“Just one more injection and we will be done today,” my Dad promised.
“No, please! They make me feel sick,” I said pleading with him.
“I’m you father and a doctor, I know what’s best for you,” he demanded as he grabbed hold of my arm and stuck the needle in.
I let my body go limp, knowing there was no point resisting any further. I watched his immaculately manicured thumb push down on the plunger, the vile-looking orange liquid entering my flesh. The familiar burning sensation courses through my veins, I cringed at the pain. In the last week my skin had yellowed, bruises covered my body.
“That’s a good boy,” my dad said with a nervous smile, “It won’t be for much longer. Remember to use the bucket if you need to.”
He packed up his retro doctor’s bag and left my bedroom. I sighed and sunk back into the bed trying not to vomit. It was six weeks since my mother died. By the state of my body I don’t have much time left.
I don’t want to die without anybody knowing.
Two months ago my mother got into a car accident, side impact, by a truck driver pepped up on caffeine pills; so pepped up he fell asleep at the wheel. He ran a red light and bang, crumpled the side of my mother’s sedan.
She had lost a lot of blood. By the time paramedics arrived, the wound had stopped bleeding she had so little left. It was a miracle she ever survived.
My dad insisted she come home. Sitting on the chairs outside her room, I heard him argue with the consultant for half an hour before he stormed out before telling me I had to stay at Rick’s house tonight and that my mum would be home in the morning.
I wasn’t allowed to speak with my mother. My father barred me from entering their bedroom, he kept it locked at all times. I listened to the door to just hear her make some sound that she was alive. But nothing for days.
I would sit in front of her door, wondering how long it would be until I could see my mother again. When began to think I would never see her again, I heard moans. But only after my dad would enter the room with the medicine.
Another week and she said she well enough for me to see her. She looked horrible, her skin was pale and cold to the touch. I was glad my mother was alive, however touch and go that was.
Surprisingly not very long after that she was cooking our dinner, she insisted on helping out, it was the least she could do she would say.
Sitting at the table, she passed out vegetables and carved meat. But there was something wrong with her eyes, they seemed to be missing something, you know that magic that tells you a person is who they are. She was frail however. Her movements were stiff and inaccurate, a lot of plates and glasses were broken.
Through the week her hands began to shake more, it began impossible for her to carry anything. Her gaze became all the more distant. She barely spoke to us any more. I asked my dad did she have blood poisoning or something, he said the meds he was giving her were not working properly and her dosage needed adjusting.
I didn’t see him giving her the injections until she was too debilitated and anaemic to do anything. She spent hours in the living room, sitting in her armchair, watching TV. A small fan heater at her feet blowing into her face. The room was beyond hot, but I wanted her to get better.
The only times she did get up were to go to the bathroom and throw up. I could swear I never saw her eat. My dad said he fed her intravenously in the daytime while I was at school, not wanting me to see my mother like that.
At the end of the third week her eyes were pink and her skin sallow.
I began doing my homework in the lounge with her, keeping her company. All she did was sleep, her head hanging down in front of her. She gave out raspy sounds of her laboured breathing.
“Get back to your homework,” my Dad snarled when I watched him inject my mother with another vial full of orange liquid. Sad moans were all she could muster in response.
“Can’t we take her back to the hospital, she looks really sick?” I asked.
“No, there’s nothing they can do, she’ll die. Do you want her to die, do you?”
“No dad, no!” I cried and ran up to my room. I stayed there most nights after that. My dad would bring me my meals, because I refused to eat downstairs and see my mother like that and to have him shout at me again.
The day before she died, I watched her from the hallway. The only signs of life, the breathing motion of her chest, the in and out very sparse and shallow. Her skin was jaundiced, a hideous yellow. Purple patches had become visible all over her skin and a sour musty smell filled the air.
I felt so sad for her, I just wanted her to be out of pain and not suffer any more. My wish came true at some point during the night.
In the morning I asked puzzled, but fearing the worst, “Dad, where’s mum?”
“She’s gone son, she’s gone.”
That was the only time I saw any sort of emotion on my dad’s face, it wasn’t sadness, it was anger. He went down into the basement and stayed there.
