Warmth

I couldn’t feel my body. My arms, my legs, they were stuck to the surface, pulled down by the weight of gravity. I tried to get a feel of my environment through my sense. I felt the cool air brush against my skin, I saw a white light beneath my eyelids. I opened my eyes and the bright white lights momentarily blinded me. I groaned and turned my head to the left. There was a window, and outside, and orange glow began to color the black sky. The sun looked so warm and soft. It was beautiful. There was a sudden shift next to me. I tore my eyes away from the window and turned my head to the right. There was a woman cuddled into the chair. Although I couldn’t see her face, her soft snores gave her away. I went to call for her, but my parched throat didn’t allow it. I grunted and poked her to wake her up, but she only shifted so that I could see her face. Sitting in the chair was my sister, but it wasn’t her at the same time. She had the same dark hair, the same strong nose, the same stubborn chin, but her eyes were surrounded by purple bags, her milk chocolate skin looked yellowish, and her high cheekbones stood out. It looked as if time had already taken their toll on her already. No one was around. Just me, my sleeping sister, and an empty room. There was an air pump whirling, liquid dripping in the distance, and a beeping sound echoing throughout the room. We were in hospital, with me on the bed. How did I end up in here? Did I drink too much and pass out; I tend to do that. Unless I was in a car accident and I was paralyzed from the waist down, that’s why I can’t feel my legs... I saw a nurse outside my door, gathering the medicines for the patient across the hallway. I needed water, I needed food, I needed to know what happened to me. I tried to yell, knock something down, anything to get her attention. A cracking sound filled the air as the pitcher of water fell down from the table onto the ground. The nurse’s head snapped upwards, towards the sound and she ran off, presumably to get the doctor. As the doctor entered the room, my sister shifted into a sitting position. I was seated upright onto the bed and I drank my full. The cold water eased the dry patches along the insides of my mouth and esophagus, and soon I was able to speak. “Alessandra, why are we at the hospital?” “Almada, there was an accident at your house.” “Oh okay, where is Amais?” “Alm,” she said as she held my hand. Her eyes held so much emotion in them it made my heart ache. “He didn’t make it.” ********** They told me I was in a coma for three days due to smoke inhalation. They told there were was some damage to the frontal lobe of my brain. They told me I had nowhere to live; I had to live with a relative for the time being. They told me I needed to go to a therapist, that I had been through a lot of trauma. They told me my son had died; I needed to make arrangements. They told me this and that, but I didn’t want to do this and that. I wanted to sleep in hopes that I will wake up next to my family at home, talking and laughing. I wanted to breathe and relieve the pressure in my chest. I wanted to be in the embrace and the warmth of my son again. I don’t remember when they started to communicate with me. It could’ve been at the reception or the burial; I’m not sure, I was intoxicated. I don’t remember much, except seeing my baby’s face for the last time. He looked as if he was ready to go to church, but his face was different. His caramel skin was flawless and smooth, his big brown eyes were shut and his mouth was closed completely. I don’t think I’ve ever saw him with his mouth closed. It was always opened, while he was eating, reading, sleeping. It was always smudged with food or saliva. And here is it, clean and shut. It will remain shut and never open again to call me ‘mommy.’ I think thinking that made them reach out to me. It was after then I heard their voices for the first time. I was in a closet at the funeral home, surrounded by mops and chemicals, grieving for my lost family. Don’t cry, Mommy. . I looked around to see if they were hidden by the brooms. No one was there. Don’t get upset. I’m here. I saw him sitting at the kitchen table with a cup of orange juice and his school notebook laid out in front of him. He smiled at me, chocolate eyes crinkling, crooked teeth grinning, giving me all the love and warmth I will ever need. ********** I lived at my sister’s house for months and my sister still hadn’t said anything about me leaving, so I never brought it up; I liked it here. I went through the same cycle everyday: wake up, eat, cook, play, clean, sleep. Although people thought I was lonely doing these things in my solitude, it was actually the opposite. I always had my sister and her daughter by my side, and when they were gone, I had my son. He would sit on the back porch and I would sit on the front porch, both overlooking the forest. We would talk and laugh and cry about everything and nothing at the same time, just the way I liked it. I was watching the news one day when I realized I’d left the stove unattended. The boiling water was bubbling out of the pot and getting all over the new glass top stove. The rag in my hand soaked up the surrounding water, but almost all the water in the pot was gone. I grabbed the handle without thinking. The metal burned into my hand and suddenly I wasn’t in my sister’s house anymore; I was in mine. All over the interior of the house had an orange-brown tint to it. From the front door, the flames had consumed everything, the table, the countertop, the stove, everything. Smoke formed billowing clouds in the red sky. I heard a scream from upstairs. My baby. He’s up there. I ran up the stairs, taking two at a time, hoping that the flames won’t beat their way to me and my son. The nursery, the nursery. Where is it? All the rooms look the same now. The once white doors