In the silence, Helena remembered things she had tried to forget. She remembered being abandoned as a child and living most of her childhood with her grandparents. She remembered how her mother never showed her any love or affection and was forced to eventually collect her because her relatives harassed her mother about taking care of her. The embarrassment her family imposed on her mother moved her into action. They constantly asked when she would come for her daughter, now that she was married and had a home of her own. Her mother acquiesced out of guilt, nothing more.
She remembered when her son’s father abused her, and she felt hopeless. She had a baby to take care of, so her pain had to wait. She had managed to take care of herself and her bastard (a term used to describe her on occasion). She showed him the love she never got from her own parents. Helena could have given up and put her son up for adoption, and she thought about it. Deep down, she wasn’t a quitter. She was responsible for a soul and she had to believe she would make it.
She remembered everything except who she was. She knew when she was very small. She forgot right before she had her son and until he turned eighteen. Eighteen years of her life living as a stranger in her own body.
The madness only came when she felt lonely and she didn’t have many days like that. It crept up on her in the middle of the night, usually, right before she went to bed. This time it intervened after a nightmare, and it startled her. She dreamed her mother was a demon. She was gnashing her teeth and saying evil things. It was too real. Yet, even in this moment of madness, Helena knew her purpose and instantly, her sadness evaporated. She didn’t need to dwell on the melancholy of the world or how she was raised. She did the best she could in everything she did. She had no regrets.
The phone rang as if someone else knew her thoughts and wanted to affirm them. In the darkness, she peered at the lit-up screen on the phone and saw her son’s name. She was glad he called. He always called to check up on her and was her greatest cheerleader. She had him, and that was all she needed.
Categories: Short Stories