He sat there watching TV, trying to ignore the smell. The ailing woman was getting to be very high maintenance as the days went by.
“Nick, get the sponge! I need a bath!”
Nick shuddered at the thought. 1,2,3,4,5…….
At five second intervals, the noise got louder. You couldn’t run from it, you couldn’t hide from it, it was always there. Images of monstrous sea creatures came to Nick’s mind as he thought of his mother and his responsibility to her. He went to the laundry room to get the bucket, soap, towels and new clothing. This is madness, he thought.
Nick was 38 and his mother was approaching 70s, and he learnt one thing from his life with her. You get better at nagging as you get older, or more successful at it, rather.
“Nick! Goddamn it, i swear it! If you don’t get here RIGHT NOW, i’m going to hurt you!”
She was old, she was fat, and she was covered in sores from some debilitating skin disease that made her look like something from a science fiction movie, the kind that if you shoot with a laser gun, she would explode leaving a green gooey mess everywhere.
He raced to the room, with the bucket full of soapy water and another one full of warm plain water, spilling a trail on the floor.
Silently, he got to work…so to speak. He lifted her left arm as she resisted stubbornly so he could wipe her pits. He had to hold his breath, as the stench was too much. She was quiet now. 1,2,3,4,5,6…
“When are you going to get a woman, Nick?” She asked.
Nick went red, gripping both the sponge and her arm tightly. Twenty five years later, he finally gave in.
“AAAAAAAAARRRGH, YOU ARE THE BANE OF MY EXISTENCE!!!! And i know that’s cliche, but i FUCKING HATE YOU!!! EVERY WOMAN I BRING TO THIS HOUSE, YOU SCARE AWAY WITH YOUR STUPID QUESTIONS!!! (Now mocking her) Where do you work? Oh really? You dress too much like a whore to be a lawyer! My, when ARE you two getting married? You know, Nick here practically a virgin! All he ever does is bring home fat ugly women, i can’t wait to see YOUR kids, they’ll be an IMPROVEMENT!”
Then there was quiet. He waited for her to response but she didn’t.
The other thing that he had learned from living with her was that one thing worse than her nagging was the gaps of silence between the noise. It was almost suspenseful and it spoke louder than she did. Except that this time it was different. She didn’t respond at all. This time, the silence seemed to provide him with the ending to this miserable story. And so, he began to laugh.
He laughed like a child, remembering that time, when his mum had yelled at him for playing with snails, and then she stormed into the kitchen only to trip on the kitchen floor.
The silence had set him free, and he realised that he wasn’t going to let go of this opportunity. He ran to get his suitcases from the laundry room, not realising that he had left a trail of soapy water on the floor.
One slip in the wrong part of the kitchen was all it took for him to hit his head on the edge of the kitchen table, cracking his skull open and landing on the floor.
Nick was confused, he didn’t know whether to laugh at the irony or to be angry. It was getting cold and he was feeling sleepy. He’ll figure it out in the morning, he told himself.
Epilogue: A couple of days later, the landlord found two bodies in the house. One had been dead for two days, the other for what looked like two weeks.