Drawn to You: Volume 2

By: Vanessa Booke

I’m a fucking mess. No, I’m a traitor.

I’m a traitor who’s wearing a borrowed five-hundred-dollar suit to his mother’s funeral. His mother who died penniless and alone. Who am I? I woke this morning asking myself that same question over and over. A feeling of suffocation overwhelms me as I tear off the jacket of my suit and tie, flinging them to the ground. My lungs burn from running, but the feeling doesn’t compare to the pain that rips through the rest of my chest as I get closer and closer to where her remains rest.

“There you are,” says a voice calling out to me from behind.

I turn to find my old co-worker, Vivian, standing in front of me.

“What happened to you?” she asks. “Did you lose your jacket?”

“Something like that,” I mutter.

I haven’t spoken to Vivian in quite a while, and yet she’s the only person I could think of to be here. The only person who would let me borrow money to cremate my mother. After calling the funeral director at a nearby funeral home, I quickly realized burying my mother would be out of the question. Where the hell was I supposed to get $7,000? While I’m starting to get more customers from the Pleasure Chest, the amount I make is nowhere near the money I needed. There wasn’t a chance in hell I would ask Stefan for the money either. It’s better that he doesn’t know my mother has been alive all of this time. He doesn’t get to have closure. My mother never did.

“Here,” Vivian says, offering space for me to step beside her under the large umbrella.

Rain drips down the side of the umbrella-like water gushing from a spout. God, I hope she hasn’t been here long. From her damp appearance, I can only guess she has. I take a step forward and approach the ever-daunting wall of names in front of the columbarium where they’ve placed the ashes of my mother. Vivian pushes back her black waves as she stares at the pattern of memorial plaques in front of her with a thoughtful expression.

“Thank you for coming,” I say.

“I’m glad you finally called me. I was wondering if the city swallowed you up.”

“Believe me, sometimes it feels like it.”

She lays her hand on my shoulder and squeezes it lightly before returning her gaze to the wall in front of us. Rainwater washes over me, baptizing me in its cold sensation as I close my eyes and imagine what life would be like if the rain could really wash away our sins. If only we could all be forgiven so easily. I open my eyes as I feel a tap on my shoulder. To my surprise, I find Vivian staring at me with tears in her eyes. Since I’ve known Vivian, she’s never shown a shred of weakness. If I didn’t know any better, I would say she’s the reason why people use the expression ‘tough as nails.‘

“I have something for your mother,” she says.

My heart skips as I watch Vivian pull a small bouquet of roses from the wet plastic bag on her arm. Their beautiful pink hues match perfectly with the plaque for my mother’s ashes. The flowers are delicately beautiful. A description once so aptly described my mother.

“I thought it would be nice to bring her some flowers.”

“Thank you,” I manage to say.

Despite the sea of names, it isn’t hard to pick out my mother’s memorial plaque. Hers seems to be the only one with a rose pink tint and gold lettering.

Rosaline Isabella Knight.

It’s surreal to see my mother’s name among the rest of the city’s dead, and it takes every fiber of my being not to break down in tears at the sight of it. The bitterness I feel toward Stefan has consumed me since I learned of my mother’s passing. It’s all I’ve thought about. I know she committed suicide because she thought she had no one left, but I never expected her to feel that hopeless. It doesn’t matter which way I spin this—Stefan will always be partly to blame. He took everything from me and from her. My eyes trace the hundreds of other plaques that sit abandoned beside hers. The surrounding flowers are dry and brittle. I’m almost certain they would come apart at the slightest touch, and for some reason, the thought of my mother’s ashes sitting here next to them eats away at me.

It seems even in death, my mother’s life has been reduced to just another name on a wall.

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