Chapter 24 by Jeremy Nelson
Alone in the fluorescent detainment room sits Adi, cheap tea in front of him from a vending machine that Talal had brought him. It was the least he could do to not overly upset his son to the point of his sanity dissipating like a passing mist. Only when this mist passes, it does not reveal the sun. It only drags behind it the night without blazing stars. The tea steams gently from between his ever-increasingly shivering hands as a mirage clouds over his mind. Had he known his company, for which he works, killed his mother, would he have dared come this far? Or to even concoct the idea of working for them? Maybe things would have been different. But this is not possible. There was no alternate universe he could be swept up to, or a portal to walk through. His mother was dead. No other truth remains. But his father…
The mirage grows stronger now, more than palpable in the material of memories. His mind brings center the memory of that day. From waking to the break of dawn to spending long a sleepless night at her bedside. Throughout that night, he only ever left for the toilet. Whenever he came back, he always expected her to be alive, sitting up on her pillow. But it was only the light on his eyes playing wicked tricks. The restroom was brighter than the dark hospital room after all. Whenever he thought she had moved, he was a lit firework, ready to explode in exultation. But with the minutes that passed of her eyes never opening came the rain. First a single drop, then a stream. No song swings sweetly up from her silent lungs. His father was already pronounced dead a few days prior, his body mangled beyond recognition, so the grief in his heart was unimaginable.
Adi remembers her calling after him walking to school as she watches him from the car. Talal worked around the clock so Adi’s memories with his father were quite fewer than with his mother. Who could blame him? ‘The world is your oyster, little robin. Make it what you see it worth.’ He always remembered her calling him ‘little robin’. It was because Adi was not big for his age but never let his confidence falter. To his mother, he was a brave resourceful fighter who had an air of ambition about him. He hears her say it in his dreams, whenever he has them in his house, in the dark perpetual nights of suburban Matana. Last time he had heard her haunting his dreams was not too long ago. ‘Little robin. Little robin. Little robin.’ She called. To this Adi would awake in a cold sweat, and not long after would he call, quietly in a weak voice which exposed his still mourning; “Mama?”
Adi always tried his best to be strong, especially emotionally. It never got in the way of his work. In fact, he was rather slightly pedantic as far as hiding goes, and that started at his parents’ funeral. It was in glorious sunshine that day. Fresh from a night in storms. So glorious was the sun that the black clothes the mourners wore almost had colour to them. But what was brighter than the fire in the sky was their coffins. Pure snowdrops white and a presence filled the chapel when it was placed at the front for all to see. It was never opened, but Adi could feel them in it. Cold and alone. Her. It was his mother he was always closer to. He still couldn’t believe she was gone.
At the side of the dugout grave, a headstone had already been set at the end of the long, oblong hole, they all stood in a circle as both the white coffins were lowered. The mourners were double in number compared to a normal funeral. A party for Adi’s new orphan status it seemed like to him. In the chest of Adi was a heart that almost forgot to beat, stricken to the core with a grief he had never known. Foundations now circled his heart, ready for walls to come rising. Had they rose too much, he would not now remember what he overheard someone saying at the funeral. It was his mother’s brother "…she was just around at my place for a cup of coffee and sugar two hours before…" Penitence rung in Adi’s distant uncle’s voice as he said this to Dorian. Dorian was there too for a reason long forgotten. "When I find those bastards…".
That was all Adi could get before these two men glared at him and his own relative and family friend treated him an intruder. The door opens with a sucking sound and awakes Adi from his daydream. The sensation is akin to that of being smacked across the face. Sudden. Talal sits across from him, fidgeting his fingers in a lock. It suddenly dawns on Adi, before Talal could talk, the last time he felt like his parent’s little robin. It was at the funeral, where his childhood went down into the ground with her. And him. They were buried beside each other. Adi saw them, in their coffins, go down into the dark hole wet from rain the night before. He died. His dad was dead too. And part of who he is sits in front of him, back from the underworld, in flesh and bones. Haunting his being.