Imagine this. On the same day your mother dies, you learn your father is a serial killer. Talk about a bad day. Mind you, my mother’s death had nothing to do with my father. Is that a silver lining? No. The only silver lining in this story is the jagged edge of the blade my father used to kill his victims. How do I know? It turns out my mother knew all along, or at the very least had her suspicions.
It was a bright, crisp, and early autumn morning. The kind of start to the day that makes you look up and take a deep breath. I sucked in the brisk air and smiled at the soaring magpies. Or were they blackbirds? Does it matter? Let’s stick with magpies. Anyway, I was making my daily visit to the hospice where my mother was slowly deteriorating. She had cancer. Ten years prior she managed to beat the damn thing, now it had come back more ferocious than ever. Nothing anyone can do. Correction. Nothing anyone could do – she’s dead now.
I made my way through the glossy, long corridors that felt like my second home. Unlike a hospital, the place attempted to masquerade as something else. Bright, lime green splashes of colour dotted around the place, trying to make things less depressing. It didn’t work. The smell of antiseptic permeated room to room, silently and invisibly revealing its true purpose. Now desensitised, I sailed through the maze of doors on autopilot. I think that day I wore my doc-martin boots. I recall how they squeaked embarrassingly with each stride.
As I approached my mother’s ward, I could tell something was different. The nurses didn’t greet me with a smile and courteous “hello,” as usual. They looked solemn. I rushed over to my mother’s bed, and I could see the trigger. My mother, my beautiful, radiant, and lovely mother was a shrivel of herself. All the glowing life was officially gone. Left was this tiny, sunken, grey person with closed eyes, and rasping breaths.
The nurses reassured my darkest fear. She was dying. It was time. All I could do was sit by her side, and hold what was left of her fragile hand as a nurse called my father. It was no good. She passed before he arrived. I was glad really. It felt right just us two. I was birthed into this world by this great woman, and she left this world by my side. Together.
When my father arrived, he was a wreck. The cancer had somehow shrunken him too. Was it like sympathy pains? Some kind of transference, where he mirrored my mother’s image. His skin seemed ashen, and his eyes were as lifeless as hers. It took a while until he eventually peeled himself off her limp body, and silenced his heaving cries. We embraced one another, as grieving family members do. At that time, I didn’t know what my father really was. A monster. However, I was about to find out.