Monster in December

By: Nadiah Surya Nahari

“I… killed my mother.”

I could see his honest tears streaming down on his face as he began to say that shocking confession, his shoulder was shaking, he didn’t try to weep his tears, he was just let the tears sliding down on his charming face. I also couldn’t believe what I heard. After all this years, was I a friend of a murderer? Was it true? How could I believe him this far?

I cleared my throat and asked him calmly, “H-how?”

I expected to hear his answer directly but he seemed like he needed time to gather his energy to tell me everything about it. He took a deep breath frequently. I trapped in silence. I could hear my own heartbeat and my mind wouldn’t stop thinking. I told myself to stay calm with this situation if I want to know everything about him, if I want to understand him. I waited patiently.

Finally he began, “My mother and I were breathing in the poor roof that time. I grew up without a figure of father.” I know his father got car crashed when he was 2-month-old.

“She made a living by being a babysitter. She worked every day before sunrise until 5 in the evening.”

“… and it was summer when I got high fever but she didn’t have money to take me to see a doctor.”

He took a deep breath, “It was the third day when the fever was getting worse.”

“She tried as hard as she could to heal the fever by giving me a towel with ice on my forehead, the only prescription she could only afford, but still the fever wouldn’t go away.”

“She told me with her warm voice to transfer my fever by holding her hand.”

“I still remember the words she said. She said, come here dear, hold my hand, transfer your fever to me, when the sun comes out your fever will be gone.”

“I held her hand until I fell asleep peacefully without any bad dreams or midnight-sudden-waking up. Everything felt fine and easy.”

His crying became louder but he refused the tissue I offered, he was truly letting his tears out.

He took a long pause before he continued, “She is right, the fever is gone. Ridiculous, isn’t it? If you think I’m lying and this story sounds stupid, it’s totally fine though I’m still learning to accept this reality.”

“I don’t think so. The story isn’t stupid and I know you aren’t lying.” I said.

He turned his face away from the ceiling, “I woke up with a big smile on my face, I said good morning to her when she was still asleep.”

“I shook her body to wake her up. I only could remember her body was cold which was strange because it was summer so I wrapped her with 3 blankets to make her warm.”

His eyes showed me the truth. The truth of his miserable life. The truth of an innocent child who thought that he killed his mother. The truth of the pain that hurts him.

“I ran to the kitchen to find something to be eaten. I found nothing in the dining table but a birthday cake in the fridge. The candle said it’s 7 so, I assumed it’s for me and yes that day was my birthday. I decided to wait until mom wake up so I could blow the candle and eat the cake together with her.”

“so, it seemed like your mom prepared for your birthday?” I asked him.

“Yes, I believe.”

“then?”

“then I… waited and waited until the stars and the moon came, she still didn’t wake up and she didn’t even move since morning. Can you imagine how confused I was that time?”

I nodded.

“I shook her body again, hoped she will say a word but it never happens.”

“Her body was truly cold. Every time I touched her body, the cold crept into my skin and I felt like I was trapped by something I can’t see that made me can’t move. I thought the blanket didn’t work and I thought warm water might help, I was only 7, the age when most of parents tell their children to stay away from knife, stove and electricity but with my courageous I decided to boil a pan of water.”

“I remember how my mother turned on the stove so I turned it on like my mother did. Surprisingly the stove worked when I thought I couldn’t make it works.” He chuckled.

“… but it didn’t mean good. I put the pan with the water inside it. I waited in the bedroom where my mother was. About 2 or 3 minutes later there was a sound like bomb from the kitchen. I took a look what happened. There, I saw fire were all around the kitchen. The fire burned out the cake that I put on the kitchen table.”

I began to cry. I couldn’t hold my tears anymore. He is a poor thing. I could imagine the pain he got. He was only 7, too young to be sad, too young to feel loss.

“I was panic. I screamed for help. The fire was getting mad. I dragged my mother out of the house. I laid her down on the grass across the street. My head was spinning and everything was blurry, I only knew the neighbors came and I didn’t know what happened after my eyes shut.”

All of sudden the rain came. Didn’t realize the sky was already dark. We both looked out to the window. His apartment is the best place to watch the rain falling down from the sky to kiss the ground.

“The first thing I remember when I woke up in the next day was my mother’s cold body. It haunts me. I found myself woke up in a hospital and saw my uncle was sleeping on the sofa. I was confused, why my mother didn’t show up. I screamed out like crazy which woke my uncle up. I wished I found my mother instead of my uncle. I wished my mother there then kissed my forehead to calm myself down. I wished my mother sing me a song to stop me from crying. I wished my mother hug me.”

“I asked him where my mother was but he didn’t answer. I called my mother over and over. My uncle tried to make me stop screaming. I kicked him many times to make him let me go and found my mother. He pressed the bell above my bed twice until a nurse came and injected me. Finally, I didn’t have power to fight so I just cried.”

“… then where is your mother?” I asked him.

“My uncle told me. The fire was because of leaking gas and my mother already dead for almost a day. She is dead in the night. When I said good morning, shook her body, waited for her to wake up and dragged her out of the house, she is already dead. How could I be so stupid?”

