Problems come from bad habits.
|I heard the tap water filling up my cup. I just watched it overflow.
The water tasted bitter, it overturned my bile; I vomited. I stopped and turned around. All I heard was silent and darkness. My pupils wandered and searched around the silhouette of the furniture for familiarity. But now they looked distanced with socks, pants and magazine piling around. Another taste brought my attention to the cup. This water no longer tastes sweet and boiled; it tasted like tap water and un-boiled.
I vomited once more on the dishes lying in the sink. This emptiness disguised me. Do I not have feelings? Am I a robot as said by others? I have just lost something important, why am I not crying?
Still, nothing came to me.
The flies over the food buzzed beside my ears and I brushed them away. She should stop bringing food up. I had no appetite at all and would not eat. I had my hand on the fly swatter than left it again. There was no need to clean this place. Not anymore after the mistress of this house was gone. I threw up again, this time with a burning sensation in my crunched stomach. Three days without food. Mother, I am coming to reunite with you...
Buzz… the phone vibrated beside me. Every day she would come and clean the house but with efforts dismantled by me. One day, she would come to hate me. She was too good for me, but too bad, could not replace mother. This place should look exactly how it is – without mother around. It should never be clean, never be tidy and never be warm and cozy. And there shouldn’t be food cooked for me.
“Hey babe, hope you have eaten last night’s porridge. I’m bringing you another bowl tonight. Love, Stephanie.”
Swayed by mood, I threw my phone at the wall. There’s no use, she would never replace mom’s care. I did not eat and I would not eat food not cooked by mother. I tripped on weak legs over the high stacks of examination papers. An electrifying shock chocked my neck on the account of tripping, a dumb practiced habit of piling them beside my coffee table. Hopefully Stephanie would break up with me when she sees me in this condition but sadly high chance that won’t happen.
Stepping over my favourite papers, I left my heart behind while I crawled into my childhood memory. The bedroom was where I belonged to. It contained all the happiness between me and mum. Mum reading bedtime stories for me; mum playing pirates with me; mum keeping my nightmares away; everything paused at that moment I decided to have my own room, to start my own world as a teenager. I should have spent more time with her. She was my mother and also my father.
And here came my girlfriend about to save this pathetic man from drowning in his fantasized past. The voodoo keychain knocked lightly on the door as her key twisted its way in. Minutes later she would stomp in and begin her long-winded lecture – a symbol of love between us. I shoveled into mother’s blanket and waited for her kiss with the gastric juice burning in me. Still not eating…
“Professor William Luther.”
Immediately I turned to face the intruder when the lights flipped on. My eyes searched for familiarity over the feathers in a little distance but right in front of me. “H-how did you get here?” I stammered, dumbfounded in my singlet and boxers. This was no Stephanie but a short boy with messy black hair. His grey eyes showed signs of the-matter-a-fact aura.
“Well, Professor’s address is always recorded in the office reception.”
“No! I mean, how did you get into my house?” I rephrased. Rushing through possibilities, I gained a glimpse at a silvery object in his hidden hand. Justin Alex, the top scholar in the year, in my class, was standing in my territory out of nowhere.
“Gee, professor, I didn’t think that I’ll hit another bull’s eye this sem. Thanks for the very useful short notes.” In his hand was the examination paper I just stepped on. “I knew that professor has not been eating, so I thought of feeding you myself. Ms Pepper hasn’t been much useful to you judging by this mess,” our gaze scanned about the house together, “But I know it was not her fault. You re-created it every time after she tidied them.” A satisfied smile grimaced over his face like a naughty child finally caught being mischief. He checked his watch, “Right now should be your dinner time, after that you would shower, and then it would be reading time before sleepy time – according to the schedule before your mother passed away.”
He looked up. “Sorry?”
Stephanie should be here any second; she could save me from this lunatic if the police arrive too late. My hand kept fumbling for my phone beneath the blanket only to realize that it was not here. Justin placed his hand into his pocket and drew out a silvery grey item. “Get out of my house! OUT!” I yelled when his hand was still inside this pocket. I swore that it was something dangerous. I tried to reach out for any hard object, with a forgotten sense of weak legs and beer bottles on the floor. He drew near, erased the distance between the two of us while I watched his grey wolf eyes scanning my legs; his hand no longer at his pocket. One swift move and a sting, he put on a plaster at my left toe. I didn’t realize that a broken bottle had cut me.
