And then he Jumped - Short Story by Robin Murarka

And then he Jumped

1.

“Tamana?”

“Yes.”

Pause.

“Do you need anything?”

“No. Thank you.”

Through the door, she could hear the outsider’s hand slide away unwillingly. She took a deep breath and wiped her face. She laid her head down awkwardly unto the desk, besides the open notebook she was reading. She stared at it sideways and placed her hand on the last page. In between her thumb and forefinger she read the last word over and over.

“Endlessly…”

2.

Mathieu sat alone in the corner of the living room. He wore a black suit and nibbled on little pieces of cheese. He found himself looking around for some familiar faces and randomly adjusted his pant legs so they draped correctly over his black shoes. He had spoken to his friends the night before and they were planning to show up, but were apparently late. He was usually the more responsible and timely one anyways. Although now he felt uncomfortable. He was not sure if he would have to speak to anyone about Merri, and definitely did not want to do that alone.

He was not positioned in a casual manner. He tried to sit with his back straight, respectably, but as time progressed he resumed his normal stance in a slouched, cowering manner. He looked up at one point and saw Merri’s father speaking to someone. He found himself interested in the way Mr. Anand carried himself, for he didn’t display any characteristics of a pained man, yet upon looking at him Mathieu felt oddly compassionate towards him. He was staring at Mr. Anand, as if he wanted more intimate contact with this compassion that was flowing out of him.

“Hi Mathieu.” Mr. Anand smiled and held his hand out.

“Oh… uh, hi Mr. Anand.” Mathieu nervously got up and straightened his coat and stomped his leg silently shaking Mr. Anand’s hand. He initially returned the smile, but then felt awkward about it.

“It’s okay… I don’t really know how to act right now either.” Mr. Anand smiled weakly.

Mathieu found himself taking a deep breath in, as if that statement gave him permission to be honest. They both smiled at each other momentarily then looked down. It wasn’t an entirely uncomfortable moment, but rather just a silent moment.

“I… I find myself trying to figure out what it is that you are going through, but I find it really difficult. I’m not sure if it’s because I don’t want to… or if I just can’t.” Mathieu stated.

Mr. Anand nodded. “I don’t know what I’m going through right now Mathieu. I…” He paused and stared at the carpet. “I can’t really be concerned about myself right now, yet it overwhelms me sometimes.” He paused again, then looked up at Mathieu, smiling. “I’m glad you’re here, Mathieu. I would venture to say you were Merri’s best friend, and it makes me feel good to know he’s not forgotten yet.”

Mathieu swallowed and looked down, nodding. “I don’t think anyone will be forgetting Merri, sir.”

Mr. Anand smiled at him and walked on, rather abruptly. He felt unnerved, as if he had failed. He followed Mr. Anand with his eyes as he approached another visitor and then resumed his position in the corner. He didn’t feel like eating anymore cheese and wasn’t waiting for his friends. He just stared at the carpet, unaware of the noises around him, sunken in his inelegant pose.

3.

Among the groups that spoke silently of Merri, there was one of four: Mr. Holdom, Mrs. Holdom, Mr. Kent and Ms. Kenshi. They, like Mathieu, had plates in front of them with various crackers and cheeses.

Mr. Holdom and Mrs. Holdom were both teachers in Merri’s school. Mr. Kent was his English teacher, and Ms. Kenshi was his drama teacher.

“It’s so tragic…” Mrs. Holdom remarked, shaking her head.

They all nodded in agreement and continued to eat.

“I… never really knew he was so dissatisfied with his life. Nothing he ever wrote indicated something like this,” Mr. Kent commented. “If I had any idea… I would have spoken to him.”

Mr. Holdom piped in, finishing his mouth. “Well… do we even know that it was… you know… an independent choice? What if it was an accident?” He lowered his voice and leaned in. “I mean, for all we know the poor boy may have been intoxicated or high.” He shook his head. “It’s just tragic.”

Mr. Anand approached them, smiling. They parted the circle quickly, eagerly attentive of the host’s words.

“Mr. Holdom. Mrs. Holdom. Mr. Kent. Ms. Kenshi. I wanted to thank you for coming and giving Tamana and me your support.”

Mr. Holdom was quick to respond. He shook his head and reached out for Mr. Anand’s hand. “Dev, anything we can do. It’s our pleasure.” Everyone nodded in unison as Mr. Anand smiled, nodded, and walked on.

“He looks horrible. I can’t imagine what he must be going through,” Mrs. Holdom commented.

“Have you seen Tamana yet?” Ms. Kenshi asked.

They all paused and thought for a second and then looked at each other shaking their heads. “No, I haven’t seen her at all. But, I’m not that surprised. I can’t imagine what she must be going through either,” said Mr. Kent.

Everyone nodded.

4.

“Tamana?”

She didn’t lift her head. “What Dev?”

“Can I come in?”

“Why?”

