It's amazing how much a boy's life can change in 24 hours.
| Simon ruffled his hair in the filth-spotted mirror and frowned at his reflection. He really hated seeing himself. He could actually identify a flaw about every inch of his shameful body. His hair, always in his eyes, black and shaggy. Thanks to that he was called names like 'emo' and 'goth' at school. And the blackness of it always gave his hair a greasy look. His arms were long and lanky. This made finding a well-fitted shirt an extreme difficulty. Either the sleeves were too short or they were just right, but were to big for his twig-like arms. His facial features were probably what he disliked most about himself. He was as pale as the moon and his eyebrows were too big for his face. His nose was skinny and pointed like a bird's beak and his eyes a gritty brown, brown like the soil in the ground. His ears were slightly pointed at the ends and his neck gave him the look of an underfed giraffe. The rest of his body lacked in any fat, or muscle at that. People always called him "skin and bones" and told him that he should get some meat on his bones. Don't they know that he has tried? He was often looked at as an anorexic freak and was looked over by every girl at his school for the boys that bulged in muscle.
Come to think of it, school was probably the place where he started to notice all his imperfections. He would much rather stay back and help his mother out. But, knowing her, she would just smile and give him a hug, telling him it was only for a little bit and that she would be fine. Besides, even if he did stay home, he would have to watch his mother shuffle through the ever-growing mountain of bills on the kitchen table. He would watch the tears of helplessness roll down her face and leave ugly grey splotches on the papers below. He would have to listen to her voice, desperately trying to hold back her desperation, telling him that it was no big deal, that she was perfectly fine. Truth is, nothing was fine. Never for a moment was everything perfectly fine. Perhaps it was fine, when he was young and oblivious to what was actually happening. Oblivious to his father's gambling habits and his abusive nature towards his mother, both physically and verbally. Oblivious to the screaming fights that went on between the two of them. Oblivious to the fact that the day that his mother and him went for a car ride, they were never coming back home. Oblivious that he would never see his father again. But the oblivion did not stay forever and the truth came crashing.
Now things were different. Now he was much older and he could understand a lot, regrettably. Now he could see his mothers tears. Now he could see the purpose to his life. The purpose was to grow older and get married and make enough money to support his mother. Maybe in the future he will be happy, and that would make his mother happy as well. Maybe if he could raise money for her, she would no longer have to struggle. He turned from the mirror with tears in the corners of his eyes. He kept getting himself worked up in his thoughts. He couldn't take it anymore. Not like it's a change from everyday. Everyday he would feel empty and dead. Yet every morning, his mother never failed to bring him cereal, orange juice, and a smile. It was almost a relief to know that someone cared about him. A relief that someone would do anything for him, simply out of love. He combed his hair and put on a dark, slightly baggie hoodie and torn blue jeans. He slid on the same canvas shoes that he had had for four years, a birthday present for his twelfth birthday. He wiped his face quickly to cover up any evidence of his tears and left his room into the kitchen.
His mother was no where to be seen. She was usually at the table, her hair in a mess, bags under her eyes, and pens and crumpled bits of paper strewn about. "Mom?" Simon called out. No answer. He reassured him that she had just went to bed and head to her room. Her torn mattress was empty except for a frayed comforter and a yellowing pillow. Now this was getting serious. There was really no where else to go in their small two-bedroom apartment. He walked back out to the kitchen. "Mom?" he yelled louder, trying desperately to hold back the fear in his voice. Silence. He listened hard for any kind of response and heard a faint talking coming from the living room. He walked there silently, careful not to disturb anything going on in the room. For all he knew, someone could be talking to her and he did not want to intrude. Slowly, he peeked into the room and fell to his knees at the sight. It was a sight he had only seen in the worst of his nightmares. His nightmares had come to life. His mother laid on her back on their tattered green couch with one arm extended off the couch. In that hand, was a small, white bottle. The bottle was empty. Her eyes were staring straight at the ceiling and were glazed over and her chest showed no signs movement. Simon crawled over to his mother and picked up her head in his hands. The coldness of her skin caused him to collapse to the ground in silent, fitful sobs. She was his life raft, but now his life raft was popped. He sat up slowly and took the phone off the table. He dialed 911 and hoped desperately that they would come and fix her. They said that they would be there as soon as possible and between heavy sobs, thanked them. He put the phone down and looked up at his mother. He whimpered and crawled up onto the couch and wrapped her frigid arms around him, just as she used to when he had nightmares in his childhood. His wails slowly subsided and he fell into a deep sleep.
He had many dreams in that span of twenty minutes. He dreamt of his mother's soft touch and caring gaze.He dreamt of the memories they had together and the jokes they shared. It was a bitter joke. A bitter, bitter joke. It was almost as if life was laughing in his face. He was shook awake by a warm hand and a warm smile. A man in a blue uniform and a star-shaped badge helped him up and was guided out of his apartment. He was still a little hazy from his nap but reality came crashing onto him like a twenty-foot wave. The man held him by the shoulders and talked to him, reassuring him that everything was going to be okay. Simon didn't hear him over the ambulance sirens coming from down the street. He lost it when he saw his mother being rolled out of the apartment on a gurney under a cloth. One arm hung over the side and it still had the small bracelet Simon had made for her in the sixth grade. The man held him back but Simon screamed and kicked until he finally broke free. He ran from him and to his mother, practically clinging to her. They loaded her into the back of the ambulance and Simon followed. No one stopped him. At the hospital, they tried their hardest to bring her back, but to no avail. The funeral was the next day and rushed, with only a few of her friends attending. Simon laid at her graveside, still in tears, long after the funeral was over. When the police came to retrieve him, he was maddened that he would be separated from his mother. He took off into the nearby woods and heard footsteps crunching rapidly behind him. Luckily, he was far faster and much smaller. He hid in a small shrub slightly distant from the trail that he had been running down and heard the footsteps rumble by. When he could no longer hear them, he fell asleep once again, but this time, with no dreams. A couple times flashlights shone by the shrub and his name was called but he remained still. After about five days of hiding in misery, his lack of food and water caught up to him. His heart finally gave up, just as he did, and let out a last, rattling breath. But in his death, he saw her again. She was dressed in white and large wings sprung from her back. She reached out and took his hand, walking with him into the bright light. And together they walked, for the rest of eternity.