The Fateful Day
By: Marc Goel
October 25, 2018
It was never clear what happened that day. Nobody wanted to talk to me about it and my memory is, up to this day, fuzzy. But I can still pry out a lot of the minor details of what happened during the soccer game. All semester, I was practicing for the big game. Working for hours every day, just so I was prepared. After school each day, I would sneak out into the soccer field just to get in a little more practice.
Then, the day of the game finally arrived. All morning, it was raining. So, I couldn’t get a lot of outdoor practice done without slipping in mud, but I still did it. At 8:00, I had the ball. Desperately, I kicked it toward a goal. Unfortunately, it wasn’t our goal I was running at, but I had the ball, and that’s all that mattered.
I charged toward the goal, stomping on the moist dirt. I never ran as fast in my life. Everything around me faded. Just me, the ball, and the goal. I didn’t realize what was happening behind me. That I was sprinting toward the enemy goal, and my entire team was chasing after me.
I was too young to differentiate my team from the enemy team, but I was so close to a goal. In my mind, goal means win, then I slipped.
The soil was still wet from the thunderstorm that morning. I should’ve known better than to run on the mud. My body crashed into the ground, rattling my teeth.
Zac, one of the older kids in my class, collided into me. I was sent flying through the air, and I crashed, head first, into the metal goal. My vision went blurry. The pain faded as my entire body became numb. but I could feel pressure on my torso. Like feet kicking my stomach. Until my faded vision became completely black.
That’s when I woke up.
A soft, cold breeze blew across my cheek. I could feel the warm weight of a blanket on top of me. Suddenly, like a wrecking ball pinning me against a building, the pain was back. My head was pounding too hard for me to think properly. My middle ached with bruises and cuts, all along my back and stomach. I opened my eyes into thin slits. I was in my room. Bright sunlight flooded into the room through an open window. All of my stuffed animals were lined up beside my bed as always. And my bookshelf was still covered with my favourite stories.
I groaned and pushed myself up. It felt like I was asleep for days. Despite the wind leaking through the window, the room was very hot. I looked over at my bedside clock. It was 12:40. How could I have slept in so long? I usually woke up at seven.
My door creaked open slightly. A heavy smell of bacon and eggs drifted into the room, sparking my hunger. I turned my head and saw a face peeking in through the door opening. “I thought I heard something in here.” I could hear the smile in her voice.
My mom opened the door wider until she could slip into the room. She was wearing a pink shirt, jeans, and slippers, with an apron covering her chest. “I made you some breakfast.” Her tone was cheerful and forgiving. “Plus, I cleared my schedule so that I can spend the day with you!” She clapped her hands together.
My vision adjusted to the sunlight. “Uh, okay.” I stared into her wide eyes darting around my body. “S-sorry I slept for so long.”
Mom’s expression changed. Her eyebrows lowered and her giant grin becomes a sad smile. “That’s okay, honey.” She comforted, glancing between me and the clock. “And besides, it’s not that late.”
I wanted to correct her by explaining how I usually had lunch at this time, but my headache throbbed harder as I started to move my lips. “Ah…” I closed my eyes and rubbed my forehead with the palm of my hand. It felt like a dozen tiny crowbars hammering behind my eyes.
Mom moved over to me and sat down on my bed. Her eyes were paler than usual. She looked kinda sick. “Are you okay, sweetheart?” She asked, her voice was a bit shakier up close.
I gritted my teeth through the pain, taking in long breaths through my nose. “M-my head.” I glanced at her. The expression on her face was off. She was smiling, not a trace of concern on her face, but I ignored her. “My head hurts. Do we still have that headache medicine?”
Mom clicked her tongue “No.” She scratched her head, her smile still placed. “My head’s been bothering me too.” She lifted her self off my bed and padded over to my window. “Maybe I should go buy some.”
She turned around and our eyes met. I could tell she wanted me to ‘convince’ her to stay home. But I kept my mouth shut. She tried to hide that she was disappointed in my silence.
Mom sighed. “Alright. I’ll go get some.” As she began trotting out of the room, slippers squeaking on the wooden floor, I could see her hands shaking at her sides. She stopped in place at my door. “The table is already set.” Her voice was emotionless. “Feel free to have breakfast.” She glanced at me, then faded into the darkness of the hallway outside my room.
I closed my eyes. The fluffiness of my pillow helped keep my headache under wraps. I tried visualizing the soccer game the other night. How could I have been so stupid? I couldn’t help mouthing the words. Besides, if I really had wanted to play soccer, I should’ve at least memorized which goal is which. Of course, it was just a dumb game, I doubt anyone remembered it at all, but that didn’t stop me from swimming in my pool of self-hate.
