Grey. That’s what I get in the afterlife.
Grey walls, grey bed, grey sheets. Concrete and steel. Pain and a rattling chest. Burning back. Dizziness. Nausea.
What the hell?
I look around a bit more. Try to get my bearings. I’m in a grey room. Small. Well not that small I guess. It’s maybe two of my bedrooms. It looks like a prison. Maybe less crowded than that. There’s one bed. The one I’m lying on covered in a grey blanket. The room is concrete. Really concrete. Ceiling, floor, walls. Stainless steel toilet. Screws sticking out of the wall. Scrape marks. The stench of bleach and exhaust. A low humming from the long, bare, florescent light.
Seriously, what the hell?
Where’s the white? Where’s the angles? Where’s the freaking harps?
What if I’m still alive?
Oh, my god! What if I’m still alive!
Panic squeezes my chest. Panic. I’m in a grey room. Pain searing through every bone. Throbbing in the centre of my back like a blade pushed in and pulled out with every breath. And all I can think about is, Mom.
No. We’re not close. Maybe that’s why this grey room. This pain. This . . . it’s all a problem.
Mom and I fight. We fight about how useless I am. How controlling she is. How I can never please her. How she drove Dad away. How I drove Dad away. How stupid my life is and it’s all her fault. We fight about my homework not getting done. My grades. My attitude. About how the cops have brought me home for stupid things. We fight when the dishes aren’t done. When her check doesn’t cover food for a month. When I steal food. Or gas. Or clothes. We fight and yell and curse. She slaps me. I, yeah, I’ve hit her too.
I know. I suck.
I’m a terrible son.
But through it all, I’ve always come home. Always walked in the door. Slept in my bed. Had breakfast at the table. Even if I have yet to make a curfew. Ever.
I’ve always been there – until that last fight. The fight before the zoo trip. The city wide biology class field trip for high school and university students. It was supposed to encourage us in the field of biology. Morning didn’t go well. That’s an understatement.
I brought up Dad. The screaming must have echoed through the entire apartment complex. I’m surprised the cops weren’t called. We swore at each other. She said some really bad things. I one upped everything.
Then I said the worst thing I could think of.
The thing that would hurt her the worst.
Stab her through her little icy heart.
“I’m leaving. Forever.”
She stopped. Her glare melting to fear.
“No,” she whispered.
“I have the money. Lots of it. I’m out of here.”
“I don’t need you anymore. I don’t need anyone. Goodbye.”
“Alex.” It was more of a gasp than a word. “Alex.”
“I hate you.”
And I slammed the door.
I had the money. Like I said. Unfortunately it wasn’t mine. Not one cent. It was Mac’s and he found his way to get it back.