I became depressed. I didn’t see my dad much. I wondered when he was going back to work. I spent my time around my friend Rick’s house. I could tell his parents were worried for me, but they were so caring and cooked meals for me every day, even the weekend, but I was happy with that.
Three weeks ago I got into an accident of my own. The front tyre of my bike blew out on the small bridge on the way home from school. All I can remember is putting my hands out in front of me to brace my fall. The next, waking up in my bed with my dad looking over me.
“You’re awake! Can you see me son,” he said while holding a finger up in front of my face. My eyes, albeit very blurry, followed his finger, “Terrific son. Now, stay where you are, you have had a lot of internal bleeding and I don’t want you rupturing anything, okay?”
I nodded back.
I hurt all over, my stomach one big purple bruise. My head ached and I was constantly tired. Pain emanated from a large lump in my left arm.
I felt well enough to get up after a week, even then I was in constant pain and I dreaded the injections.
After every one of them I felt nauseous and threw up what little food I had eaten into the bucket next to my bed. My dad did not come and see me regularly enough to clean it out, just the thought of it being left in my room made me feel ill.
Through painful muscles I picked up the bucket and left the room. The house was quiet, either my dad was out or he was in the basement again. I hobbled over to the bathroom and caught a glimpse of a stack of red headed letters on my dad’s office table. Leaving the bucket where I was, I snuck into his room.
Bill after bill of unpaid debt, electricity weeks in arrears, the last warning on the mortgage.
Where had all his savings gone?
At the bottom of the pile were the notarised letters from lawyers, suing him for medical malpractice.
What the hell?
I heard a door open below so made my way back to my bedroom, with my bucket still full of foulness. Footsteps stopped outside my room and the door opened.
“It’s time for your next injection,” he grinned, he appeared much happier than he had been.
“No dad, no, I don’t want any more,” I pleaded with him.
“Just one more, I promise.” he bargained with me.
“You said that yesterday.”
I hurt even more today and my eyesight is getting worse. My arms feel cold to touch. I see my skin yellowing like my mother’s, purple bruises cover my body. I have very little energy.
I realise I have not seen the outside world for weeks. I push myself up with all my might and drag my way over to the window, opening the curtains.
The brightness is immense, but the light does not hurt my eyes, if anything the outdoors is drab and colourless.
I see the neighbour boy playing in the street on his tricycle. He looks up at me, I manage a wave but wince in the process. The kid screams. Confused I watch as he runs away crying, leaving his bike behind him.
My mind is blank, I realise I have no real memories from the time since I was sick. It’s all been a blur.
And that’s when it hits me.
I’ve not spoken to Rick in weeks. He’ll be worried about me.
I pick up the landline phone next to my bed.
No dial tone.
It’s been disconnected from the wall and the cable is missing.
I hear my dad returning to my room. I make my way back into bed, my whole being burning from the effort.
He knocks on the door before he enters, he never knocks. When I see his face, he’s grinning, a wider grin than I would have ever though possible.
“Son, I have some good news about your mother.”
There was something sinister in his tone.
What the fuck good news could there be about my mother?
“I’ll be back in a minute.”
I am not excited, I am scared.
I wait for the sounds to go as he descends the stairs. Pulling myself out of the bed, I fall to the ground. In the bottom drawer I have an old phone and charger. I pull it open and search through the underwear and socks, until my hand lands on the phone.
I plug it in to the socket and relax my back on the wall next to it. It takes a minute to boot up and I have trouble remembering Rick’s number, I am lucky the phone has not lost my list of contacts.
The phone refuses to ring and I am told the credit has expired. I contemplate ringing collect, when the notification of twelve new emails flood in. I open the email app and see the subjects.
I hope it’s not true – Is the first email I see, it’s from my internet buddy, RockerDave. I click on the email.
My jaw drops as I read.
“I heard you died dude, please tell me it’s not true?”
The email is followed by a response.
“Shit, your dad told me. I’m sorry man. I don’t know why I am replying really, seeing you’ll never be able to read this. But, I just can’t believe it, you know? I hope it didn’t hurt. Take care pal…”
I look down at my arms and see what I now know is necrotising flesh. I think I’m dead and I think my mum is too.
My dad is shouting up the stairs, “Son, I have some good news for you, your mum wants to see you.”