“I didn't like the sound. That noise my mom made when she would try to breathe. It was like a moan, like the sound someone makes when they were having a bad dream. But she was awake. She looked so tired. My dad was just sitting there in the chair next to her. His eyes were burning like coals. She was crying as she breathed, her body shaking with each inhale, her knuckles white as she gripped the side of the bed. My dad didn't say anything, but he looked really upset. I think he was crying...He stood up and turned off the light that was next to my mom. The room got dark, but I could see my dad leave down the hall.
It was really dark, but I could see my mom because the light of the streetlamps out the window. She kept shaking, her breathing becoming worse. It was grating, and didn't really keep any pattern. I walked over to her, but stopped when I was a few feet away. She looked down at me, and I could see that she was mouthing something too me. I couldn't make it out, and I asked her to speak up. Instead, she reached out her hand to me. I took it, but I didn't like it. It was cold and damp with sweat.
I heard my dad come back into the room. He had a pillow and a rope. I looked back to my mom, but she had coals where her eyes should be. I asked her to close them, that she was scaring me. She wouldn't, just kept staring at me. I tried to shut them myself, but my dad grabbed me. He told me to sit by the wall and not move at all. There was ribbon on the floor. My birthday was earlier that week. We hadn't cleaned it up.
I remember an old family tradition we used to have around Christmas. We would open our presents, listening to an old record my dad had of holiday music. But at a certain point, soon after we had opened our gifts, my dad would excuse himself. He would return after a few seconds, bearing a gift for Mom. There would be a red bow on the box, and after she finished opening it he would place it on top of her head. She would smile then, and they would kiss. Looking back I don't think the present mattered. But I knew I missed her smile.
Dad was saying something to my mom. She didn't seem to be listening. She just looked at me, not blinking. Dad leaned over her and kissed her on the cheek. Then he took the pillow and he placed it over her face...She was thrashing around, and I could hear her making an awful noise. Even under the pillow I could hear her wheezing. I felt like I couldn't breathe too. It felt like there was a knot in my throat. I told my dad to stop, but he wouldn't listen. I wanted to move, but I...I was scared...
It felt like a long time. She stopped fighting She was just gripping the sheets, her hands moving up and down the white linin. Then that stopped too, and she became really quiet...my dad removed the pillow. My mom was the color of ashes. He was crying, hunched over her. Then he turned around and looked at me, the embers in his eyes bright against the dark.
He walked over too me, grimacing as he walked, the pillow hanging loose in his hands. He was trembling. I could feel that when he hugged me. I told I wanted to go to mom, but he said I shouldn't move. He said he loved me, and that no one loved me like my mom. He got really quiet then. Then he told me to lay down.
I did what he said, but I asked him to close his eyes. He just looked at me...and he placed the pillow on my face. It smelled like mom. It smelt like anticeptic. At first I thought he was going to stop. But it started getting hard to breathe. I started screaming at him. I couldn't get any air. But he wouldn't move it. He wouldn't let me get up. I could only think of one thing to do. I stopped moving, acting like Mom did.
I wanted to breathe so bad. The one above me...it looked like him...
I started to feel like I was blacking out,when I felt the pillow rise off my face. I wanted to breath in, but I didn't. I acted like Mom. I just stared off to the side. I heard him stand up, and watched as he walked over to the closet. He laid out some plastic on the floor and tied the rope around the place where the coats go...He walked inside and place the rope around his neck, pulling against it. Then he let his feet be loose on the plastic. The rope was holding him up...
Panic filled me. I didn't know what to do, but I knew that more than anything I had to move. So I waited for ten seconds...He started to ball his fists, and I could see him grimacing. He was shaking, shaking like mommy did. So I waited, because I didn't want him to know. So I waited longer. After a while he became still. He didn't shake, and his feet stopped going back and forth across the plastic.
I took a deep breath in, and I felt the air hit my lungs. It hurt. I stood up, and walked over to mom. She wasn't moving either...It wasn't her...I went to go to the phone, to call for help, but I heard a noise from the closet. It was the one that looked liked my dad. He was staring at me.
He started thrashing around, his feet sliding relentlessly against the plastic. I wondered why he didn't just stand up. I wondered why...he didn't stand up...He stopped moving, and his hands and feet became loose. He didn't move again, but he didn't close his eyes. His skin looked like ash...
My therapist took me back to the asylum today. He brought me to a room we hadn't gone into before. When I entered I became very sad, but it felt familiar. It was the smell of the room that made me remember. It was different from any other room. It was above the boiler, so the floor was warmer. It gave off a aroma. Then all at once the memory came to me. All of it. I felt like my heart would explode out of my chest, and I had a really hard time breathing.
My therapist gave me something for the worst of it, and I explained to him what I had remembered...He became really quiet, and I could see that he was thinking. He looked back to me, and he said that it was time for me to know how it all connected...He said that he knew me before I moved here, that he had pressed me to talk with him because he was aware of my history. Because he had treated me before.
I had been in this institution for a number of months after my parents deaths. My other family had signed the order. As the months went by it became increasingly clear that I was stabilizing, but for all the wrong reasons. I wasn't feeling the pain. I was forgetting it. And though I remembered clearly my parents in the hospital, I couldn't bring myself to remember anything else.
I asked him to have us leave the asylum, and I decided to head home. He told me that if I needed to talk to call him. After that I just walked. I called Lucia...we agreed to meet at the local church tomorrow. I am beyond being upset. It has all been way, way too much for me. I thought that maybe I could sleep now, but I was woken a few hours later. The neighbors had called the police. They had heard screaming.