A pause. The door slowly opened and Mr. Anand walked in, closing it behind him. He stood in front of the door and stared at the carpet, his hands in his pockets. Tamana didn’t move. Her hand was still plastered to the last page of the notebook. She moved her thumb back and forth, feeling the coarseness of the paper.

“Do you think I was a bad mother?” she casually asked.

Mr. Anand quickly responded while shaking his head. “No… not at all. You loved Merri. He knew that. You read it…”

Tamana sighed. “I didn’t ask you if I loved him. I asked you if you thought I was a bad mother…”

Mr. Anand stood there. “No. This wasn’t your fault.”

“But it was my fault,” she said unemotionally. “He was my son…” she uttered right before breaking down, her head shaking as her breaths sporadically burst in and out. Mr. Anand quickly approached her and put his arms on her shoulders, pressing his chin on her forehead. “Don’t cry, Tamana…” he whispered.

She wept and then suddenly shook him away from her screaming. “Don’t touch me!”

He quickly stepped back and looked at the wall.

“You know this is both our faults. This is both our failures! He needed us!” Tamana yelled piercingly at Mr. Anand with tears on her cheeks, crying on and off. “Our fights, our bullshit. There’s no coming back now.” She took a deep breath in and yelled with all her might. “There’s nothing I can do!”

With that she got up and ran to the wall, banging her head against it as hard as she could. Mr. Anand jumped to her and grabbed her after two or three bangs and forced her to the ground. She fell into a heap, her forehead bleeding. She lied on her back and closed her eyes, crying. “My baby… my baby… meri Jaan… tu merkho chodke kidhar gaya? How can you be gone? How can you be gone… how can you be gone… how can you be gone…” She paused weeping. “How can you be gone my lovely, lovely boy?”

5.

Sheldon inhaled and then exhaled smoke, tightening his hold of himself. He passed the butt over to Mathieu who took a puff.

“It’s fucking cold,” Sheldon commented.

Kerry nodded.

“You two are fucking late,” Mathieu said.

“Eat shit. Gimme my smoke back,” Sheldon snapped, grabbing the butt from Mathieu. Kerry made a whining noise and Sheldon gave it to her, shielding it from Mathieu. “So how was it?”

Mathieu shrugged. “Whatever man… I talked to Merri’s dad. He looks really fucked up. That’s about it. I didn’t see his mom.”

Sheldon nodded. “Yeah… she’s probably balling her eyes out.”

“She’s the one that pissed him off so much anyways,” Kerry said.

Mathieu shrugged again. “Well, whatever. I just feel sick thinking about it.”

They remained unresponsive for a few moments.

“Thinking about what?” Sheldon asked casually.

“I dunno… like… no one really knows what happened right? So it’s sort of freaky.”

“He fuckin jumped man,” Kerry laughed. “It’s pretty obvious.”

Mathieu looked at her. “And you think that shit’s funny?”

“No, I’m just saying there’s no real question about it. We all knew Merri was kinda fucked up.”

Sheldon snickered. “Kinda… man. He used to write us e-mails about how much pain he was in and shit. Like group e-mails. That’s some weird shit. I didn’t know what to say to him. I’d be like, confused when I read it. He took stuff too seriously if you ask me.”

Kerry nodded. “Yeah, way too seriously. He’d leave in the middle of a party for no reason. You’d ask him why and he’d just say he wasn’t feeling well.”

Mathieu listened to his friends banter back and forth about the dead Merri. He followed their conversation, but for the first time in a long time he felt alien… above their words. His thoughts gravitated towards Merri, and what those last few moments must have been like. What sort of emotions must have pushed him to do what he had done. It scared him to think about it. It scared him to think about the loneliness he must have felt. For the first time since his death, Mathieu missed Merri. He missed his face. He would have liked to have talked to him more. He felt close to Merri at that moment, as if they could have been best friends like his father had said.

It saddened him, for he suddenly felt alone without his best friend.

6.

Mr. Anand stood outside the bathroom door while a family friend helped Tamana wash her face and bandage her wound. Eventually the door opened and Tamana rushed out, brushing past him downstairs. Shelly walked out slowly with a compassionate look on her face. The sink had blood in it and there were towels about stained with red. Mr. Anand thanked her and told her he’d clean it up.

He entered the bathroom and closed the door, locking it behind him. He sighed and pressed his forehead against the door. “Beta…” he whispered weakly.

He turned about and rubbed his eyes through his glasses then examined the washroom. He approached the sink and saw a little puddle of blood in the corner. He knelt down wearily and stared at it. It was slightly watered down and wasn’t entirely mixed with the blood. Little strains of red flowed into the clear water. As enough of these veins mixed, the droplet became too large and gave out, bursting, traveling down the sink into the drain. Mr. Anand immediately began heaving and ran to the toilet, vomiting uncontrollably. He hugged the toilet and began to force himself to vomit harder, flexing his muscles.

It was only when he heard the echo of his voice that he realized that he was screaming as he vomited. He paused, drool hanging from his mouth with pieces of food in it. His eyes were half closed, burning red, with forced tears rolling down his cheek. He slowly crawled over to the door and reached up, turning off the light.

