The International Writers Magazine: Dreamscapes Fiction
The Other Son
Jude C Perera
‘I am going Mother, Good Night’
She barely heard him; picking up whispers was a luxury at her age. She looked swiftly but he beat her to it. Those blue sparklers were tucked well away from her adoring gaze. He had gorgeous blue eyes and she had only seen them once, when his face appeared at her gate shamelessly begging for money to bury his father.
It all came back, the tropical storm and the blue that shone through the overcast grey. His mangled hair and the rude stubble did little to blot out those finely sculpted cheeks; the tender eyelashes and that elegantly moulded chin. Her son had returned for a single torturous moment; she agonized. He had won her then and there, an assortment of drenched bones defined by a muddied sarong and a bleached white shirt that had once been red. She could read the hunger in his entire frame, yet he was begging for alms to bury his father. She did not doubt his story, not for a second, she had sensed the truth. He had walked into her life not long after her son, her only child; had walked out of his, blasted by a claymore mine while on active duty. She had dreamt of his death on four consecutive nights, even worse she could recall them in vivid detail long after the night was over. It was too consistent to be fantasy; too lucid to be fiction, she had sensed it then. She had wept, mourned, and enquired; and they had remained stubbornly tight lipped. Vincent thought she was going nuts and gave up on her. But she was ready when the doorbell finally rang and she saw the two officers looking stupid, helpless, and fumbling with their caps and words. She had calmly invited them in and coolly poured them her finest Highland brewn tea. She had consoled them, while they struggled to check their tears. His body was a charred log with a nametag that she could never recognize. She hated the war and cursed those who had sent him and those who had killed him, then immediately regretted it; as such hatred would have surely accrued bad karma against her beautiful boy. Vincent couldn’t take it and had hit his depression with the bottle, he never recovered and thankfully went to his grave soon after.
So she buried his father and rearranged her emotional space to give him some room. So he walked in with a shy smile and tonnes of reverence, which splashed over his conscience and spilt over to his countenance. Perhaps humility forbade eye contact; she reasoned and lamented. Vincent had railed and ranted against bringing a vagrant in; it was way outside his charitable comfort zone. His concerns never went beyond the day after. Her horizon was both subtle and spiritual, she merely wanted to provide her boy a safe passage through the treacherous straits of Samsara; give him a fighting chance to free himself in Nibbana. She did harbor a simple ambition to earn the right to mother him one more time, in another incarnation, soon.
He carried out a gentle coup in her heart; in their home, she re-learnt to smile and Vincent learnt to unfrown at him. She even began to explore new avenues to circumnavigate her void and daringly commenced by unlocking rooms that were swamped by dust and art worked with cobwebs. She taught him English and music; and gradually set him on a cultured path away from his squalor and even found time to rejoice in the kilos that finally prospered over his bones. As for exposing his true face, for polishing out his aristocratic features, she had merely hastened the inevitable; pride never discolored her charity. His invalid mother had happily conferred supplementary maternal rights to his newfound guardian. Their garden had enjoyed a glorious renaissance after many months of cold rejection. His hands were better than what the doctor ordered as they eased her rheumatoid and gave her legs back. Vincent eventually suffered a predictable setback of his own and defected to the young man’s rustic charms; he transferred his treasures and responsibilities to his ex interloper’s stewardship. First his precious coins and then, his wife’s welfare at his deathbed. The man had howled like an Alsatian that had just lost his master, and kept watch by the casket until they took him for burial. She had detracted her own desolation by consoling him during her husband’s funeral.
He loved those coins addictively, she noticed with growing affection. Vincent’s obsessive passion had found an active conduit she noted with pride. This rare collection boasted an ancient silver “Purana” and several copper “Massa coins” minted by the medieval kings, Vincent had passed all his expertise to his avid student. He caressed them and polished their ornate housing with prayerful diligence. He would stay over on days when the neighborhood had a break in; this had assisted her to rediscover the art of sleeping at night. The young man showed great promise by respecting his promises. She finally took a stand and selfishly forced him to call her mother, he knew the difference between a simple request and a command. He became her other son and suddenly, unwittingly she let go; of her pain. She wanted to exact more from him; she wanted to unburden her estate on him, legally. Intentions to donate to the local Buddhist temple were cast aside without compunction; her other son had earned more rights to it, but she waited for the right time.
‘Good Night Son’
She whispered back to her departing son.
‘Come early tomorrow’
She whispered again.
‘Anything important Mother’
He asked curiously, dutifully, those eyes still deflected.
She smiled in silent response; she had made an appointment with a lawyer.
The noise smashed through her stupor; her fake sleep. It even broke over the racket made by the old ceiling fan; which distributed and re-distributed the stuffy air in the room. She knew instantly that somebody had broken in. She felt fear, the purest kind; and wished that he had stayed behind. She did not feel her legs as she got off her bed, trembling; not even the usual pain. There was deathly silence, perhaps the thief had left; she decided to ignore the searching sounds that started again, much softly this time. The shivers gave her pain; her heart deafened her. She wanted her husband, her son and her other son. Suddenly, seriously she questioned the whole point of her existence. It redeemed her and she found herself at the door, and unlocking it. It was all dark; she ignored her flapping heart and deadened legs and willed a dash for the switch. She slipped on the coins and came down brutally. She scrambled for the switch and the light overwhelmed her vision. Those coins were all over the tiled floor and he was cowering in a corner; holding the box.
He moved forward, swiftly, steadily, she didn’t see the steak knife until it sank into her ribs. She didn’t move, she felt calm, she savored the thick liquid as it gushed out of her, she didn’t feel any pain. She smiled and closed her eyes. She missed those blue eyes, dilated with greed and guilt. She just wanted to meet her son.
‘I am sorry Mother’
She didn’t hear him.
© Jude C Perera August 2012
Terry sighed and looked away. It was a long sigh; there was bitterness in it. His tax dollar was funding some of those lazy bums. The injustice bit into him. There were too many to count on the beach, late morning, and mid week, getting their sun fix.
Jude's other fiction publishing credits include; My Mom, My Niece, The Honest Politician - Hackwriters, It's a Glorious Day - Fiction 365, Redemption and I Don't Love My Dolls Anymore - The Fringe Magazine.
His Travel narratives have been featured on the international online travel magazine Travelmag,
Touchdown In Colombo (http://travelmag.co.uk/?p=4681)
Monuments and Sarees – A Tour of North India (http://travelmag.co.uk/?p=5721)
Too Close To Elephants in a Sri Lankan Forest (http://travelmag.co.uk/?p=6256)