“Hey, don’t blame yourself, you were only 7.” I rubbed his back.

He shook his head frustrated, “would you know someone is dead when you are 7?”

“No, when I was 8 I thought my cat asleep before my parents told me she is dead.” I answered.

I crossed my legs and asked, “So you lived with your uncle?”

“Yeah...” he sighed.

“Did you come to her funeral?”

He looked into my eyes and nodded,

“What if I didn’t hold her hand? Is she still alive now?”

Carefully I said, “No.”

“Why?”

“She died because fate.”

“I wish I could accept that fact and stop blaming myself.”

He rested his head on the sofa and shut his eyes.

He seemed tired of crying and talking about it so I asked him if he still wanted to continue or not and he said yes but he needed a drink at least mineral water.

“Here…” I handed him a mini bottle of mineral water from the table.

“Thanks…” he smiled meaningfully at me.

I smiled back and said, “Anytime.”

“You know what, you are the only person whom I talked to about this.” He spoke without opened his eyes.

“Really? So, your uncle doesn’t know?”

“Nope. No one knows but you.”

I stood up and looked out through the window, the rain stopped, people began to walk slowly on the sidewalk and the birds flew away from one roof to other roof. The orange sky appeared. I didn’t realize I was being here for 7 hours. My stomach needed its ammunition.

“I’m going to order pizza, you want one?”

“Nope but soda will be enough.”

“Okay.”

I ordered one large cheese pizza and 2 sodas; it needed about 20minutes to send them after I mentioned the address.

He still sat down when I went back. He yawned many times that made me yawned too. I needed to wash my face.

“May I use your bathroom?”

“Of course. You know where it is.”

“If the pizza arrived please take it. The money is on the table.”

“Got it.”

I washed my face back and forth because the water was fresh, it felt like mountain water. I washed my hands too and looked my reflection on the mirror. Right on the above of the mirror there was a cupboard which door was already half opened. My eyes were attached to an orange tiny bottle. I took it and slipped in my pocket. I know what it is.

I tried to act normally. I went to the living room and found him was eating a slice of my pizza. I pretended that I was cranky because he ate my pizza and he said,

“I thought you were kind, so you would share your pizza.” I laughed and pinched him. He laughed with his mouth full of pizza.

“Oh my God, you save my stomach.” He took a slice more.

“You said soda will be enough. This pizza is mine!!”

“Humble people will share their pizza.”

We both laughed. 2 slices of pizza are enough to shut my stomach off.

“So?”

“So?”

“Do you want to continue telling your story?”

“I think that’s all.” He said.

“Are you sure?”

“Uh huh..”

I clenched my jaw,

“So, w-what’s this?” I cried and put that orange bottle on his lap.

He seemed surprised. I thought he will get mad at me because I was indelicate by taking it without any permission but he smiled at me.

“Sshhh please don’t cry…. I’m sorry, I want to tell you about it in the right time but I think now is the right time.”

He stood up and went to his bedroom. He opened his drawer and got some papers on his hand.

“What are those?”

“You will know.”

He handed in the papers to me. I didn’t want to read. I only would hear from him directly.

“You tell me, I will read it later.”

“Okay…”

He looked at me, “It’s about my mental health papers.”

I wept my tears. I couldn’t look his face so I looked at the ceiling.

“Do you remember every time I told you I went on vacation every December?”

I nodded, “yes”.

“I never go on vacation every December.”

“So, you lied to me?”

“For good, yes.”

“I want to know everything, please.”

“I have depression. Mine is called Seasonal Affective Disorder. My demons will appear every December because…”

“What?”

“How does it feel like?”

“The depression?”

“Uh.. huh”

“It feels like Harry Potter’s happiness is sucked by Dementor. You will only feel sadness for a month in my case is in December. I feel lost in the dumps, crawling to get out of it but I can’t.”

“Have you ever tried to….”

“kill myself?” he cut me.

I nodded.

“6 times.”

“Please don’t do that again. I couldn’t imagine if you did that.”

“I’ll try.”

“so, where did you go every December?”

“The hospital that is written on the paper.”

“Why you didn’t tell me earlier?”

“I can’t. Telling it isn’t easy. I need years to tell it to you. Not easy, I hope you will understand.”

“It’s okay. I just…. feel guilty that I didn’t take care of yourself. I’m so sorry.”

“It’s not your fault okay? It’s just about the time.”

I understand.

“you know what, I care about you so much, I just want you to know.”

“Thanks”

“Let me take care of yourself.” I begged him.

“Why?”

“because I want and why not?”

“Let’s take care of ourselves first because your own mental health is important too.”

“No, I mean let me look after yourself when the monster comes…”

“If you want to, you can come to the hospital every December.”

I agreed.

It was 2 years ago. Since then I’ve spent most of my time with him. Now here I am, adoring this white dress. It is like dreaming, I’m getting married with him tomorrow. His doctor said he gets better than before. He has big chance to fight back his demon. The key is he believes his self that he can and I know he can. I never stop listening to him, whatever bothers his mind. I try to be there for him when he needs support or at least someone who cares. The only thing I could understand to fight the monster is trust yourself, you can if you want, don’t stop trying and remember there’s someone who cares about