In the darkness he rested on the hard tiled floor, curling up into a fetal position, hugging one of his wife’s unstained towels. He heard mumblings from downstairs and wondered if the ground his son hit was as hard as these washroom tiles.

7.

Tamana did dishes in the kitchen, quickly and with dedication. She felt the sting in her forehead and paused, sighing, closing her eyes. She closed the dishwasher and slowly began walking upstairs, past the locked bathroom, into Merri’s room, as if in a trance. She closed the door and locked it, remembering the fight they had the day he installed the lock.

She sat down on his desk and stared at his notebook. The room was dark but slightly lighted by the sun wafting in through the blinds. She looked over to his stereo and saw the label on the tape in the deck.

“Play Me, Mommy.”

Her eyebrows flinched as she read the label, and cautiously pressed play.

“My dearest Mommy. I am sure you have read my last passage numerous times by now, but still do not understand.” She began to cry uncontrollably as she heard her son’s voice. “Oh, baby…” she muttered weakly. The tape continued. “I want you to understand me, Mommy. I want you to know who your son is. I want you to be proud that you created a son like me.”

Through her tears she began muttering. “I am proud of you… I am so proud of you…”

“I want you to think of that passage again, Mommy. But this time, I want you to do it as I sing this song for you. This song is called ‘Ordinary World’.”

Tamana wiped her face and carefully picked up the notebook, readying herself. As the bittersweet melody slowly started she felt her heart break through the barricades of her shell and pump with a ferocity she was unaccustomed to.

As Merri’s voice gently wafted in, it no longer sounded sure, confident or even that of a boy. He sounded like a little girl on the brink of tears.

{listen to song while reading}

He took a deep breath in, as if preparing to explode. As the chorus began, Tamana was swept away from the material world and although her eyes were open she saw nothing. She was in the middle of the ocean, surrounded by the voice of Merri. Merri the boy, who did not feel like her child but rather something too beautiful to have been created by her.

She closed her eyes and rested her head on her arms, listening.

Tamana felt alone, but not alone because she missed her son. She missed Merri, the boy, and felt her own needs as a woman suffering. She would liked to have been friends with Merri. She immediately, and for the first time, recognized that she missed his companionship, for he brought out something in her that had seemed lost. His words echoed a loneliness familiar to her own heart.

She allowed herself to be led entirely by her son, and as the guitar rifts bended this way and that she felt her own heart flutter, weakening her.

Merri’s voice began to float. His mother caught herself unconsciously smiling through her tears as she heard his throat hold a difficult note with passion. She cried with pride in her heart, for she saw the image of him that she held in her mind gleam with white energies. She envisioned him screaming at the top of his lungs with frustration, love, and pain, all materialized in the vocal vibrations of his throat. He was screaming for ‘us’.

As the song ended, Tamana sat there, motionless. She was overwhelmed and was not certain where she was or what she was doing. Slowly, the murmurs throughout the house started becoming more apparent and she opened her eyes. Immediately, the dream was over and she was flooded with the nauseating truth that there was no more to experience with her boy. The tape continued to play with nothing but silence. She waited and listened attentively, praying and hoping for a cough or even the sound of him turning off the microphone… but there was nothing.

She realized, then and there, that there would most certainly be nothing else on the tape. She knew this to be true. She pressed stop on the player and the resonating static of the tape playing ended, making the room silent as the dead.

She leaned back in her chair and closed her eyes, resting her head back. Her face pointed upwards as she took a deep breath in. As she exhaled she imagined that day.

She imagined Merri, alone in the apartment. He would have turned up the heat in the house and kept the balcony door open. She saw him wake up in his bed and unsmilingly take a shower and get dressed. He would have very slowly walked to the kitchen to eat something. She imagined his silent breakfast. She imagined him sitting on the dining table alone, and in silence, eating his cold cereal.

She imagined the moment after he finished. The final breath when he would put his bowl away and look at the balcony. He would have seen the wind shaking the curtains and it would have been beautiful to him. It would have been a symbol of God.

He would have approached the balcony and stood outside, staring at the world around him. She took a deep breath in, feeling the clean crisp air that he would have at that moment. His eyes would have been squinted and he would have had a small smile on his face. He would have imagined her hearing his tape, feeling alive for the first time in years. He would have looked down, with absolutely no fear.

He wouldn’t have made it dramatic. He would have savored the moment of confidence and surety in his actions. And then, he would have simply, quickly, efficiently, climbed the railing and leapt.

Tamana didn’t think about living the rest of her life without her boy. She did not think about Dev or the house, or the tape. She thought about Merri at that last moment. She thought about how much he loved. She thought about how much pain he was in. She thought about his loneliness, and how badly he wanted to be understood. She felt like a bad mother, for the first time in her entire life. It was her responsibility to hold her beloved son in her arms and tell him that no matter how much he believed, no matter how badly he wanted to, and no matter how much his heart willed it… he wouldn’t have been able to fly.

 

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