I took in a deep breath. The mouth-watering smell filled my nostrils again. “Breakfast…” I muttered to my pillow. Trying to recover an ounce of energy in my body, I push myself up. Mom’s breakfasts were never great, but I felt an uncontrollable hunger bubbling in my stomach. I twisted my body around and let my feet touch the floor. Getting up would arouse all the soreness in my body, but I managed to pull off my blanket and stand. Another frigid breeze touched my skin, sending a chill through my body, despite the actual temperature. I took a few steps over to the door, craving food. As I entered the hall, I admired the scenery. Mom must have redecorated that morning. I was used to seeing a dark, empty hallway. But now, there was a grey-brown carpet covering the wood. The bare walls were lined with photos I hadn’t seen in years.
The first picture I noticed was of me and my brother, Tod, sitting at the table. We looked about five, maybe six. My brother was laughing hysterically, but my expression was pained. There was blood dripping from my mouth and in my hand was a half-eaten sandwich, stained with scarlet. I quickly recalled the memory. That was when I lost my first tooth. I felt so cool at the time, but it hurt a lot. A lot. The tooth was loose, but not that loose. I remember biting into the sandwich and yanking the moller straight out of my mouth with an amount of pain I could never ever had expected back then.
My eyes glided to the photo next to it. It was of Tod and my mother. The picture was recent, probably when he was ten. The two of them stood in the park at about noon. Mom had her arms wrapped around her son, with a giant, highly exaggerated grin. Tod didn’t share her happiness, he was frowning, looking down at the ground. Overall, his expression was a mixture of depression and hatred, and I knew why. This never happened to me, thankfully, but Tod told me one night that Mom beat him when she drank. Unfortunately, she always had a bottle in hand at the time. Her abuse lead to Tod’s decision of running away, and I remember that night like it was yesterday. He was more depressed than usual, and before I went to sleep, he crawled out of the window of our room. I haven’t seen him once after that.
Tears appeared in my eyes as I stared at the picture, remembering the look on his face as he told me the truth. Why would Mom hang this picture up?
I continued looking at the photos. None of them were happy. There were pictures of when I fell off my bike and nearly broke my leg, there were pictures of when me and Tod got caught sneaking out and were forced to clean the house.
There were pictures of him the night he left.
I lost my appetite. My stomach twisted at the thought of Tod kneeling on the ground, being whacked with a belt as tears fell down his face. I forced myself to never bring up Mom’s abusive behaviour around Tod because I was afraid she’d hit me too. Plus, I wanted to make sure she never knew that I knew.
Rattling the floor beneath me, I heard the front door closing downstairs. I got sparked back into reality and remember how little food I had in the past twenty-four hours. My belly rumbled once more as I tried to ignore the thoughts of my brother. Still frail from just waking up, I took careful steps down the stairs and into the small kitchen.
Despite the size, the kitchen was quite pretty. Mom always kept it tidy, cleaning it multiple times a day. I always thought it was weird how much of a neat freak she was, but I couldn’t help admiring the glistening marble of the island countertop. To the left of the kitchen, just in view, is the dining room. I continued walking forward into the kitchen to get a good look at the breakfast on the table. Sitting in the center of the breakfast was a large bowl of fruit. Next to it was a stack of burned pancakes and a container of syrup. On the other side of the fruit was an entire stick of butter.
I licked my lips. I doubted that the pancakes would taste good, do to the blackened surface, but my hunger took control of my body. I pulled out a chair and sat down in silence.
Standing in the middle of the soccer field that night, half of the school staring at me, judging my movement. The cold wind sent a shiver down my spine. My other, much better, teammates expected a good game from me. That’s the amount of fear I felt during this moment.
I was petrified, glued to my chair. Moving was impossible. I just sat still, numb. I couldn’t even feel my mom’s sharp fingernails digging into my arm as she held it against the table. Mom wore a mental look on her face. The same look from when she woke me up about a half hour earlier. In her right hand, she held the large shot filled with the blue liquid, the long needle was facing down, like she was holding a knife. She lifted the shot higher into the air. Light reflected off the metal and into my eyes for a split second. Then, I was snapped back into reality and realized what my mom was doing.
Her left hand was wrapped around my wrist, pinned my entire arm against some of the leftover dishes on the tabletop. She breathed heavily through her gritted teeth, savoured each breath as if she was just underwater. Her eyes widened and she wound her right arm back farther, like a butcher about to kill a pig. And then I realized that I was the pig in that situation.
I closed my eyes and tried to push words out of my throat. “M-mom…”’ My voice was too shaky for anyone to understand, but it was impossible to calm myself. “Mom, w-whatever you’re about to do, p-please don’t do it…”
But it was too late.
With one swift motion, Mom thrust her arm at mine, the shot in her hand. The needle stabbed into my wrist, blood leaking from the wound. My hand twitched uncontrollably. The pain was unbearable, but I couldn’t scream.
Mom pushed down and released the blue liquid into my newly-opened bloodstream. I felt it travel up my arms and around my body, giving me a dizzy feeling. And then the pain was overthrown by a sudden numbness throughout my entire body.
