Tuesday, January 1, 2013

"The Green Man"

I stood by her bed when she talked, day in and day out. My mother had been a strong woman, but the day had finally come when she'd been out gardening and she swore she saw a man made of leaves and flowers.

I told my son that it was natural. We didn't have a history of Alzheimer's, but sometimes you got unlucky. It wasn't a fun talk for him, but he's a good kid and he accepted it without much trouble.

I'd go visit her every day, too. She'd insist that she was fine, and we'd talk. I worked hard at keeping mentions of the plant-man at a minimum. The garden grew lusher than ever, and I supposed she was just perfecting her masterpiece while she still could.

Eventually she started forgetting things. It was weird, but reading went first. She'd never been a bookworm of a woman, but she kept a few favorite volumes lying around her house, and a couple of times she tried to flip through one, and she didn't understand a word. I tried to teach her the alphabet again, but it was just gone.

She kept saying she saw the green man wandering around outside, that he would stand in her garden. She kept saying this until she lost speech.

We hired an expert, a nice woman who said she could use pictures to help us communicate. FOOD. SLEEP. BATHROOM. YES. NO. and so on. She worked well enough for a while, but then the day came that my mother stopped using silverware and stopped understanding pictures and began to frustratedly gnaw on the one with a picture of FOOD on it.

She was moved to a hospital when she tried to attack me. Her nails hadn't been trimmed in a while, and she didn't recognize me. I could tell it in her eyes.

I sold her house a few weeks later to pay for her treatments, but on my last look around while I was saying goodbye to the old place, I saw that the garden was growing lusher than ever.

Every time I went to see her, my son and my wife wanted to be there with me, but I refused. I wanted them to remember her for all the great things she'd done and not for this. The doctors were considering putting her under, like a dog. They'd strapped her to a table and she just thrashed and screamed every day. Her hair was growing out too long, her body becoming frailer, but they fed her regularly and well. Her eyes grew sunken and her jaw began to jut.

One day I came in and I didn't see my mother but a spindly thing, squirming at the straps which had to be tightened further and further.

And one day, before I could go to see her strapped to her table in her enclosed cell, I heard the scream change. It fluctuated, higher and higher and then deeper before becoming... primordial.

They wouldn't let me see her body as they took her to the morgue, but her covered table was dripping with clear slime which pooled at the tiled floor in tiny puddles which shifted slightly in various directions. Then they seemed to dissipate, and the hall was empty.

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