The poet, part five
This is the fifth part of my short story, The Poet. Please would you correct my mistakes.
When my mother calmed down a little, we took a taxi to the hospital. We saw him lying motionless on his back with his eyes closed, as if he were asleep. She yanked herself out of my arms and flung herself on his body, calling out his name, tousling his hair with her fingers and kissing his cold, pale face.
We had a small and inexpensive funeral attended by close family and friends. My father and his new wife came also. He shook hands with my mother and spoke to her, but when my sister and I saw him, we immediately walked off and hide behind the chapel to avoid an eventual confrontation. I knew that if I met him face to face I would spit at him and probably hit him, so keeping away from him was the best solution.
As time went by, we turned our thoughts and energies to our own everyday problems, although my mother talked about Joakim all the time. Whenever there was a scientific program on TV she would start crying and telling us, “My poor Joakim, if he were still alive, he would be now on TV, giving interviews and delivering lectures.” She kept his room as it was on the day he had left the house, and she did not allow anyone to clean it but herself. I hoped that now when Joakim was dead, she would dedicate more attention to me, but instead she continued ignoring me, and did not try to hide her feelings for Irena. I did not understand what I had done to deserve such treatment. It could be that our personalities did not match each other, or she felt that I was going to fail in life and did not want to waste her energy on me, or our world views were different and we did not share the same ideas and values. I was more romantically inclined and an idealist, while my mother was pragmatic and a materialist to the core.
Soon my sister began studying psychology at university, and my mother started to see the brighter side of life. Her son had passed away, but here was her daughter, reading day and night and preparing herself for a successful career. When she did not read, she would usually spend her time with her boyfriend, also a student. They would sit in her room listening to pop music, and at weekends, they would go to the city centre and party with other students late into the night.
My sister had always had good health, and unlike me, she seldom went to see a doctor. However, one day she started complaining of bad headache. At the beginning she believed that the main cause of her problem was the long hours she would spend inside, pouring over her books, and she did not pay much attention to it. The pain was not constant but came and disappeared in waves. When it affected her concentration and reading, she would take some pain killers and continue as before. Nothing could have stopped her in her eagerness to acquire more knowledge. Many months passed before she had finally decided to make an appointment and see her GP, who in turn referred her to a specialist. They performed an MRI scan, and the diagnosis was devastating. The tumour was growing inside her skull and threatening her life. She came back from the hospital pale and crying. She could not believe that from millions of other human beings the treacherous illness had chosen her body as the next victim.
My mother and I tried to console her, but she was inconsolable. She stopped attending her courses, and did not want to hear anything about her career as a psychologist. Sometimes in the night, I would wake up only to hear the sobbing from her room, and my heart was aching. I was helpless and could only pray that a miracle would happen and she would become healthy again. More exams followed to confirm the diagnosis, and then the surgeons finally had no other choice but to perform a craniotomy. They have removed part of the tumour, but despite our hopes and prayers, my sister passed away. Almost two years after Joakim’s funeral, my mother and I were in the same place, this time burring my sister. My father arrived again to offer his condolences, but I was in no mood to meet him, and I hid again, despite feeling a pang of guilt.
After my sister’s death, nothing had changed between my mother and me. She continued to praise her dead children as if they had still been alive, as if they still had a bright future before them. It hurt me terribly to see her devoting her thoughts to those who would never return and ignoring me as if I did not exist at all. I pretended as if I did not notice her behaviour, and I comforted myself with the thought that one day I was going to leave the house and turn my back on her for ever. Soon I started studying literature at university, and I would spend most of my time attending courses, or reading books and magazines in the university library.
I tried to be away from home as much as I could, and when I came home I would eat dinner in the kitchen and after that I would go directly into my room, thus avoiding my mother’s boring soliloquies. Unfortunately, my entrance into the academia ended with a complete disaster. Already after two terms, I had had enough of Shakespeare’s tragedies, Cervantes Don Quixote and Goethe’s Faust. I could not imagine myself sitting year after year in dusty libraries, bent over the books of famous writers, filling my mind with their poems, stories and novels. I was wasting my time and living in illusion of becoming a well-educated person and respected member of society. The more time went by, I felt that even if I passed all the exams and obtained my diploma I would never work in my profession. I had already started loathing the university and its world of coteries, envy and hatred, hidden behind a veneer of knowledge and politeness.
To be continued.
Re: The poet, part five
Very good, but be careful, you are killing off most of your characters pretty fast.
Originally Posted by Bassim
Re: The poet, part five
Thank you so much. I felt that I needed to describe the past of the Poet, so that readers can understand how he feels. Now his sister and brother are dead. And he will also break contact with his mother. So the only reason for his life is his poetry, which he loves more than anything. And this is where the breakfast with the Prime Minister is going to have the most important role in his life. This is the longest short story I have ever written and it is almost like a novella, but all the details and introductions are some kind of preparations for that important encounter with the leader of the country, which the Poet sees as the chance of his life, which will change his existence. But life is often elusive...
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