I woke up with a monstrous headache, and my stomach felt like it might erupt at any second. I was in my bed, fully dressed, and my mouth tasted like I had been eating rotten chicken for most of the night.
My mom was standing at the foot of my bed, looking at me. “How you doing?” She asked.
“Better than I’ll be doing in a couple of weeks.” My mom didn’t really like to talk about the images and scenes that we saw. On one hand, I didn’t really blame her—I mean, everything I saw in the future generally sucked. On the other hand, I had experienced life in a way that almost nobody else had. Think about all the things you had to ask your mother about while growing up. I don’t know what those things would be, exactly, but I’m sure you do, and I want you to think about them.
None of that crap really mattered to me. I just wanted to know why I was seeing visions of hell on earth. And she wasn’t there for me…ever. I’m not one of these people who walk around talking about how their parents let them down, but if I was, I feel I would be pretty justified. I saw the world end, and my mom wouldn’t even allow me to mention it.
“You been seeing things?”
“I guess you could say that,” I told her.
She started laughing. Not a little laugh, either. She laughed long and hard, she laughed like she meant it. When she finally had the breath to speak again, she asked, “Did you see the clowns?”
“Yeah, I saw the clowns.” I didn’t see what was so funny, except for maybe the irony, if you were into that kind of thing.
“Oh, those clowns. They kill me every time.” She was still laughing, hard, but I wondered about her choice of words.
“Yeah, that’s a real hoot, the world ending because some clowns don’t understand to stop, drop, and roll.”
Her laughter tapered off. She wiped a tear out from under her eye, she had been laughing that hard, that tears were coming out of her eyes. “I wonder if you’ll ever get it. You were such a bright little boy, I didn’t think it would be a problem, but you lost that knowledge somewhere. What happened to you, darlin’?”
“I guess the future happened.”
“Maybe so. Maybe so. I dated one of those guys. The third clown to get out of the car, his name was Brad Newberry, and I let him feel me up once. His hands felt all hot and dumb, though, so I made him stop.”
I knew the clown she was talking about. He was one of the first to die. “Must be weird, knowing that he’s going to die, doing nothing to stop it.”
“Doesn’t feel weird at all. Try getting my age, sonny jim. See if maybe you don’t learn to stop second-guessing yourself.”
“You know where it’s at, don’t you?” Being physic, you still don’t know everything. I didn’t know where the end of the world started, and I didn’t know (until that moment) that my mother knew exactly where it started. “You know right where it’s going to happen, and you aren’t going to do anything about it!”
“Yeah, baby, I know where it’s going to start. I know a lot more than you, including the fact that there’s nothing you can do to change it. It’s the future. Just because you know it, that doesn’t mean it’s yours to control.” She smiled a really sad smile, and kissed me on the forehead. I tried to speak, but she put her finger on my lips. “I love you,” she said. “Never doubt that.” She stood up straight, looked around at my room, and smiled. “Here,” she said, and tossed a few envelopes onto my bed. “You’ll know when to open them.”
And then she turned around and walked out of my bedroom. I’m not sure I would have followed her if I had been able to see where she was going. Just because you can see the future, that doesn’t mean it’s yours to control. I just sat on my bed, looking at the stack of envelopes she had tossed to me, all held together by two green rubberbands.
While I stared at the pile of envelopes, my mother walked silently down the hall, down the steps, out the front door, and out of my life forever.