Queen

She released the shadows of his room, illuminated by the ceiling bulb pulsing like the waves of the heart monitor. All this garbage she once scorned and scolded transformed into the daily routine of her son, who couldn’t be bothered to drag his laundry downstairs or shut off his boombox. The idols of his life stared at her with their mockery and pity: the wrestlers of sweat and unhindered aggression, the long-tongued rockstars with their thick makeup, the snobbery of Freddie Mercury’s gaze, and the testosterone filled muscle builder that teased her with the thumb that hooked the garter of his red boxers.

How long it had been, the silence of their home, masked by the blaring sounds of his speakers? All that passed through her memories are of her paperwork and high-strung clients; he just stood there from a distance, smiling. His replies were generic. His grades were fine.

“Don’t worry about me, Ma. I’ll be okay. Glen will visit tonight by the way. I’d told you about him right? My senior, captain of the football club. He’s going to check my Queen collection. He’s a music lover too.”

She sat on his bed and noticed the musk: the smell of dried sweat and semen. She opened the windows. The hinges have dried and rusted; she only managed to let in a slight slice of the evening air. Of which of the smell is his? Of which of the smell is others? She began to pick up the clothes. Unfamiliar ones appeared.

She used to buy him his clothes at the second weekend of every month. They would negotiate with each other what shirts and jackets to pick. He was the one who picked his underwear. She knew he wasn’t fond of briefs, but three pairs appeared: white, red, green. Of which is his, of which is theirs she did not bother to wonder. She piled them all up in the laundry pile of unfamiliarity and brought them downstairs to the washing machine.

Along the way she passed by the mahogany dining table of which she is to spend her dinner alone. The figure of his father appeared sitting drunk beside a dozen beer cans.

“Fuck you whore, I do not give birth to a gay son! That bastard of yours is a fag! He is not my son!” echoed the terrors of a decade ago. She shoved the pile into the machine, set it to 10, and fondled the diamond ring he gave her. She felt lucky that Valentines’ Day when he proposed to her. Diligent, sociable, baritone-voiced Bruce, the hopeless romantic two years older than her, whom she met in a drunken night through her friend Eliza. She couldn’t let go of that wedding in the beach, with the blue sea and black sands to give blessings to the wedding that bound together their families.

But she had to protect her son from the beer bottle that he was to throw in his head on their anniversary night. Two concussions were stitched in the hospital. A divorce was filed afterwards. She knows she was right: David did not deserve to feel his father’s scorn every time he was left to his father’s guidance. David did not deserve the boxing training his father punished him to do after seeing the bruise on David’s face when he came home from school. David deserved to be himself. He did not deserve to be someone else he is not.

But when the day came that she had to sleep alone on her bed, the lack of snores and turning beside her disturbed her sleep. This emptiness she filled in with 8 years of high-strung clients, business meetings, and successive promotions.

In the corner of it was David’s smile, a smile that will not greet her in her tired return from the office.

She threw the ring and drowned her sobs in the whirling engines of the machine behind her.

 

Death cluttered around her unmowed lawn. In David’s room, three boxes were laid in front of her. One of them was overflowing with the clothes she had gathered and washed. Another was filled halfway with discs and memorabilia from Queen. Another she is about to fill with the stuff that lay hidden in his cabinet. She sorted them all neatly in a pile. Threw away the three Playgirl magazines that hid in the corner. Shifted through the papers he had done and kept.

One caught her attention. It was an essay written for his composition class.

“There are times when I tell myself I should just run away. Embark on an adventure across the city streets. Follow my dreams. Survive. She barely notices me after all. She always come home tired. She doesn’t mind the dinner I repeatedly cook for her. She looks at it with droopy eyes. She asks me the usual questions. But she doesn’t notice the routine to my answers.

I don’t know what I did wrong back then. She was the mother I always knew when my father left. Her attention was always out of place, staring into empty space. I couldn’t leave her; she still needs me. If only I knew what I did wrong; maybe I could ask forgiveness. Maybe I could have become a better son to my father.

But I do not know what I did wrong. And the only thing I know is to stay, and stay strong, and wait for her to be better than what I know of her.”

She began to shudder; her body felt like letting go of everything within, freeing her system of every toxicity that grounded her to her dimmed perception of dealing with life. The paper crumbled in her hands as she held on. She lied down in bed, looked at the emptiness where her son nearly laid down to his final rest. Not seeing him prepare dinner, she knocked upon his door, opened it, and saw him writhing, coughing, sweating, in short breaths and high heat.

With all the effort it took to carry him down to the car, to the hospital, she was not able so save him as his pulse slowly waned. He died of pneumonia, the doctor said. He died of AIDS. And as she look upon the life that stepped out of him, the forces that held her home sane slowly broke. Was she to be alone for the rest of her life? It flashed upon her behind her cloak of overworked anxiety the hatred both hers and his parents had on her for the divorce, the intimidation of her co-workers as she captured the attention and support of her boss, the unanswered reunions, the unmet outings.

But the paper spoke like his last. And it made her emptiness so heavy.

Later that night, she removed from her wine casket the two Amontillados she and Bruce bought in Spain for their future anniversaries. The bottle was popped, and the wine washed through her entire being, soothing and breaking the recesses from which all the pain hid and froze.

