An entry in The Crocodile Prize
People’s Award for Short Stories
AS soon as I hung up the telephone, I put on my tee-shirt and dashed from my room as fast as I could.
“Trevor is that you!” Veronica screamed from the laundry.
I had no time to respond to her or explain to her what had just occurred. I could feel my heart pounding hard against my chest and raced as quickly as I could, not even paying attention to the vase I had knocked over as I hurried through the front door and onto the street leading to the main road.
Numbness was torturing my muscles as I continued to run. I closed out the honking of cars and the waving hands as I raced across every street without caution.
The voice at the other end of the line became louder and louder in my memory and I could hardly bear the thought of how distressed it sounded. Sweat dripped down my back, my forehead and my chest.
“Trevor honey, I need you to do me a huge favour,” mum's voice had said.
Most times I would play dead or shut myself in my room and let her repeat herself two or three times before I responded.
“You have to stop been rude to your mother and start been responsible honey,” she said.
I disliked it when she called me ‘honey’. It made me feel as though I was a kindergarten kid still learning how to use the toilet alone.
“That’s why you hired Veronica,” I protested and followed her out of my room.
“Honey,” she continued, but I cut her off.
“And how many times will I ask you to stop calling me honey mum. It’s even more embarrassing when you say it in front of my friends at school. They call me all kinds of stuff and make look like a complete loser!” I snapped back at her and backed away from her as quick as I could, because had she always smacked me on the head and would scold me for speaking hard at her.
But instead, she gave me a big smile and apologised with the most promising look on her face I had ever seen before and said, “It will never happen again.”
“Veronica is too old to do or manage some things around the house” she said softly, “and that’s why you come in handy, now that you’ve grown up.”
“I just feel like you’re bugging me every now and then for some things that are unnecessary” I complained as we entered the laundry to find Veronica cleaning up.
“How are you Mrs Nile?” she greeted mum as we entered, “and Trevor, how you doing today son?”
“Very well thank you.”
“Is there anything urgent for me to do for you today Mrs Nile?” Veronica asked, and when I opened my mouth to speak, mum cut me off.
“Don’t you worry yourself too much today,” mum replied, “You do whatever you can and Trevor will take care of the rest.”
I could feel large pebbles suddenly grow in my stomach as she held me by my collar and walked me to the living room. She produced a ‘things to do list’ for the day and handed it to me. I looked at it and the top-10 items on the list were bills.
“The cheques are in the bottom drawer of my table. If you get lost just gives me a buzz” she said softly.
“Oh dear,” I mumbled and drop onto the couch in dissatisfaction.
“I’ll see you in the afternoon” she said and walked out of the front door.
I lifted myself up grumpily, walked into the kitchen, made myself a hot cup of tea and grabbed a cracker before strolling up the stairs to my room.
I had expected mum to lend me some money, but she didn’t. I placed the list in front of me and studied it as I sipped my tea and nibbled on a cracker. This would be my first time to handle such a complicated assignment from mum and I was nervous.
Mum and dad separated when I was only four months old and after that it had always been mum and Veronica in my life. I could hardly remember a time when she missed an event in my life, she had always been there.
I recalled a time in fifth grade when I got into a fight. The principal called her into his office and she stood up for me. I felt guilty at my attitude towards her as I stared at the list and decided this was going to be the day I would make up for all my arrogance and mischief.
Just as I began to look through the bills, fear and astonishment struck me as I realized that the medical bills outnumbered our household bills. I could not swallow. I felt a huge lump in my throat and my breathing got louder.
“How come I was not aware of what she was going through?” I questioned myself.
That explained why she had transformed massively from a hard headed woman to a softer, more loving and patient person. I could hardly control the questions that were popping into my head one after another.
My mother had been sick all along and I did not know until now. I raced to her drawer and pulled out the envelope containing the cheques. Then the phone rang.
“Can I be transferred to Mr Trevor Nile immediately?” the female voice said.
“This is Trevor Nile.”
“Hi Trevor, I am Dr Susan calling from Franklins Cancer Hospital.”
I could hardly breathe.
“Are you there?”
“Yes,” I finally managed to say.
“I am calling to advise you that your mum collapsed on her way to the hospital and she is in a critical condition. We need you to come right away if you can.”
I had no time to think or waste. It had all happened so suddenly.
I was not ever prepared for such a thing. I could not afford to lose my mum. She meant more than anything to me. I could not hold back the tears that were streaming from my eyes.
“I will be there right away,” I said as I hung up the phone.
I rushed to the front counter of the hospital and burbled out mum’s name, “Natalie Nile.”
The lady at the desk looked at me, made a call and said, “Please take a seat, D Susan will be with you shortly.”
I wanted to scream and grab her by the throat and tell her that I wasn’t going to wait. That my mum was dying and I had to be with her. That I had taken her for granted all this time and I wished I could just hold her in my arms and tell her that I loved her and I could not wish for another mother but her.
And if she had to be taken from me today, I would have absolutely no one left in my life. Tears streamed fiercely down my eyes as I paced back and forth in the waiting room.
I could not blame anyone for what was going on in my life. I needed strength, encouragement, peace and confidence right now. I heard someone call my name and I turned around.
“Trevor, I’m Dr Susan,” the young lady said and held out her hand to shake mine.
“Your mum just had a terrible fall and injured her skull. My team and I are trying our best to control the amount of blood loss and tissue damage that has occurred due to the accident, which is not really good for a cancer patient to have.”
I was agonised as I stood blankly and try to absorb everything that was coming out of her mouth.
“Do you have anyone else who is able to provide your mum support while she is in a coma?”
I just shook my head as I could not speak.
“Please take a sit and try to relax as much as you can before we take you to see your mum,” she said softly. “I understand this must be a very difficult situation for you, but we will try our best to help.”
I leaned my back against the cushion and tried to relax.
“This is only the beginning,” I told myself when I finally found enough courage, “and I will fight to the end no matter what, if that’s what it will take to repay my mum."