My free hand started shaking, fidgeting with one of the dirty forks on the table. I had enough energy to run across the and back, while at the same time, I was relaxed enough to fall asleep right in my chair. I could feel the edges of my mouth perking up my cheeks. Was I smiling?
Mom slowly pulled the shot out of my skin, and wiped it on her shirt. She didn’t carefully push the needle into my arm like the doctors used to. She stabbed it, and judging by the amount of blood on both the shot and my arm, I assumed that was probably a bad thing.
I didn’t care. I just felt cheerful and I couldn’t figure out why. I should’ve been crying or screaming. How could I be happy when my own mom just forced a needle into my veins?
I let go of the fork, which I realized I was squeezing with all of my might. “What was that?” I asked, my voice calm and relaxed, and kind of slurred.
Mom let go of my arm and giggled, her fingernails leaving an imprint in my skin. She brought the shot up to her face and stared at the excess liquid inside it. “Just a little happy,” she lowered the item to meet my eyes. “So that you weren’t so sad.”
I started to feel a bit dizzier after her words. The room around me began to change shape slightly; slanting to the side or changing colour, even if just a little bit. I looked down at the dishes on the table. There were twice as many now, most of them blurred or misshapen. I turned to look at my mom, who at the time was crooked and smudged.
“Don’t worry. The high only lasts for a minute or two.” I could barely make out her words. Was that even my mom speaking? Her voice was distorted and accompanied by a combination of water gurgling and pure white noise. Then my vision weakened and everything was blurred. The shades of unique colours darkened until most were black. I could still hear sounds, though. But I had no ability to decipher any of it. It could be my mom, it could be the dishes. It could even be a giant train running over the house. I wouldn’t be able to feel it, so I can’t say that idea was entirely crazy. But again, I couldn’t think straight. I couldn’t think at all.
Then I blacked out entirely.
When I awoke, which could’ve been days later for all I knew, I was lying in bed. My head pounded wildly. My arm was very sore from the chemical injected into my blood. I opened my eyes and was welcomed by the familiar sight of my bedroom, the window opened a crack. With the little energy I had, I attempted to sit up. Without even clearing a few inches, I immediately fell back into a sleeping position. My body felt weird, like I just ate something dangerous. Mom was right about the high only lasting a few minutes, but I could still feel the effects of the drug. At least the hallucinations stopped. I hated having had to sit in the chair defenselessly while the world I saw twisted into abstract. Whatever was in that needle, I hoped I never came across it again.
I managed to turn my head to the side and read the clock. It was seven in the morning. Unlike the day before, I wasn’t hungry when I woke, thankfully. Now I didn’t have to gulp down entire plates of my mom’s “breakfast”. Though, I didn’t smell anything downstairs. Or hear anything. Was she still sleeping? Considering her behaviour last night, forcing the needle into my arm and acting like it was a normal thing, I was kind of glad.
Finally, I recovered some energy and pushed myself into a criss-cross sitting position and inhaled another breath through my nose. I was surprised she didn’t at least start making breakfast. But then again, whenever she sleeps in, she’ll stay asleep for a long time.
I stood up on the cool wooden planks that hold my room. Without much success, I attempt to walk to my door. But each step felt like I was going to throw up. When I make it to the door, I reach up and slowly twist the knob, pushing it open.
The small hallway felt warmer than my room. The heat stung my arm for a second, before it adjusted. I looked around, still not used to the unnerving photographs Mom picked for the wall. The sad faces stare blankly at me. I wanted to tear down the pictures, every last one. But I doubt that would’ve gone down well with the decorator who put them up. Why did you have to do this, Mom? I almost say the words. Why would you—
Something pitter-pattered behind me, making me jump.
I twirled around, my eyes widened with surprise. But there was nothing there. Just the empty half of the hall and the door to my room. I was about to sigh with relief when I notice that the door was now wide open.
“Mom?” My voice echoed in the small corridor. “Is that you?”
My feet started to shake as I took small, tip-toed steps to my room. Why was I so scared? I guess I just feared that the needle might be pushed into my skin again, making me go crazy and pass out. Despite that, what was she doing in my room? I realized that she was acting so strange because of whatever drug she gave me. So, in her eyes, she might not realize it’s my bedroom.
I stopped to listen. Slowly, I turned my head until my right ear was facing the opened door. But there was just the ambience of the house. Nothing more. Maybe she wasn’t in my room after all.
“Mom?” I called her name once more, relieved at the silence that followed. I walked into the room, still cautious, and look around. The opened window let in a soft breeze, relaxing me. Suddenly, I’m struck with a heavy feeling of exhaustion and longed for the warmth of my bed. I glance outside my room one last time, then turn back to the rest of the room, ready to rest my head. But then I noticed something.
There was already somebody in my bed.