I woke up last night to the pinging sound metal makes on hard wood. As I began to wake up fully, the pinging continued. Sound repeating over and over. Finally, I turned my head and saw my son Noah standing next to my bed. He was tapping against the side of the end table with the edge of a large knife, like a tuning fork. Somehow he knew I was awake because he turned and looked at me. It was the longest he had looked at me all day, and the only time he had done so voluntarily. He took the knife and pointed at me. My boy...his eyes were absent. He wasn't there at all.
“Noah,” I said firmly.“Put down the knife.”
He didn't respond at first, just stood there, rocking. But finally he spoke, his voice hollow. Without pitch. He looked at me and said “You aren't supposed to be awake. Go back to sleep.” He gently placed the knife down on the end table and left the room, disappearing around the corner as I heard him head back up the stairs. Margaret was awake now and was looking at me. Waiting for me to explain. I told her to stay where she was as I grabbed the knife and headed up the stairs.
When I reached the room where my two kids were staying I stopped and listened at the door. All I could hear was the gentle snore of my daughter. I opened the door as quietly as I could. Bit by bit. When I looked inside Noah was in his bed. He seemed to be sleeping as well...I know Noah sleep walks. But I had been told it had gotten better. As I walked downstairs only one thought kept running through my mind. This was my fault. If they hadn't come to visit he would be okay.
Went to the kitchen and turned on the light. It hurt my eyes. Found the knife block and placed the knife back. I tried not to think too much when I found another two knives placed side by side on the counter. One was long and thin. It was a filet knife. The other was simply smaller than the other ones. And though I tried not to think about it the thought came anyway. My son hadn't simply grabbed a knife in his sleep. He had considered his options, and settled on the one.
Earlier that day my kids arrived to celebrate Christmas. It has been months since I had seen them. I had put “From Margaret and Dad” on all the gifts. It was Margaret's idea. Make sure the kids wouldn't simply avoid the gifts from me. It worked mostly, though some of them my daughter seemed to know were from me and largely ignored.
I understand why. If my kids hated me before...if they weren't still upset that their mom had died and I hadn't stopped it, then the fact the Margaret had been butchered as well doesn't help. They were really good about Margaret's condition though, especially Mandy. She is...very strong. Very protective. I try to ignore it when she looks at me with such hate in her eyes.
I get it. At her age I hadn't experienced nearly as much tragedy as she has. I think she feels like she has to protect Noah. Maybe she feels she has to protect Margaret.
I didn't go back to sleep that night.
I took the knife block and placed it in the cabinet out of Noah's reach. The doctor said that there could be some darker tendencies, but he had assured us that his behavior wasn't dangerous. With the way he was looking at me...I don't know. How the hell am I supposed to feel. My life is so very strange and I don't know what I can do.
I called up my sister and told her what had happened. She seemed to want to cut the conversation short but became more invested when I started telling her about Noah. I asked her if he had ever done anything like that at home and she swore that he hadn't.
I believe her. The shock in her voice was genuine.
The kids went home earlier today. Figured if it was me that was triggering all this. That Noah shouldn't be around it. Noah screamed at me. Said that I didn't want to see him. I tried to find an excuse but I had nothing. Mandy was happy to leave, but I could see in her face that she knew something was wrong. That I wouldn't send them home early unless something had happened. She almost seemed concerned for me. Even hugged me before she left.
I love my kids.
I had to drive to get some groceries. The car got hot fast. It was drizzling outside.
Stuck my hand out the window. Let the water hit my fingers. I felt so foggy. It brought me back a little. Just the difference in temperature from the rain.
When we were crossing the train tracks I saw the same homeless man that I had seen in the rain so many months back. The standing man, swaying back and forth. He was just standing there. His feet were bare. How he could endure the cold ground on his feet I do not know. He just stood there and looked at me, even as I pulled over and called the police. He rocked in place, much like my son had done the night before. Margaret didn't say anything.
Five minutes later the police arrived and ushered him into the back of a patrol car. The man turned and looked at me. His features were worse than before. His eyes yellowed and his skin blotchy and loose. His fingernails were almost two inches long, and his hair wild and knotted. As they pulled away to leave he did not wave like he did before.
The drizzle turned into rain. Some of the snow went away. Margaret has been good about taking her immunosuppressants. Skin grafts have been keeping.