Choking On Tears
By Ciara Hickey
Somedays you wake up and you see things that have been staring you in the face for the last few years. One day as I prayed to the virgin Mary I realised she had a pair of tits, Jesus had a dick and everybody, I mean everybody was just a combination of hormones, bones, blood, flesh and organs. Somehow I never applied this to my parents, it was only today that I realised that my parents were people, people with tears, people who...sometimes failed.
I always imagined the sound of tension as an ear gritting sound, like fingernails being dragged down a blackboard but at this moment there was nothing but silence. Nobody spoke, we stood paralysed, trying to come to terms with the fact that my father had left his job seven weeks ago and hadn't told us.
- You know I never wanted this life but I stuck it out. I sat through our marriage, cooked your dinners, raised the children. I was unemployed and left here, I did that unwillingly but I did it. Why...why could you not have done the same?
My mother's voice disappered.Tears rolled down my father's face, my mother looked wasted and detatched, I ran. Regret, anger and panic. I fled, banging the door hoping all would disappear and all would be as it were. I wanted to be away from it all. The cold air hit me hard in the face, nipping my ears as echoes of the questions and shouting crammed my head until I was hot and clammy. Gasping for breath, choking on tears, I kept running. I felt sick, I was going to vomit, my stomach, squeezed into a compact ball of horror and pain. I pressed my fingertips together so I could concentrate on that pain, compressing them together until the tips had turned white and looked dead. Self inflicted pain, I was in control but my stomach still turned. I headed for the direction of the beach.
Everything swirling around me, all that been static before had discarded its roots and blew away. The past was now a whirlpool of clear cut memories massacred together into a cluster of deformed images - my life. I could still hear the echo of my mom screaming, it was not a controlled scream but a shrill of insanity. A sound that reflected the last twenty years of an unwanted life. It seemed that everything I ever cherished was heading to a distant horizon and everything else seemed to close in, threatning me, mocking and ridiculing me. I had no one to go to - I was alone.
The beach was empty apart from small trouble free families, which looked sickly bloated after eating a big meal. They were so content and comfortable, caught up in their unified rapture. I sat down on the wet sand. I wanted to scream - fuck the lot of you - to everyone. A few feet away a child played. It picked up up a fistful of sand and let it trickle through but it was wet and stuck to its palm. It became frustrated and its face contorted and an unbecoming shade of red rose upward. The grimace widened and the kid slapped the sand. I laughed quietly at its stupidity. the mother called, the child didn't budge, I wanted them to go away. I imagined a pit of quicksand and the child vanishing slowly, grabbing the sand, crying for help. I wondered would I help. I lit a cigerette and enjoyed the picture of a minature hand descending into the unknown, almost waving goodbye to the world.
A pit of quicksand didn't appear so I was left listening to an overprotective mother continually calling the child's name, over and over again, a never ending drone of one syllable `Anne'. I wanted to throw the kid into the car and tell the mother to shut the fuck up - I didn't. Instead I sat smoking a blissful cigarette in the lotus position, half huddling my jacket. I felt someone tug my hair and guessed it was Anne. The only word I could think of at this moment was shite, the next few minutes of coo coo talk did not appeal. I wanted her to disappear. I wanted to grab her by the scruff of the neck, push her away, her and her stupidity, her small twisted elf like body, a body she couldn't even control, I wanted her to leave me alone. I didn't do any of this.
I forced myself to grin and I left it plastered on my face. It was especialy when Anne had snot on her faec and her hand in my ear. I wish I wore my hat.
She spluttered and pointed at my cigarette.
- This is a cigarette it kills you. It is perhaps the slowest and most expensive way to commit suicide but it is very enjoyable.
She looked confused so I didn't press
We waited for a valid reason to appear but our view was obstructed and nobody could see any reason. Questions began to float, wander and settle in corners. Nobody spoke until my dad tried to offer us an explanation.
- I had to leave, I couldn't stick it anymore, it wasn't what I wanted. It didn't seem right
His face became distorted and he winced at what he had caused. Face down he gasped expecting the truth to tumble out but all we heard was an utter of humanity.
- I'm sorry, I didn't plan it to happen like this, it's just the weeks dragged on and it seemed easier to...I don't know.
- It seemed easier to what? To go on and pretend that nothing has changed. How long do you think that would have lasted for? How could you? How could you fuckin' do that?
It was all just questions she was screaming and shouting these questions. Things started to get louder and louder. My smaller brother ran and turned on the television to get lost in a more attractive world where superman can solve any problem. The concrete and certain voices of the television became amalgamated with the confusion of reality. Spit formed at the edges of my mother's mouth as she shouted. Fists banged on tables. Arms waved and people scratched their heads. Doing this either to try and make things clear or to scratch the problem away but guess what, no matter how much people lost control, screamed, accused, apologised and explained we were all contained in the mass turbulence of emotion in the kitchen.
- You don't know anything Howard. You don't know how I sat envious of you going to work for the last ten years. You don't know how much I sacrificed for you so you could get what you wanted..that fucking dream of being a top engineer...you gave it away...I thought you were still striving towards something, I was jealous because you had something to work for and me, stuck in a tiny world of...
- I'm sorry, I'm so sorry
A layer of sadness, confusion and guilt welled up and clung to his eyes, refusing to let go and start their descent down his face that seemed to have changed, lost something. There was something disturbing in watching my father lose all pride and strength and succumb to tears. There was something troublesome with watching my mother lose control. She was possessed with smothered anger which seemed to have been re-ignited and was inextinguishable.
I wanted to run but I stayed, my father stood helpless, his hand half out stretched, not really wanting her to touch it or hold her, not strong but emasculated. My mother glanced up and by him, he was no longer the man she knew.
- Seven weeks, seven fucking weeks, what have you done? Did you sit in your car all day, waiting for work to be finished? You bastard.
She slammed her mug of coffee down and it splashed on the table and on her sleeve. She went in to get a tea towel screaming incomprehensibly. I looked at my brother Sean who stared blankly at the television screen. I noticed that the fly catcher had only a few flies stuck on it. It musn't be working or there musn't be many. I couldn't hear any.
- You know I never wanted this life but I stuck it out. I sat through our marriage, cooked your dinners, raised the children. I was unemployed and left here, I did that unwillingly but I did it. Why ...why could you not have done the same?
Tears rolled down my father's face, my mother looked wasted and detatched, I ran. Regret, anger and panic. I fled, banging the door hoping all would disappear and all would be as it were. I wanted to be away from it all. The cold air hit me hard in the face, nipping my ears as echoes of the questions and shouting crammed my head until I was hot and clammy. Gasping for breath, choking on tears, I kept running.