One Day

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  • Published: 24 Apr 2015
  • Updated: 24 Apr 2015
  • Status: Complete
A story about how loss can tear people apart as well as bring them together.


1. M

  To most people, it seemed like any other day; the weather being the usual grey color, so clouds were expected to leak a few tears, and tired kids coming home from a long day to avoid telling their parents the truth about what had happened at school. Nothing was particularly different – although one of the puzzle pieces was missing, the world continued to function as if nothing were wrong.

  His fork tripped on the plate as he attempted to stab a piece of overcooked broccoli, creating a shrill sound close to the one caused by nails on a chalkboard. Even after several seconds, that ringing still seemed to stay in his ear, like the kind of tinnitus you would get after a wild concert.

  It had been quite a while since the kitchen had been somewhat clean. Dishes were stacked on top of each other, balancing like the Leaning Tower of Pisa; half of the food in the fridge had surpassed its best before date several weeks ago; and a smell of old people and antique perfume hung in the air. He kept telling himself that he would get it done sometime – that he was too busy at the moment – but a part of him was well aware that this procrastination would stay with him until the day he himself lay in a casket as well.

  “Aren’t you going to eat any of that?” he asked, his colorless eyebrows curving slightly. “Don’t you like it?”

  She didn’t reply. She had not said a single word since the eulogy, which itself had persisted of nothing but three, tiny words, and it didn’t seem like she had any plans to open her mouth in the nearest future. At this very moment, her lips were sealed with glue, a zipper, and a few stitches that needed time to heal the wound before being removed.

  The silence was deafening. It was the kind that startled the desperation in people and made them talk about the weather or retell boring stories from their past; the kind that said more than a thousand words within just a few looks – a set of flickering puppy eyes, a running nose that was mistaken for a nose bleed, and preoccupied, shaky fingers. It was the kind that made emptiness seem heavier than even the most glorious messes, like an unsolvable crossword in the newspaper.

  “At least just eat the vegetables,” he mumbled, “they’re good for you.”

  But she didn’t move a single bit. Instead, she stayed there, still as a mannequin, wishing she could get rid of the feeling of bitterness gnawing her heart. She didn’t like this situation more than he did; both of them were mourning over the loss of a beloved family member, and yet they had no clue how to turn that pain into words.

  Maybe this is what it feels like to grow up, she thought to herself, the wheels in her nine-year-old brain spinning. She had always been quite thoughtful, but it wasn’t until now that she started considering that maybe death wasn’t one of the props in this crazy play called life – it was actually the main character. Maybe it was one of those insignificant objects that later turned out to be the source of the entire plot.

  He let out a sigh. “Listen –“

  “Just shut up!” As the plate was shattered into a million pieces, so was his worn-out heart. “You’re not my mom, alright? She’s not here anymore, and you can’t keep acting as if it’s okay for you to step in and pretend she was never even here. It’s not fair.

  She ran into her room, and he took a deep breath of exhaustion. He had never been good at fixing something broken; it just didn’t run in his side of the family. Even though he was trying as hard as he could, he wasn’t sure that this positive façade of his would remain intact when no results were showing because he was indeed hurting, and he had been for a couple of days; but the difference between the two of them was that she was allowed to show it, and he wasn’t. It didn’t matter how much he wanted to take a break from life or switch off his humanity for a couple of days – he simply couldn’t. Something he had come to face over the years was that as people aged, they were expected to take the role of the mature one; the one who had to support everyone else but himself.

  Peeking into her newly decorated room, he found her sitting on her bed with headphones plugged in and eyes closed. It almost looked as if she were meditating, but he knew better; if he listened carefully enough, he was even able to distinguish the different tones as they went up and down. By now, he knew the song by heart – back in 1979, his daughter had played it again and again and again until the point of perfection, and she had proudly brought home a nice, big trophy from her first competition. It made him think of the many hours she had spent by the now dusty piano, which did nothing but gather coats of dust.

  Hearing the melody again for the first time in so many years made him realize just how badly he wished his daughter could’ve been there to play it. She had always been such a showoff, seeing no reason to hide her pride, and he was sure that if she were still here, she would have attempted to teach her daughter how to play and fail miserably because she was such a perfectionist. She would have tried to keep a straight face although she was close to giving up inside – tied together with a smile because she cared so deeply for others.

  But there was no point in daydreaming, he thought to himself. The truth was that she was indeed gone, and so were the last particles of happiness. 

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