are now orange with the color of fire. “Almais!” I shout. The smoke burns my lungs and throat but I kept shouting. “In here!” My angel’s sweet voice rang through the roar of the flames from down the hall. I tried to run to the door, but my brain wouldn’t allow my legs to move that fast. I tried to dash falling debris falling from the ceiling, but parts of them kept hitting my arms and shoulders. I’m not even halfway there when the attic implodes into the house, blocking my way. I hear more screaming, more crying. I grabbed part of the debris trying to pull it out of my path. The wood was burning the flesh of my hands. The muscles were aching and sore, but I had to keep going. I needed to. More screaming. I wasn’t even halfway done. I quickened my pace, but my hands were bloodied and my brain was screaming for me to stop. But I can’t, I need to get to him. “Ma’am, you need to get out of here!” I jump at the unexpected noise and whirl around. There stands a man in a red hard hat and a yellow body suit, a firefighter. “I can’t! My son is in there!” “We’ll get him out of there! Don’t worry! Jim, get her out of here!” The firefighter to his left led me down the stairs, but then I heard a big boom: the second floor had collapsed into the first floor, leaving a huge gap between the firefighters and my son. There was no one in their right mind who would jump across that. The firefighters were screaming about turning back, about having no hope. I screamed and pushed myself away from the firefighters and closer to my family. The yellow clothed men went to reach out for me, but I pushed my legs forward as fast as I could. I reached at the top of the stairs and I just stood there. All the blood that was urging me forward was now pooled at my feet and in my hands, dripping onto the floor. My lungs could no longer inhale air, they were surrounded by a layer of soot. I could no longer see what was infront of me, the little black spots had joined together to become a black oblivion, but I felt everything. Panic began to consume my chest and fill me completely and I began to scream. I was suddenly at my sister’s house again, lying onto the kitchen floor. I heard a blood-curling scream fill and echo through the house so that it froze my blood. Oh God, my son. I left the pot and the water on the floor, I went in search of help. I heard crying in the distance but I wasn’t really listening, I was frantically running around the house in search of a telephone. Upstairs, downstairs, left, right, there was no phone to be found. I was in the midst of searching when Alessandra walked in the door, groceries in hand. “What’s going on?” “Amais. He’s stuck a fire at the house. I need to get them help!” “Alm, I know this is difficult for you, but he’s gone.” “No he’s not!” I screeched. I needed to explain it to her. “Am is alive! I see him everyday! He’s okay! But now, he’s in a really bad fire and need help! Trust me, I know, I was there!” My sister stared at me with wide brown eyes. She didn’t understand. “He’s alive. But he won't be for long if we don't help him!” “Okay, okay. I’ll get some help, you just sit down on the couch and don’t move.” Her tone left no room for argument. I sat on the edge of the couch as I tried to reach out for them. Don’t worry, Auntie Alex is getting help. Okay... He didn’t have much longer, but I tried to remain calm and focus on something else: the furniture, the clock, the floor, anything. I glance at the clock, only five minutes has passed. Shouldn’t have Alex come back already? I get up and go to the front door, where I hear voices. There, my sister is holding her daughter and is talking to three men in navy blue uniforms. Their stance is tense and my sister is talking, gesticulating while the cops nod their heads in silence. “You got help,” I said. Their heads snapped in my direction. My sister looked at me with wide wide eyes and the cops looked at me with a measured look. “Are you Almada?” one of the cops asked me. “Yes?” “Can you come with us to the hostpital?” “Why? I’m not sick. I was discharged months ago. Alex, tell them.” I looked at my sister but she was already turned away playing with the frames on the end table. “Alex?” “Just go with them Alm.” I felt a pang of betrayal shoot through my chest. “But what about Amias? Are you going to get him help?” “Ma’am, can you please come with us?” They were going to leave him there and let him become dust. I couldn’t lose him. No I wasn’t going to let that happen. “No! I won’t leave until you get my son help!” I don’t remember much what happened after that, but I remember hearing screaming and crying. I remember feeling the tightness of my chest increase to the point where I couldn’t breathe. I remember panic coloring my vision. I remember seeing blood under my nail beds and between the cracks of my knuckles. I remember an excruciating pain up my upperarms. Then I remember not feeling anything at all. ********** That day happened three years ago. I was sent to a psychiatric hospital where they filled me up with medicines until I couldn’t differentiate reality from my nightmares. The meds stopped me from contacting the other side. I called I no longer could hear my son playing with his toy trucks or reciting his numbers from one to a hundred. I called out to them but they would never answer. Those bastards. They made me like this. They made me stop hearing them. I stopped taking my meds about two years ago when I realized it killed the people from the other side. I stopped listening to the doctor’s and the other world’s advice, and I started listening to my own. I want to hear my son’s voice; I need it. I need him to survive. Without them, what’s my purpose? I’d rather die than never to hear my son’s voice again. The doctors told me to take my meds; I told them I’d rather die instead .

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