Empty Vessel


Tiny - Posted on 15 April 2014

Author: 
Felix Chico

April 15, 2014

The bedroom is a refuge, its walls boasting photographs of a young life as it unfolded. Little league, first communion, high school prom. A SWAT team had violated its sanctuary immediately after the shooting, looking for something to validate the police officer’s version of events. Sage and prayer restored purity to the room.

Her mood melancholy, she sinks wearily into the rocking chair. Melancholy is the best she can hope for, its implicit gloom and sadness preferable to the clutches of infinite emptiness which overwhelm one’s defenses and tear at the soul.

Abruptly a desperate emptiness floods her being. Time has not eased the mother’s loss, nor has it softened the weight upon her heart. She whispers his name, sliding off the chair onto her knees as if to pray, arms supporting her weight as she sinks to all fours.

“No no no, oh God noooo, sweet Jesus no, oh God no”.
The mothers arms weaken and she pitches forward, shrieking her son’s name, clawing at the rug as nails break off at the quick. A final scream then dissolution into weeping and moaning.

Becoming aware that minutes or possibly hours have passed, she swipes at the tears and snot and spittle streaking her face and rises to her feet. Leaning against a doorjamb, she crosses herself and asks Him for the strength to get thru another day.

Face washed, makeup lightly applied, hair tied back, the mother gazes at her reflection and is struck by deja vu. Something about her eyes. She rarely looks at herself, idly wondering if her eyes always have that look now.

The sun was alone in a cloudless sky, it’s rays warming a mother who sat in a park, also alone. Near her feet a ladybug with missing legs slowly and painfully dragged itself in a circle. Regarding the creature with both pity and empathy, she speaks down to it softly. “just like me, poor baby. Just like me“. A thin finger rests upon its wing cover, lingers, absorbs its pain, ends its suffering. Squatting, the mother scoops dirt over the tiny creature then with a fingernail scratches a cross alongside.

That night she dreams of a sun alone in a cloudless sky, it’s rays warming her back. In the dream is a damaged ladybug, dragging itself in a circle. She picks it up, crying as she speaks to it of her son. Her tears wash over it’s broken wing covering, cascading slowly off to become new legs. The mother watches it take flight.

The bedroom is a refuge, its closets filled with his clothing and memorabilia, a nightstand contains keepsakes and writings and pictures too sensitive or precious to hang on the walls. Sage and prayer maintain its pristine spirituality.

Her mood desolate, she sinks wearily into the rocking chair. Desolation is preferable to the clutches of infinite emptiness which overwhelm one’s defenses and tear at the soul.

Recalling the previous morning’s encounter with deja vu, she reaches inside the nightstand drawer for an envelope and extracts a photograph – their last picture together. His cheek had been so cold against hers. The look in her eyes was haunted, ghastly. She recalls looking up at the camera, instinctively starting to smile then grasping that she would never have reason to smile again. She had become like he was, she had become what she had clung to in the photograph, she too was an empty vessel.


(The exquisite painting ‘A Response to a Distant Echo of Pain‘ is by Rowan Newton, his website is here: http://rowannewton.co.uk/artworks/ )

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