I know there is something wrong immediately as I enter our tiny flat. The tension and sorrow is all over in the air like a thick, straining fog, emanating from mum's hunching figure on the sofa, perfectly still, staring ahead at nothing. A deep apprehension immediately grips my heart, but I repress it telling myself not to overreact it until I don't even know what the problem is, or how big it is.
I quickly close the door and haul my scrappy rucksack to the ground, already striding toward her, eager to find out what has upset her so much, but also dread it, because I'm unable to extinguish the seed of the mayhem, the foreboding feeling that I'm not overreacting.
“What's wrong?” I ask, frowning, but get back nothing. No answer, but not even a startled gasp, blink, or any sort of sign that she noticed me. The foreboding feeling rises and worry joins it not only for what might have happened, but for mum. “What's wrong, mum?” I ask again, this time louder, emphasizing the word “mum” and I stop, cresting above her small frame.
This time it seems to penetrates to her, because as though she jerked out of a trance, mum snaps her head to my direction and blinks a few times, surprised, but then when she registers that it's just me, her face goes back to blank once again, however, this time she stays straight-backed and vigilant. When I start to think she won't say anything she breathes my name with voice that's dripping with fear, despair and grief and I swallow against the growing lump in my throat at her distant, raspy from crying voice.
I've never heard her be like this. She has always been the one who was unremittingly optimistic and cheerful out of the three of us. Of course, like everybody else she's had bad days and awful experiences, too, but she has never been like this. I have seen her cry, but never like this. This complete numbness to the world, obviously indicating something way worse than a sacking or a humiliating remark from some rich folks at the restaurant scares me more than anything. I start to tremble a bit, but I shove my hands in my pockets so that she won't notice it. Though, I doubt she is aware enough to do so even if I let them stay out.
As she still doesn't answer, I'm unsure if she heard my question at all and I'm about to repeat myself once more, but then she finally opens her mouth hesitantly and I bite my tongue, letting her speak. “I got a letter today” she whispers and keeps staring down. If I wasn't positive enough, now I'm a hundred percent sure that something dreadful happened and instantly millions of possible type of letters come to my mind that can ignite such a mental state. I see bills and types of reports like walking papers and death reports. This latter sends a shiver up my spine, and inflicts me to get a straining knot to my stomach next to the lump in my throat. The two together gives me a rather hard time with breathing. In this new world none of the above mentioned would be unexpected.
“It's...” she breaks off and a tear rolls down on her cheek. She looks away to hide it and I turn my face away, too, not knowing what else to do. I feel uncomfortable seeing her in so much pain, but I don't know how I could console her. I've never been good at it. I rather bottle up my feelings, because I don't know how to deal with them and the same goes for others' so in the end I just cringe and stay put. For my utter relief though, she composes herself quickly, however, she stops trying to force out the words. She decides to show me instead; with shaking hands she picks up a tear-soaked, crumpled sheet of paper from the coffee table in front of her and offers it to me so slowly, I'm positive she's thinking whether to yank it back and not to give it to me. I swiftly snatch the letter from her before it could happen.
I'm too unnerved to read it through carefully, but I manage to take a look at who sent it. After "from", the feared "Cyborg" word states it was written by our new despot and I can't suppress the apprehension anymore. It swells up full-on, seizing my body, making my stomach churn, my heart lift to my throat and my lungs constrict. I nearly throw up to the paper and I have to sit down in order not to faint. Ans yet, in spite all of this I can't wait another second to learn about its content so I jump to the main part, scanning it perfunctorily, only picking up words and phrases like “regret to inform” “Michael Quinn” and “execution”. Yet it's more than enough to put the pieces together. I go cold, hands now trembling like mum's, tears springing to my eyes, however, unlike mum I do not stop there. Although the tears don't diminish, the coldness turns into red-hot rage in a flash, so much, so overwhelming that my hands' shaking increases until it's so violent I tear the paper at several places.
I launch up and scream “Why?” I don't recognize my own voice, it's so high-pitched and hysterical it comes out in only a raspy drawl. “Why?” I repeat to make sure mum understands what I want, even though I don't know exactly either whether I mean why the execution or why him, why us, but it doesn't get any better. If anything it's even worse.
I roar up in an attempt of getting rid off the fury, but it helps nothing and so I took a few blind steps forward moved by the desire of wrecking. They can so why can't I? I think. Because you're not them. You gotta stop this. A reasonable part of my brain tries to take over, but it's too feeble. My uncontrollable, boisterous part, I, push it away quickly, growing even angrier over how does that weak little girl in me dare to think she can dictate? I knock over the coffee table, not fully out of intention, but it makes me unstoppably want to throw things across the room. I stagger for the TV, the easiest thing in the room to break.
But before I can execute my violent plan, I bump into something. Or rather somebody because the barrier before me is soft and warm and shorter than me by two inches. What's more, she has my wrists in tight grips, tight enough to keep me at a place, but careful not to be too strong so that she doesn't cause me any pain. Maybe pain would be a good thing for once, though. I want to tell her to tighten her fists, but she cuts in before I could say a word.
“Dara. Stop it. You are over this." I hear her talking to me. "You've overcome this once and you are better than having a relapse. You are so strong, use your strength in the right way.” Mum's voice is quiet and soothing and her words works as they yield enough might to that little, good girl to chase away the feral me.
It didn't for the first time or the second or the third, but after so many years of practice for both of us, she knows what to tell me in order to reach me and I know how to hear her. I've also learned different techniques to repress my conniption fits even with the tiniest consciousness. I start the practised routine, counting from ten and taking deeper and deeper breaths to even my breathing. I image with closed eyes that the waves of anger, which still keep coming on to me, leave with them. With mum's unrelenting cooing, I start from ten all over again every time I reach zero.
After counting down eleven times — new record, I think bitterly—mum's haggard face is looming in front of me completely clear, my vision is without a hint of red, and my breathing is calm and steady. “Okay?” enquires mum and I nod slightly, suddenly feeling exhausted.
This always happens after the fits. The rage seems to suck all the energy away from me thus after each temper tantrum I'm left worn out physically as well as emotionally to an empty shell that only wants to crawl into bed and forget what happened. I don't even have energy to hate this feeling. I just shuffle into my room, quickly strip off my clothes leaving them on the small office chair in front of my desk and then fall right into bed.