 

The dining room shifted in hues of blue when she woke up. The wind howled outside; will a thunderstorm come today? But footsteps from upstairs broke through the noise, from the white leather shoes David wore. David? She stared at him as he went down clad in a white rubbery suit of long sleeves and pants. His hair was even donned longer, not from his generation, and he was humming.

“I’m just a poor boy, I need no sympathy, because I’m easy come, easy go, a little high, a little low…” he hummed to her.

Weakened, she stepped close and touched his face.

“Mama, I killed myself. I know what I was getting myself into and I’ve thrown it all away. I didn’t mean for it to hurt you, Mama. I didn’t meant to make you cry.

But I am not coming back. Please carry on.”

But she would not.

“But Ma, it is too late. It’s already my time.”

She dragged him to the kitchen, made him it where he used to sit. She fumbled over the food in the fridge, over the knives and the cooking pans. She would give him the dinner that he never had. She would cook it herself. The chair behind her moved.

“But I have to leave you behind and face the truth.”

Her face was already breaking apart, and she tried to hold together as she urged him to sit. But her spirit crumbled too, and she kneeled on the floor, hugging him. “I did not want to die too, Ma. But here in his house, I wish I’ve never been born at all.”

A spirit crackled from the corner where the bathroom lay, brushing the blues into hues of blood red. The fridge, the cabinets, the sinks—almost everything around her— broke into chorus as the storm banged its drums.

“I see a little silhouetto of a man; Scaramouche, scaramouche will you do the fandango?

Thunderbolt and lightning – very very frightening me!!!

Gallileo, Gallileo, Gallileo, Gallileo, Gallileo Figaro – magnifico’”

David stood up and sang. “I’m just a poor boy; nobody loves me.”

“He’s just a poor boy from a broken family, spare him his life from this monstrosity!”

“Easy come, easy go. Mama, will you let me go?”

“My God, no! I will not let you go!”

“Let him go!”

“My God, no! I will not let you go!”

“Let him go!”

“My God, no! I will not let you go!”

“Let him go!”

“Will not let you go—” “Let me Go! Why you never let me go?”

“No, no, no, no, no, No!”

David pushed himself out of her grasp. “No, no, no, no,” she murmured.

“Mama mia, mama mia, mama mia, let me go,” David begged, “for Beelzebub has this devil put aside for me, for me, for me!!!!”

Thunder and lightning crackled to the guitar tunes that struck from David’s dancing shoes. He and the silhouette pranced to the door outside that let in blinding rays of light, accompanied by the rhythm of the madly moving dining room equipment.

“So you think you can love me and leave me to die? Oh, baby! Can’t do this to me baby! Just gotta get out– just gotta get right outta here…”

And out they went towards the rays that engulfed him. The dining hall turned blue once again. All of the things that sang returned slowly to their inertness. She lied on the floor, forsaken and defeated, and a song drew life from her mouth.

“Nothing really matters, anyone can see, nothing really matters to me…”

 

She woke up the next night after, freed from her hangover. Waiting for her at the corner was the disc player she forgot to turn off. After gulping down two glasses of water, she picked up the disc case that lied atop the player. Queen’s Greatest Hits, Volume 1. She remembered the cover. The collection in David’s room was originally hers; she bought some of it home after Bruce and she went to one of their concerts.

At nights together, they would dance around to their music. She would kneel and hold David’s arms and guided him on his spotlight. And she would let him go, and she would let him follow her across the living room, and catch him when he falls. “I guess I should really them all go.” she thought.

She took the longest bath of her life since the days of work. Took a gulp from the milk carton. Donned her best make-up yet; wore a tube top, blazers, and leggings. She bought it two years ago, but only now did it feel right.

She sat on the driver’s seat and brought out the CD case from her bag. Took out a marker from her drawer and signed its cover. “Mia”

She drove aimlessly around the city in her Porsche, humming happily to the tunes Freddie Mercury sang beside her.

“Another one bites the dust

Another one bites the dust

And another one gone, and another one gone

Another one bites the dust

Hey, I’m gonna get you too

Another one bites the dust”

FIN


 

Notes on the Creative Process:

This short story inspired by this prompt.

I’d never thought I’d actually finish this short story; it’s the first one I ever accomplished that tackled such mature themes. It actually came as a surprise to me; it was just supposed to be a woman grieving about her dead son. But when the first words found themselves on paper, each of the characters had a life of their own. Mia, the main character; David, the good gay son; Bruce, the archetypal good husband who happen to have backward expectations of his son. The Queen references shocked me too, but since it felt fun to play out on the themes, I guess I might as well push it.

The Bohemian Rhapsody take was supposed to be a joke. It seemed overdramatic for Mia, but I’ve seen how people can crumble down, so I believe it isn’t that farfetched. And I did enjoy listening to Freddie Mercury all over again. I only heard him a few times on the radio when I was a kid; it was our favorite song. I and my sister and my cousin would dance crazy when they ask Scaramouche to do the Fandango.

Did you enjoy the story? Comment below. And while you’re at it, why not dance to Freddie Mercury’s music? Embeds of the two songs in the story I included below. Thanks for reading.

Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody
Queen’s Another One Bites the Dust

 

Written by Art Calleja, blogging as EklektikaMann. Lyrics courtesy of the Internet. Safe Sex always, xoxo

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