A Serenade to Sleep

I feel starved of mother’s voice; it’s what kept me going. This hunger has become insatiable, but she is no longer around to feed me the sweet words I long to hear, singing me a lullaby to help me on my way at night. I have so many childish fears, even now at this age. Opening doors for instance, who’s to know what lies behind them? It’s like a rest in a piece of music; I anticipate what will come next.

I heard that the silence can kill you, it can suffocate you. Like cancer cells, it takes over your body and destroys you from the inside. Never let it take over. Never live your life in silence or leave anything unsaid. If it’s ‘I love you’, then say it. It only takes one ray of light to guide you, to find that certain phrase in a symphony that moves you and inspires you.

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I noticed something missing today: the daily rays of sunlight didn’t leak through the blinds into this dull hospital room, or my equally dull life for that matter. Instead, I was greeted by heavy, fierce rain, grey, moody skies and wind lashing at the window, breaking into my dreams. The harsh reality struck me hard to the very core, and the room seemed to grow colder. The weather was a reflection of how I was feeling.

My name is James. There are several stages in my life I would like to go back and change. I have nothing better to do than lie here in bed all day and dwell over my past, pondering over every unnecessary detail.

I vividly remember the crash; I can almost taste the memory. That night it felt like half of my body had been separated from me. The pain was excruciating. I don’t like to reminiscence, but if I recall correctly, father was in the driver’s seat but had lost all control. My pulse picked up as the car leapt forward. I thought father was taking me out on a fun trip. Confusion settled in, I screamed and my world froze as father swerved the car maniacally. My mind reeled back and forth; I couldn’t fathom his motives, why was my father behaving like this? I jolted back to reality; we were heading straight into our death as we plummeted in the dark. I could never forget the crash, it was like thunder.

Now, it feels like the weather is mocking me. I can hear the rain pour harder; smashing into the ground and the rumble of thunder, a crescendo, as if it is reading my mind. Everything I hear seems to remind me of my childhood days. The sound of the rain pounding down on the window pane penetrates deep into my thoughts; it takes me all the way back to the day I left home. That night was one of the darkest times in my life. My uncle Jason had beaten my mother to death, and I saw this with my very own eyes, just shortly after father passed away in the accident, from which I had only just managed to make out alive from. I’m not in hospital because of the accident, no, that was years ago. I’m here for something different. I’ve not been to work in the past few months. Why? You could say I’m on holiday, except I’m not coming back.

After father’s death, my uncle Jason had the idea that mother was not fit enough to raise me. He decided to take over the home and bully and harass us both. That broken night, Jason got out of hand. He took mother’s life away. I watched, horrified, as she lay on the ground, eyes rolled back, lifeless and unresponsive.

I ran out into the cold world alone and frightened. Jason followed me from behind. I turned to see his face leering at me. I heard his fake, sickly voice calling me. “Jimmy, what are you doing, leaving? Can’t handle it? Ah, just like your father. He never loved you; you were a nuisance, just like your mother. Go ahead, walk away.” Enough was enough, I ran as far as my body allowed me to, stumbling as I escaped to where exactly? I knew what he said wasn’t true, but why did the rain feel so cold against my skin?

Mother, her last words echoed through my ears, for the rest of my life. “Run James, don’t turn back. Your mummy loves you.” That’s exactly what I did; I ran and never turned my back. So why did I constantly feel in danger? I would always remember Jason’s wretched face no matter what I did or where I went. I didn’t plan on running forever, but I found myself running all my life.

My thoughts return back to father, I like to think of him every now and again. He was a gentle and caring person. Mother and father were a perfect fit for each other, they were pleasant chords harmonising one another. My happiest memories were with father, learning how to play the piano. I remember hearing him play frequently. I would sit back and stare in amazement as his fingers raced up and down along the smooth keys so effortlessly. I was overcome with so much rapture that at times I cried. I didn’t know father had such a gift. My fingers itched to touch the keys, there was energy bursting from within me, ready to be released through the tips and applied to the piano. I longed to be in father’s seat, the performer. I wished so badly, every Christmas and every birthday, to be able to sit down and play for hours on end to myself, for myself and not just to impress daddy. Wow, it’s been a long time since I called him that.

