was dark.
“Don’t go anywhere. We’ll be right back after the break.”
The television was the only sound that had emerged from the house in hours. The sound would have been drowned out by the smallest of mutters, or by the exchange of words between family members, trivial words – the day’s events, the evening’s dinner, tomorrow’s plans. But nothing. The house stood still. It had for days. For weeks. The air inside the house wasn’t warm or cosy – it was glacial. There were no jokes being made. There were no conversations about how the father’s day had been at the office and what witty pranks he had pulled on his colleague. The smell of freshly steamed vegetables and steak pot pie weren’t evident. There were no candles shimmering their bright beams from the centre of the dining table. The family – cramped around the dining table – sat, eating their dinner, in the dark. In silence. The only sounds that emerged were that of spoons meeting their plates and the slurps of the father whenever he took a spoonful of soup. They weren’t eating fresh home cooked soup. Instead, they ate only the contents of tin cans and jars, easily prepared and no hassle for the mother, whose mind was elsewhere.
“And we’re back. Now in just a moment we’ll be speaking to Dr Carl about depression and what you can do to keep your mind healthy. But now, competition time!”
Silence erupted from the dining room. Nobody moved. The world to all three of them stood still. Nobody moved. Instantaneously, the mother dropped her spoon into her plate, causing an abrupt interference to the silence they had all endured several seconds ago. She screeched her chair backwards, exiting the room in a hurried motion. Jacob turned to his father, but he responded with a lost and vacant expression; not even he could help. The television was quickly muted, and all was silent again. Heavy sobs were heard from the lounge; the mother didn’t care who heard her – she was grieving.
“Mum? Mum, what’s wrong?”
“Jac –.” Her throat clenched and her tongue cleaved to the roof of her mouth; it was almost unattainable to speak.
“Jacob please. I’m –.” She halted. The heavy sound of her breathing swallowed the air in the room, leaving little for the company she had acquired. After a long hesitation, the rays from a ceramic table lamp flooded the room like a crime scene, making a young man, standing up beside her, visible – her eldest son, whom she hadn’t seen in weeks. Eyes swelled with tears and jaw half dropped, she stared up at him.
“No! No! No! No!”
“Mum. It’s alright.”
“No! No! No! No!” Muttering to herself, she was quivering, her hands shaking eccentrically.
“Mum please. What’s wrong?”
“You! You’re not real!” Hyperventilating, she grasped her head tightly, looking away from the shape of the young man that stood beside her.
“Mum. I’m right here.”
“You’re dead,” she murmured quietly, head still turned away.
“You’re dead!” she screamed, standing up, facing her dead son, cheeks burnt red raw and stained with emotion.
“I buried you last month! You! Are! Dead!”