“I brought us porridge because as I said, it’s your dinner time. I will make sure that you eat,” Justin sounded happy which I feared.
Separated by a kitchen counter between two, two males had their dinner face to face. I was not eating but eyeing at his pocket where the silver item lies. Across me, Justin fed himself spoonful and spoonful of slimy white paste while I touched none. “Eat,” he insisted and stuffed a spoonful of paste into my mouth before I could react. On reflex, I vomited – gastritis problem. He overlapped his hands and looked at me. Down there, his bowl was already empty. My heart racing with every millisecond passed. The pain in the abdomen was forgotten.
Finally my savior has arrived. Dear Stephanie’s voodoo keychain knocked lightly on the door as the doorknob twisted. “Steph…” my mouth gagged by Justin’s lips as he poured the chewed porridge into my throat. “That was NOT FUNNY,” I choked and coughed spitting words which make the most sense. As I turned, the door was already opened with nobody there and Stephanie’s keychain waving at me at the lock. “Stephanie!” A strong grip hauled me back from chasing my girl and threw me into me seat.
“Eat,” he insisted and was already pouring chewed food into my throat.
His strength was beyond my capabilities.
I managed to let a gasp and breathe in air before yelling again, “Stop this INSTANT!”
Blushing but still not aware of his guilt, Justin claimed, “Flying demons semi-digested the food before feeding their children to aid weak digestive system. You taught us this. Stop looking at the door. It doesn’t matter if Stephanie leaves you; she does not deserve you.”
I glared at him at the mention of MY GIRLFRIEND’s name. I had never told anyone in the university about my girlfriend, definitely never to this lunatic. “What?” he asked, sensing my rage in the wrong cue, “I know she’s good in bed but trust me, Professor Luther, you deserve a girl of better quality.”
For the first time in my life, I threw my fist at someone. Immediately, Justin drew out the item in his pocket. A copy of my house key. Nothing else, just that. Justin placed the sharp end of it onto my shoulder and watched instinctively like a lion observing his prey. It was a seed wrongly sowed and now it was going to bloom but in a twisted way.
“I love you Professor William Luther. Last year thanks to your special care, I managed to maintain as the top scholar throughout your course! Can you imagine the load of stress undergoing in a university student’s life? All those assignments and lectures were smothering what more examinations. The first time I scored was due to luck. I managed to steal a softcopy of your examination papers and memorized everything. But after that, it was plainly due to your love and care. All these while, you’ve given me not only extra notes and lectures but high scores and scholarship. I am more worthy for you, not that Steph whose hair smelled like dishwasher.” I felt the pressure tip on the neck and my life. With his strength, it could puncture my flesh.
My time was rewound on that spot like a negative filmstrip. Favouritism had been my weakness since a child. Nothing I like managed to pass my attention to sow its talents to grow and bloom. That was my motive. Just that. I. Am. Not. GAY!
“Please accept my love, professor. I’ll treat you better than Stephanie. I understand your grief for your mother. I do because I lost my father when I was young too.” At those words, I felt my heart tightened followed by a squeeze in the nose. Finally I cried for mum but ironically it was when I was really about to meet mother. I don’t want to die yet.
“Stop!” he turned and met gaze with four police stationed at the threshold. “Put down your weapon slowly and put your hands behind your head! Stop moving!”
The next day I knew, I was consulted by my personal doctor to be nurtured back to health. And one week later I was capable to attend lectures again.
Justin Alex’s seat was empty while his news spread world-wide in headlines; not so fun for me in that photo. The whole university progressed as though Alex’s profile never existed in the university. A few students close with him did ask me about him, but they just asked and did nothing else to me. Besides the abnormally peaceful life in the university, I bought myself a new phone, kept the house clean and moved on with life. My spirit to live was high. I scored whatever I did with my best effort, something sloths wouldn’t do.
Neither Stephanie come back to look for me after that, nor did I. Perhaps that was to avoid any embarrassing moments but that was it. I missed her sometimes when I saw voodoo dolls in shops, her favourite item, and was reminded of our past dates. I bet mother was glad that I lived on.
Oh, and I managed to find myself a new favourite student.