He was always out travelling, performing. The only time I saw him was when he came home to see mother. Sometimes he ate dinner with us and put me to bed afterwards. If I was lucky, mother would put me to bed instead, and I was allowed to lie awake and listen to father practising oh so faintly, but beautifully. I think daddy needed the money to take care of me and mother, who often fell ill. I never really celebrated birthdays but on my fifth, I got what I could never ask for, and even better it didn’t cost my parents a single penny. My very own father introduced me to the piano, and the world of classical and jazz music. I love jazz music especially; there are no rules or limits to what you can play. Almost nothing is planned; jazz is a spontaneous form of expression.

The repeated black and white keys on the piano reminded me of a dark figure stood in the snow, of good and bad, of happy and sad and everything in between. Daddy taught me for the next three years. When he died I felt let down and crushed, as crushed as the piano when Jason had smashed it into a million pieces. That’s what I was, in pieces. I know I shouldn’t have been angry at daddy, but I couldn’t help feeling betrayed. I thought sod you, sod your music. I never noticed daddy’s depression; it deteriorated as the years went by. The cause of it was unknown to me then. His music was a shadow of his pain; it’s amazing how beauty can deceive you.

Over the years my personality changed. I went from afraid to fearless, yet I was still a child inside, a child who had the same nightmare every night and wanted his mother by his side. No, I hadn’t grown emotionally but, there was a rhapsody forming in my mind. This was comforting; as I knew maybe one day I could let my emotions go.

Jason was like a solo in my song, that song being my life. He wasn’t like the rest of us; he was different and did his own thing. He left me traumatised and scarred. Why should I have had to witness my mother bleed to death? I could never forget that day, she lay limp and defeated. I ran mother, but look where I’ve ended up. Uncle Jason was wrong for doing what he did, he’s a murderer.

I thrash around in bed wildly, and struggle for air, I hadn’t realised I had stopped breathing. I yell in fury and a nurse comes in and asks if everything is okay. I calm down and look over to the window. The blinds have been pulled up and I can see the clouds have subsided and the rain, mere drizzle. This immense anguish will never leave me, never depart from me ever. It seems like life is turning its back on me. My heart feels torn apart, from the very surface to the deepest pit. Fresh, warm tears stream down from my eyes and roll down my face, landing on the covers. Lightly, like snow.

On a winter morning nine years ago, I visited two graves.

Joyce Redfern- Mother’s grave.

John Redfern- Father’s grave. I had discovered father’s depression was caused by the pressures he was faced with. Struggling to keep a family together, and cope with some illness he had which I knew nothing off. The pain was of a great amount as I stood by my parents’ graves, but I guess it could be lessened, because I soon was going to join them. I discovered just a few months ago from now, I had contracted the same disease father had. I was terrified; it felt like the dreaded cancer cells had taken over, destroying me, slowly. I was dying. The silence and the dark had caught up with me. Death had come knocking and it was my turn. I’m terminally ill.

Memories flood back, so does the energy. Nostalgia sweeps over me, and hits me hard. I want to touch the keys one last time, the warm notes filling the air and the world around me. I have my regrets. There ups and downs in my life. You could say this is where the sharps become the minors. I wonder if I’m a coward for doing this, well it’s too late to turn back now. The nurse comes in and interrupts my flashbacks, armed with a harmless glass filled with a drink, a deadly drink, which will finish me off once swallowed. Here I am in Dignitas in Switzerland. I start to doubt, I’ve left everything behind for this euthanasia. When mother said run, she didn’t mean forever, I just didn’t understand. I was blinded by my ignorance. This is the minor chord in my lullaby. It doesn’t fit in, but it will surely lead me on my way.

I take hold of the glass and pour the drink; it slips down my throat and goes in for the kill. The sun has gone forever, but I’ll be seeing another light.