“You find a package at your door with nothing on it but your name.”
– a prompt for this week’s CW piece.
The last couple of weeks of my mom’s life, I thought life was weird because aside from her nothing else mattered. Most of my time was spent at the hospital by her side. It was just her and I, so there was no choice, really. There was no one to come and relieve me, but I would not have it any other way. She lived selflessly. Now it was my time to repay that debt. Even if only for a brief moment.
However, it was after her death that life became bizarre. I was out of my element, but the funeral arrangements had to be taken care of, so I got it done. In fact, it was rather helpful for my psyche. I threw myself into work mode. There were so many things that had to be arranged and monitored, but that only meant there was less downtime. Less time for me to feel. It was good because I did not want to feel. Even though I was not sure what I felt, I knew it was something I could not handle at that point in time.
It finally hit me that she was really gone when they lowered her casket into the ground. Gone for good. But then again, maybe it was all my creative imagination. I did not see HER lowered into the hole in the ground, after all, have I? After the ceremony, I went home. To the house where she lived. Even though I had moved out a couple of years back into my own apartment, that house never stopped being my home. I spent some of my most formative years there.
Coming home after the funeral was surreal. I turned the key, pushed the door open and disarmed the alarm. The house was quiet. Eerie. There was no one there. There was no one on their way home. It was just me. I walked through the house, looking into every room, making sure that she was not there. Hoping that she would be. Her cashmere perfume was still in the air. Everything was neat and organized as if she just cleaned it.
She was not coming back. I had to clear out the house before the lease was up. I had my work cut out for me – more stuff to occupy my brain. And so I went from room to room, trying to design a plan for getting rid of some things and packing the others, but that quickly turned into: “Brain capacity overload”. I went into the living room, placed my back against the cold wall and slid down to the floor. She was the one who was a master in organizing. She would know what to do with it all. But it was not because of that that I cried and shook uncontrollably. It was because I lost a mother and a best friend. It was because I was all alone in the world now. It was an overwhelmingly scary feeling. I liked to think that once I was out of her womb, and then out of the house, I was no longer dependant on her. That I was my own person, living my own life. However, in that moment, I realized that the umbilical cord was never really cut until now. The bond was still there. She still supplied me with necessary elements such as love and support. And now the cord vanished entirely and I did not know where to go. I was so lost.
The ringing of the doorbell was what pulled me back into reality. Wiping away my tears, I shuffled my feet to the front door. “I’m coming” – I said from the foyer, not sure if anyone could hear me on the other side through the thick door. As I pulled the door open, I realize that I never checked who it was. I could be facing a murderer in a split second. But now it was too late. I let out a sigh of relief when I saw no one in front of me. The only thing out of place was a package with my name on it. I turned it around, checking all the sides for the sender’s name and address, but did not find anything. My name was the only writing on the box. Like in the movies, I leaned against the railing on the front porch and looked as far as I could gaze, but the street was absolutely quiet.
There was a moment during which I thought of throwing the box back onto the street, worried that it was a bomb, but then I quickly realized that I was not significant enough to warrant such an explosive package. I shook it gently, assessing the weight. It was not very heavy, but I could not figure out what was inside, so I pulled a knife from the block on the kitchen counter, and carefully opened the box.
The contents disoriented me thoroughly. There was a bundle of envelopes. All addressed to me. Same handwriting as on the box. There were a couple of different addresses on the envelopes since mom and I moved a couple of times, but they all looked correct. However, they were all crossed out with a red pen, and “Return to sender” was written next to it. It was my mom’s handwriting. Finally, one thing that I knew for sure. A shiver ran down my spine when I looked at the top left corner. Tom Banks. “Who is he?” – I wondered for a split second, before scrolling to the second line. The address. A correctional facility. “Prison?” – I asked out loud, realizing how silly that was with no one around.
After a couple of phone calls, and a few days later, I walked into the state penitentiary, not knowing what to expect. A man on the phone begged me to come. He said it was important and that he was going to answer all of my questions in person. When I entered the room with people in orange jumpsuits on one side and everyone else on the other, I wanted to run. I had no idea what I was doing there. Some crazy person asked me to come, and I did. No questions asked. “How stupid!” – I thought, clutching a few of the mystery letters in my pocket. But before I could turn around, I saw a man waving at me. He was in his late 50s. Blond. Neat haircut. Clean shaven. If I saw him on the street, I would never think of him as a criminal. “But what is a criminal supposed to look like?” – I asked myself, approaching the partition. I sat down and pulled the phone receiver off the wall like I have seen in the movies a million times.
“Hi” – I said, not knowing what to do next.
“I’ sorry for your loss” – he said and placed his hand against the glass.
“Thank you” – I said, quizzically looking at his hand.
“I saw the obituary in the paper” – he explained.
“Ah” – I uttered happily, knowing that there was an easy explanation as to how he knew anything about me.
“So you got my letters?”
“If you’re Tom Banks, then yes, I did.”
“Yes, I am.”
For a minute we sat in silence.
“Nicole, have you read any of the letters?”
“I think it would be a good idea for you to read them. They explain it all.”
“Why don’t you explain it all right now?”
“I can’t. And you’re not ready.”
“Why am I here? Why are YOU here? Who are you?”
“I’m your father. But the rest, you will have to find out from the letters.”
The guards came and took him away. Just like that.
“I’m your father” echoed in my ears as I placed the receiver back on the wall, stood up and walked out.
“But mom said you were dead” – I said under my breath.
P.S. As always, you are more than welcome to use this prompt to inspire your post. If you decide to write something, be sure to pingback to this post, so that I can get an alert and check out your post. (A post on how to do pingbacks can be found here.) If pingbacks are not your thing, feel free to simply leave a link to your piece in the comment section below. The more, the merrier!
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