“On Mortality”

Story written by Franklin Rayeski – Please do not use without crediting me

          I was walking through the house with a laundry basket at my hip and I was delivering clothes to each room. It was in the middle of the evening and the sky outside was a dark gray with the wind whistling against our windows. I opened up my youngest child’s room and put the hamper down on his bed. He was sitting with his knees tucked into his chest underneath the window sill in his room; his green eyes gazed up at the morbid skies above him. I neatly placed his clothes on his bed and smiled to him even though he paid no attention to me. After picking up the hamper again, I headed for the door.
          “Mom…” he called to me softly. I barely heard him but I still turned my head around and faced him.
          “What is it, honey?” He didn’t look me straight in the eyes; his eyes were glued to the floorboards.
          “I don’t want to die.” He said and, after saying it, he looked up at me for a response. I was caught off guard and dumbfounded but worried at the same time. I placed down the basket, made my way to him and sat down in front of him.
          “What happened, sweetie? Where did that come from?” I warily asked. I gently ran my fingers through his soft blond hair. He stopped looking at me and stared at the floorboards again.
          “I just don’t want to,” he said, “It’s just scary to think about.” I got closer to him, picked him up and sat him in my lap. I rubbed his hair and kissed the top of his head.
          “Baby, that won’t happen for a long, long, long time.” I comforted him.
          “It could.” He quickly answered back.
          “Don’t think like that, it won’t happen anytime soon. I promise.” I stopped petting his hair and placed my hand on my forehead. Maybe it’s normal for little boys to be afraid of something like that, I thought to myself, but it feels like there’s something more that he’s not telling me. I took a deep breath. “Why are you scared of it happening, baby? Did something happen?” He gave a little sigh.
          “I don’t wanna stop being me,” his voice started to shake, “If you’re dead, your brain shuts off and you forget everything and I don’t wanna forget you or sissy or Dad or my friends.” I was caught off guard again. I shook my head in disbelief of what my little boy was talking about.
          “Who told you this?” I asked immediately; it was the first thing that popped into my head. Surely someone told him something, I thought, a little kid like him wouldn’t be able to just come up with something so dark.
          “I don’t know.” He shrugged his shoulders in shame.
          “Was it your sister?” I said with a harsh voice, “Did she fill your head with that nonsense of hers?” He started to whimper a little bit.
          “I heard her talking about it in her room,” he admitted, “she’s scared, too.” I rolled my eyes. My boy’s back was facing me but his body reacted as if he could feel my irritation. I gave out a long, annoyed sigh.
          “Neither of you have anything to be afraid of.” I said with a bit of tough love, “You know: your sister has been on my last nerve lately. She comes home and goes into her room and thinks she can get away with talking badly about the Lord? She talks to her friends and people online about this, that and the other and I’m sick of it! Our Lord has done so much for all of us and all He asks in return is faith. Without faith, what are we?” I took a deep breath after I stopped rambling. My son wasn’t sitting on my lap anymore; he was laying his head on the floor and crying.
          I picked him up and faced him towards me. I shouldn’t have been so rough. I wiped away his tears and hugged him tightly. His little hands grabbed onto the back of my shirt and he continued to cry into my chest. I put my chin over his little head and rocked him slowly.
          “I’m sorry, baby,” I whispered, “I just don’t want you guys being afraid. When you lose faith, you start getting afraid of everything; I don’t want my babies afraid of anything. The Lord is watching both of you; he cares about all of us so much.” I gently pushed him away from me and lifted his chin to face me. “When it’s time to go, you’ll go to Heaven and all of us will be up there too. I’ll go first and then I’ll wait for you, and, up there, I’ll hug you and hold you close forever.” I kissed his forehead. “There’s nothing to be afraid of, baby.”
          His little lips formed a faint smile for a moment. He hugged me again and then got up and walked out the door. I got up myself a few moments later, grabbed the laundry basket and then left the room. I walked down the hallway and headed straight for my daughter’s room. As I walked and looked over the railing next to me, I noticed my son sitting on the steps with sad eyes. I’ve already told him everything I could, I thought, he’ll get over it eventually. I opened his sister’s door and set the laundry basket on her bed then neatly placed down all of her clean clothes. She was sitting in her computer chair with her back towards me. I picked up the basket and started to head out the door.
          “I don’t want to die.” She said softly. I turned my head and she was turned towards me, looking at me dead in the eyes. Her eyes were swollen and tears were streaming down her face. I closed my eyes and put down the basket inside the room. I closed the door, turned to her and then took a deep breath before telling her to grow up.

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