The Phantom of Choice

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21

I woke up. I felt okay, but my head was feeling somehow heavy. Probably that was caused by the time I spent outside yesterday on the burning sun. I had to get up, there were plenty of things that, I needed to do today. I sat on bed for few seconds and stretched myself. I moved my head in all directions, raised my arms upwards as much as I could until I finally felt how the muscles in my back relaxed. Then I relaxed my whole body for a moment and got up. I dressed up and checked my appearance in the mirror. Yup, all was good.

“Good morning, m... mom?” What was my mom doing here? Wasn’t she...?

“Morning, sweetie? How did you sleep? Come here, hurry and eat, we have a lot of things to do today.”

“Sure, mom, I slept very well. I just have a bit headache, but I think that’s because I was on sun so much yesterday.”

“Oh, dear. Let me prepare a tea for you. You will be feeling much better soon. Here, come and eat a bit. I baked bread this morning.”

“Thank you, mom. How are you feeling? Are you okay? You are not sick?” I asked. Why did I ask that? Of course, my mom was okay. She was perfectly well.

No, she wasn’t.

“Yes, sweetie, I am fine. Come here, you need to eat fast. Your father is waiting for you on the fields. We are harvesting the vegetable today. Soon, it will be winter.”

I didn’t wait for too long. I cut a piece of bread and put some butter on it. “It’s amazing, mom. Are you sure you are not feeling bad or anything?”

Why was I bothered by that so much? I saw my mom right in front of me and she was perfectly well. So what was so wrong with me?!

“Are you okay? Why are you asking like that? Are you concerned about something?” she asked and she put her hand on my forehead. “Maybe you shouldn’t go out today. You feel somehow feverish.”

“No, that’s okay, I am good. I should be going now, I can’t let dad wait for too long.”

“You didn’t even finish eating yet. And what about the tea?” she started to protest.

I took the tea and drank the whole glass in one go. “I finish eating on the way,” as I spoke, I walked towards door. There, I stopped for a moment before I turned around, rushed back and hugged mom tightly. “I love you so much, mom.”

“I love you too, sweetie. Now hurry up and go. Don’t stay on sun too much and drink plenty of water.”

“Will do,” I let mom go and run to fields.

Why was I acting this way? What happened? Why was I so curious and concerned about mom? What was wrong with me?

Because she is dead.

The images from long ago appeared in my head. Mom laying dead on her bed. Me and brother at her funeral.

A huge strike of headache hit me. It pained me so much I fell on my knees. For few seconds I was struggling to catch my breath.

Jungle was everywhere around me. Humid air. Trees so high there is no sun. A big colourful flower right in front of my face. Sweet scent.

What was that? Oh right, I need to go help dad harvesting the vegetables. Surely, my brother will be there too. Or probably he went to work into woods. We needed to start getting the wood for winter badly.

“Hi,” I shouted from far when I noticed the figures of my dad and brother. I waved to them and walked fast to them.

“Hello, Verya. You are finally awake. How are you feeling?”

“I am okay, dad. What about you?”

“Of course, she is feeling okay, she slept half the day,” my brother said bit angrily. I understood him. He needed to get up before dawn probably.

“But you know why. She was at the hot sun the whole day yesterday. Your mom said we can be happy if she actually gets up today. Verya, if you are feeling tired it’s okay, you can go rest. You shouldn’t overdo it.”

“That is okay, I am good. What about you, dad, are you feeling okay? Not tired or anything?”

“Of course, I am well. I feel perfectly healthy as that big oak growing in our back yard.”

“We don’t have the oak anymore. We cut it few days after your...” his what? What was that what I wanted to say?

“What are you talking about? Are you crazy? The oak is still there big and healthy and it will be there as long as our family will be alive.”

“No. We cut it. Right after...Where is your wife, brother? Why you didn’t bring her to help us? Is she taking care of your daughter?”

My dad and brother looked on each other very confused. As if the words I was saying didn’t make sense.

“Verya, are you sure you are okay? Do you want to rest a bit?”

“Yes, I am well, why?”

“Because I am not married. I don’t have a wife and certainly not any kids.”

“No, I am pretty much sure you do. And she was sick and when I tried to help I was caught...”

The headache started again. The pain was all over my body. It paralyzed me. I was not able to breathe at all. In the corner of my eye I noticed, how those two rushed towards me, how they were shouting my name. My father nodded to my brother and he suddenly disappeared. My eyes stopped to see properly. I felt how the last air I had, left my lungs.

The forest. Humid air again. Where am I? What is this place?

I heard a movement on my left. Duncke was wrapped in some plant. Colourful, big. After he moved it wrapped around him more. On my right something moved again. I noticed Zorach, he was wrapped the same. I tried to shout for help, but the plant noticed me. Something was covering my mouth, thus no sound got out eitherway. I tried to reach my gun, but it was too far and the plant was too fast. My hand reached some stick-like thing. I managed to wrap my fingers around it but then the plant exhaled the sweet scent on me again.

“Verya, Verya! Can you hear me? Are you okay?” I familiar voice. Yes, that was my mom.

“Mom?” I opened my eyes and noticed her. I was sitting in a shade and she was crouching in front of me. She pulled some weirdly smelling thing away from my face.

“What happened? Where are we?” I asked trying to stand up. “What was that big plant?”

“Are you okay? You passed out. Your brother came for me.” He was there right behind her. With my dad too.

“Where are we? What’s going on here?”

“Sweetie, we are still in the field. We were harvesting vegetables when you passed out.”

“What are you saying? We are on sea!” I said pointing on the water around us.

“You are not okay, Verya, you are seeing strange things because of the sun. You need to rest!”

“No, I don’t want to rest!” I shouted and stood up fast. I walked away from them. “Who are you?!”

“We are your parents, don’t you recognize us?”

“My parents are dead! They both died several years ago!”

“Verya?” A voice that didn’t belong to my life, to my parents, appeared from behind me.

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