The dust, which settled months previous, moved as he exhaled a gust of air. The mantelpiece was old, older than him, older than he could imagine and appreciate. He’d lived in this house for many, many years and, being honest with himself, he’d missed this place despite spending far more years living elsewhere. This was his childhood, the place that helped form the person that he was right at this very second. He smiled, looking around the room, remembering so many memories. Then, from nowhere, the sadness arrived.
No-one was immortal, despite many wishing to be just that, as time eventually managed to find each and every single one of us. The dust, visible from the dim light shining through a gap in the curtains, descended to once again take its place on any surface possible. This place, this very moment, held him despite the immense inner turmoil. Nothing, or no-one, could ever resolve the feelings and thoughts, but this place, thankfully, was a start.
He’d tried, he had truly tried, to escape the moments but that could never actually happen. He’d surrounded himself with loved ones, evaded everyone that cared, destroyed the very saviours that held him tight and worse, he’d allowed himself to fail at so many, many things. He knew that it was going to happen, as it happened to each and every single person, but no instruction manual, no amount of kisses or tenderness, could ever fill the hole within his very heart. He’d often wonder how he could drag himself out of bed in the morning but, as is the way of things, that simply wouldn't do as life always, always, carried on. With him, or without him, he would have to move forward at some point.
Feeling the emotion take control he simply chose to ignore the feelings, hold them, then remove them from his mind. He did wonder how this would effect his heart, his very sanity, but this action ensured that he could carry on. Maybe he was lying to himself. Better a lie than to let his life burn to the ground. Either way, one day, he’d have to face all of this. Face it. No running away, no fading memories, standing to finally embrace the way he felt. Maybe, just maybe, being in this place at this very second was the start of something. He hoped so. He truly did.
He walked over to the wall, by the door that led to the stairs and front door, looking through to where the phone used to sit. A few steps later he opened the cabinet of the old wooden furniture. He knew that his Mother didn't own a lot, never wanting a lot within this world, but she did like what she liked. Within the cabinet sat the old phone with the rotary dial, the ancient phone that the next generation would laugh at, but this was part of the family.
A few second later he sat on the stairs, plugging in the phone, knowing that it wouldn’t work as the line had been disconnected many years previous. The nostalgia rose within him. Not only did you have to know the number, you had to wait for the dial to return to the start. A small laugh arose from within and, as he laughed, he picked up the receiver to hear silence. “Hello,” said a voice on the other end, “How are you?” He paused, his heart beat instantly rising as his mind struggled to comprehend. Initially he thought that he was day dreaming but something, from somewhere, pushed him to answer,
“Who else has my voice?” replied the person at the other side.
He didn't understand as, being honest with himself, he didn't care. He’d longed to hear his Mother’s voice again. Even if it were for a brief few seconds. The Irish twang, the tone of her voice, the very words that she would say. “Is this really you?” he asked, not wanting to sound offensive even though a part of him supposed that this was a joke. Something which, he also knew, wouldn't happen. His head span, thoughts crashing, not knowing what else to say.
“Of course it is me. How are you doing?”
“I’m okay Mum!” He said the words and, within him, something broke. He felt the emotion hit his chest, his mind letting go, which resulted in tears. Deep, hidden, strong tears that had waited for such a long time to appear. If his heart wasn’t already broken it would be now, “I’ve missed you. So much and I’m sorry.”
“What for,” she replied with confusion, “You’ve nothing to be sorry for!”
The tears fell as his heart poured from within him, “I’m sorry for not answering the phone or calling back. I…” His Mother interrupted,
“You had your own life Son, you did call back. You did visit. That’s all that matters!”
He could hear the love from her voice, echoing with every single word, wanting to hold her hand once more. He also felt the intense loss, the guilt, realising that although he loved he could have done more, been more, but life was life. Instead of seeing a friend, he saw his Mother as just that, his Mother. Only when it’s too late did he realise that so much more could have been done. Could have been experienced. The realisation arrived far, far too late.
“I’m proud of you, my blue eyed boy,” she said, her voice now breaking, allowing the emotion to break her resolve, “I miss you.”
“I miss you too Mum, I miss you so much!”
Then, with no warning, the connection dropped, “Hello, Mum, Hello?” She was gone. The seconds afforded to him, done, over with. He held the phone to his ear, the tears paused, hoping, asking whomever, within his head, for a few more seconds, until the realisation eased into his mind. He closed his eyes and cried. If his heart could bleed it would have at that very second. Replacing the receiver he placed his head onto the floor and curled into a ball. Her voice was love, to him, the most precious of sound he could ever hear. He wanted to scream but, instead, he continued to cry. He knew, deep down, that he’d meet her again. One day.
Picking himself up from the floor, rubbing his eyes, he opened the front door to see his Wife and Children waiting for him in the garden. The cycle of life, the knowledge of the future within him, the ending we would all face, filled him with strength despite feeling weaker than he’d felt for months. He didn't care that the last few minutes were impossible, maybe even just a day dream or moment of madness, as it had happened. Despite the words, despite the moment, he still wished that he’d done more, been more, but that could be paid forward to his own Family every single day.
No matter what happened, no matter the distance, the moment that he was within, he knew that he’d, at the very least, make that phone call. He had no excuses.