This story is by Beverly Brown and was part of our 2018 Summer Writing Contest. You can find all the writing contest stories here.
“I remember the first time I died…”
“I was coming out of the bathroom when I reached down to zip my pants, as any young man should. When I noticed my mother standing at the head of the staircase staring, as only a mother could…
“I was stunned”
“Then I felt someone lean on my shoulder, from behind me, and asked,
“’is that your Mom?’”
“She Then, closed the door behind us, moved around me and with her hand extended; as if to introduce herself…
“I died, crumpled and went face toward the floor.”
“I don’t remember anything … well, not much anyway.. after that. I do recall the sensation of being carried by the collar at the scruff of my neck as well as the young lady who didn’t get to finish her introduction. My Mom had moved so fast it must have stunned my Junior High brain.”
“As she grabbed both of us by the collar at the scruff of our necks, for we both wore uniforms with shirt and tie for school, she carried us both, I don’t know where she got the strength, for she was only five feet tall or so, as I recall, and almost carried us down the staircase, our feet barely touching the stairs.”
“When I came to.. I should say to attention, I was standing facing my father and Jan, that was her name. I think, then she was being placed outside the front door by my said Mother, before she dropped her on the porch, well .. set her down on her two feet and turned toward me.”
“That was the second time I fainted… dead away, on the foyer floor, at my father’s feet.”
“Now, I don’t know for sure if the collapse was from natural causes that time, or that I’d hoped my heart had stopped beating or something more serious, in order to draw more sympathetic attention, than the situation before me. My heart did actually seem to have lept into my throat and I started choking on it. Pounding for all it was worth. Till I couldn’t hear a thing my father was saying or… perhaps it was a defensive Mechanism, a word my father would use, because I just couldn’t face what I knew must be coming next,”
“The dreaded two hour lecture and a prompt march of disgrace to my bedroom. My parents were not the “spankers” but many a day I could only wish they were. Why? you may ask, because those two-hour lectures were “brutal”.
“No, when I finally allowed myself to, “come to” or shall I say, return to reality, I was in my bed and the doctor or , I could only wish, truthfully, I would say, a woman who looked and acted like a doctor, with all the checking of pause and snapping of fingers in front of my face. I was being asked that question.” “What is your name?”. I presumed she was attempting to bring me “around”. My name is Carter… Jonah Carter,” I haltingly said.
“I found too, that I was crying my eyes out for all I was worth.”
“To my relief, I really had fainted. I could see my father’s troubled expression on his face. Yet, he still had his hands on his hips, staring down at me as I awoke. That’s when that expression turned to something more of a suspicious eye, squinting. His lips were pulled up on one side, and he was holding his glasses in order to better take in my condition”.
“Poor Mom, I was almost happy to see, was looking terrified with a hand over her mouth, stifling sobs…”
“Well, that turned my attitude to one of shame, not for anything I had done, that was shameful enough, but because I remembered her words just before I passed out.”
“’I am so ashamed of you, Jonah. So ashamed.’” I knew then that, that was why I was crying so hard.
“If she had “spanked” me, even put me out of the house along with my partner in crime, it wouldn’t have reached me, I don’t think, as deeply as those few words… This was when the “faint away, second death,” was real.”
“Now, I had to have time to think. I slowly closed my eyes a time or two, I could hear the “doctor” who turned out to be the nurse from across the street, I had gotten a better look at her, said.”
“’Let him rest…’”
“He probably is … tired, my Dad offered, looking over and giving me the slightest half of a wink, I think…” “for I was so glad to hear him say,”
“We can let him rest for tonight.. We can talk tomorrow.”
“Mom, just wept silently.”
“Was it because she was sorry for me… or was it that dreaded new word.. “ashamed.” Of me. “
“I sat up in bed at the crack of dawn, for I hadn’t slept much that night, if at all. I went over and over again, how I should apologize for my…”mistake” or should I say, My slip up.. no maybe just come out and say I’m… No, I can’t admit that. I’ve never admitted or even, felt that until now. She really expected me to do better. And why that sly wink from my Dad. Had he pulled stunts like that when he was a kid? The death scenes and all that. Wait, even the stunt I pulled off after coming home early due to a short day my parents forgot about?”
“He knows Mom isn’t going to let go of this. He must have seen I really was ashamed and that was why I was so hurt. Mom is disappointed in me. I had to get up and go wash my face, for sitting there on the bed, I started crying again. No, I’ve got to regain her trust.. I didn’t know she had in me. I’ve always gotten into stuff, died off for a spell and come back… this was different this time.”
“I am so close to graduation. Yes, I going into High School. Maybe she’s thinking, I’m getting worse and the shame will keep rolling in as I meet the older guys who just might lead me into worse things if … they see… my I don’t care attitude,”
“Just then, a knock came on my door, Judgement day is here, Ohhh.
“I saw my Mom, standing in the door way, With terror rising up my cheeks, just looking at me with that sad face; I’m so used to taking advantage of.. should I pull one of my acts out of the bag?, bring her to her knees begging me to forgive her sooo harsh treatment the day before?,”
No, I’m a high schooler now, I thought, “Mom”, I said, … I can do this.. just do it, I thought… this is real, “I am sorry, I said, I … I don’t want you to be ashamed of me… anymore.”
“She came over and held me… in her arms. Momentarily, then, Holding me back by the shoulders she said, with still a sad but compassionate look on her face.”
‘”You are growing up, Jonah. You know there are consequences for your actions and that you stil have to face discipline for what happen, especially since it involved someone else..”’
Oh, maybe she thinks… “No, mom.. we used protec..”
“She stopped me short with a squeeze, a gentle squeeze of my shoulders.”
“’Her parents are here.’” She said, with a grave look. ‘”They want to speak with you, too. Not only the lectures are coming from us, which I think you understand why, now. But in order for this to all be settled, you must prepare to listen to them, seeing their side of the situation, and be prepared to show them what you just showed me. How you really feel, and nothing else. Can you manage to do that?”
“I nodded slowly. I had to do this. No fainting away, no dying out before seeing it through. I look up at her, right in the eyes. I needed her not to be ashamed of me. She mouthed, I Love you. I believe in you, now… She said out loud.”
“’You ready?”’ I nodded with more confidence.
“’I need you to say it out loud,’” she said.
“Yes, mam.. I’m ready. I wasn’t quite ready… but that’s when I said my first honest recital of the Lord’s prayer in my mind.. looking for all the help I could get, having been taught all this since, well, all of what life I have lived..”