“I hate you! All of you!”
He said the words as he stormed out of the house into the small garden, heading almost thoughtlessly to the shed that sat in the farthest corner away from the house. It has become a frequent scene by now and they have gotten used to it: when he gets angry at his family he gets angry at the world, and that small tool shed becomes his prison of choice where he can let his anger simmer silently until it boils up and overflows, and he could find it in his little victimized heart to forgive them for whatever they did to him, which he usually chooses to forget, if he gets hungry or lonely enough.
“Come out of there, don’t be such a baby!” His sister’s voice came from outside.
“Go away!” He yelled.
“Okay!” She saved her breath.
He sat there for a couple more minutes before he heard the familiar knocking on the door.
“This is getting old, you know” His mother’s voice seeped through the cracks in the wood. “What do you sit doing there for hours? We get it, you’re angry! Come out and let’s talk”
“No!” He fired back. “I’m not coming out of here, ever!”
“Oh, really? I assume you intend to be raised by cockroaches then, Tarzan style!”
He cringed at the thought of the six-legged little monsters, but he manned up and yelled again as if she was at the other end of the yard.
“Yes! At least they will love me!”
“And we don’t?”
“No, you don’t. Nobody loves me!”
“Well, I kind of like you, you’re a cool kid” She replied as he heard her sitting down and leaning against the wooden door.
He said nothing.
“Of course we love you, silly!” She said after a beat. “You’re family, we have no choice. I may not like you at this very moment, making me squat under the sun in this weather begging for you to come out, in fact I might even have had thoughts of wringing your neck, but you know I would never do it, because I am your mother, and I love you, it’s in my DNA to love you, so just come out and take some advantage of that already”
“Okay” She said as she let out a long breath. “How do you want me to prove it?”
“I don’t know, ask this DNA of yours!”
He heard her shift her position, he heard the old door creak as she rested her back on it.
“Okay, let’s see…” She said slowly as if she was preparing a speech. “You know how I told you I wouldn’t buy you that bicycle because it was too expensive? I will talk your father into buying it. I’ll also let you stay up late playing video games tonight, just tonight! And I’ll let you skip school tomorrow. How does that sound”
He said nothing, he didn’t sound so pleased.
“Okay…” She said again, as if she was gasping for breath, and then she started again, words flowing out of her mouth as if she was reading off a paper…
“Tomorrow morning, I will wake you up early, and then you will try to go back to sleep, but I’ll tell you that I made you your favorite breakfast, fried eggs with cheddar cheese, and you will still want to go back to sleep but I will keep tickling you until you get up. We will laugh until I’ll tell you to hush and listen to the sound of birds outside, then we’ll go brush our teeth together because I know you wouldn’t brush them properly unless I watched you. After that we’ll have breakfast, you know which dishes we will use? Those ones I keep in the guest room and we never use because I always say they are for guests…”
“And we never have guests”
“Yes” she chuckled. “We never have guests! Then you will tell me about that funny friend of yours at school and I will pretend to be amused although I don’t get half of his antics. After that we will watch a movie together, I’ll want to watch Beauty and The Beast but you will insist on watching Cars for the tenth time. Then I will try to get you to do your homework but you will want to read a story instead, so we read a story and then it’s lunch time, I’ll take you out for lunch, just the two of us, and we will have your favorite burgers and you will spill ketchup all over your shirt, which will make you feel bad for being like babies so I will squeeze my sandwich willingly that ketchup will drip out of it all over my shirt, just to show you that it’s okay. Then we will have a walk in the park, we will sit on the grass and try to make shapes out of clouds. You will tell me that a cloud looks like a shark, and I will agree enthusiastically although it looks to me like a half-eaten apple. We will look at people around and try to imagine what their stories might be, and when we get bored we’ll just head home where your father and sister will ask us where we’ve been and we won’t tell them, it will be our little totally uncalled-for secret. Then we’ll do your homework together and you’ll tell me how much you like that math teacher and I’ll feel so jealous but I’ll be happy knowing that you’re in good hands at school. Then I’ll tell you to go put on your Pajamas, and you will complain but I will tell you that I’ll make you a Nutella sandwich for dinner and before I know it you will be in your PJs nagging me in the kitchen. After we brush our teeth together you will ask me to read you a story, the same story I read you every night and you never get bored of, then you’ll ask me to tell you some of my childhood stories, and you will laugh until you fall asleep while I ramble on and on before I realize you stopped listening half a century ago, that’s when I’ll kiss you goodnight and pull the blanket up to your chest, which I’ll do three or four times during the night as I’ll keep waking up to find that you pushed the blanket to the floor, and I’ll just let out an impatient groan and then kiss you again on the forehead, while you sleep dreaming of God knows what mystical creatures that live only inside your head”
She paused, “How does that sound?” She asked.
“Not bad, I suppose” He tried to sound less pleased than he really was.
“Okay, great” She said as he heard her get up. “Now get out of this box and come home. I’ll make you a cake”
He heard her footsteps fade away, when he couldn’t hear them anymore he opened the shed’s door slightly and looked around. It was clear, he got up and ran inside, passing by the living room where his father and sister were.
“I think it’s about time I removed that shed” His father said gravely.
“Leave it, apparently it’s helping him cope. You know that isn’t easy on him”
The father sighed and went back to watching his TV show, but he noticed something missing. He looked around and then realized the boy must have taken it. He walked to his room, knocked on the door, and when there was no answer he opened it quietly. His son was lying asleep on the bed with his back to the door. As he approached him he could see that he was holding the picture between his arms, he lifted it up slowly from his grip as not to wake him up and put it on the nightstand beside him.
“She must be here to greet him with her familiar warm smile every morning as she used to” He thought to himself as he looked at the picture of his late wife with the black ribbon cross the upper left corner of the photo, then pulled the blanket over his son ,and left the room.