The mother's leaving coincided with the end of exams. I felt a spark of exuberance although I was physically worn out and mentally unsound after the weeks of intense mugging. It was finally over! I said bye to my friends as they hustled to the bus stop and I walked further up to flag for a taxi.

I shifted my weight as I leaned on my left foot and slouched unbecomingly. The hand was still trembling ever so slightly after the six lined papers I had used to answer the three literature questions. The handwriting was unintelligible after the third piece, but I had to keep writing, keep writing. The thoughts were faster than the hand, and I sincerely hope I'd get a decent grade seeing how much I'd suffered to get the work done in time.

I heard a faint voice calling my name as I raised the other hand to flag. I turned and glanced at the school enclosed within the walls behind me. I frowned. I was so sure I had heard someone…

"Hey!" A head popped out above the wall and I jumped. I rolled my eyes dramatically as I realized the prankster was just Ryan.

"What?" I was happy to see him, but it would do him no good to see my bleary happiness. His head would just swell big time and I'd have to tread on him hard again.

"Your mama coming home today right?" Ryan's head disappeared for a moment and popped back up with a huge bag which he threw over the wall onto the grassy patch. I sighed as he vaulted over the wall and jumped lightly on the ground.

"One day, the school office will catch you for vandalizing."

"What vandalizing?" he wrinkled his eyebrows. "I didn't vandalize…"

"Ah, never mind." I was too lazy to explain myself, and I figured my verbal intelligence was falling at a very fast rate. Better to not say anything then risk humiliation.

Ryan bent down to pick up his bag before sauntering over to my side. "Anyway, I'm here to escort you to the hospital, Natalia dearest."

I rolled my eyes. That was one part of my face that I could still use very well.

"Firstly, I'm still awake enough to not need an escort. Secondly, don't think for a moment you're getting paid. Thirdly, when was I your dearest?!" I laughed. It was a childish response but heck, it felt good.

Ryan pouted. As usual, I couldn't resist and grudgingly told him to flag for a cab. He understood that it was an unspoken invitation for him to come to the hospital with me, and his face lightened. I smirked secretly, wondering at his kiddo antics.

The brother had taken in the news of a hospitalized mum quietly and solemnly the first time I told him. I thought of his bowed head of acceptance and nodded to myself as I walked through hospital hallways. He's growing up.

"Why're you nodding?" Ryan asked with a whiny tone in his voice.

"Because I was thinking of my brother."

It was a short but effective sentence as that totally shut him up.

We arrived at the doorstep of my mother's room and I stopped. As a consequence, that Ryan, who didn't have any sense in his brain, bumped right into me hard, and pushed us both into the room. I rolled my eyes and grimaced. idiot! I had wanted to prepare myself, but now that wasn't time.

My mother was sitting on the bed, with her legs dangling over the edge and her bag beside her.


She looked up, and smiled. it was a small glimmer, and wasn't exactly what I remembered it was before she got sick, but hey it was better than nothing. this time round she appeared somewhat lucid.

"Hiya there, Mrs. S."

I walked over to her, and grabbed her bag before motioning for her to get up, and for us to get going. I then walked out in right of her, feeling just a wee bit awkward. I didn't know whether to stand beside her and help her out or to you know, sort of side way hug her and move out so I decided to walk in front. That was a safe approach. I could do that.

Ryan passed by me, with my mum's hand engulfed in his as I opened the door. I sighed in relief. That was right. Ryan would always do those sweet things I had thought of but never dared to deem myself important enough to do.

It was a relatively silent journey back home in the hired cab and we were all submerged in our own thoughts. I didn't know about the other two and the driver, but I was thinking. Now that exams were over, and the mother was well, I figured I could take a breather. Relax around the house for a few days; try to work on my latest song, and all that crap. School didn't mark attendance after exams, and I had no deep-seated urge to go school and waste my time.

I was on my window seat with Whiney beside me when the door opened. I looked around, disturbed.

It was Billy, his head peeking into the room.


Billy slowly let show his body and stood right beside the door and stared at me, worry evident in his brown eyes.

"Mum's refusing her meds." He didn't bother with the word 'again' but I could hear him thinking it.

I rolled my eyes and sighed. There was no chance of working now.

I walked over to my brother and slung my arm around him as we walked out of my room. Whiney whined as he tottered out with us. I glanced down at my right, and smiled. Yeah, he was a faithful companion alright.

"C'mon, let's rock and roll."

It was only a couple of days since my mother came home, but it was apparent she was up to her old tricks again. I didn't know whether to laugh at the repeats, or to cry. The father had been notified, but he was taking his own sweet time coming home. Well, I guess if it was me, I would have taken my time too.


We marched over to the parents' bedroom – an uncommon sight anywhere – Billy by my left, and Whiney walking stately by my right. Billy was the official care bear of my mother, giving her medicine, and generally being close to her. I grimaced. Heck, why was the job his?

'Because you didn't want to do it,' a voice echoed in my mind. Yeah, I didn't want to do that lousy excuse of a job because it wasn't my responsibility anyway.



She was lying on her big bed, her head positioned away from the door. Billy, Whiney and I stood at the threshold, our shadows towering over us as it crept over the room and over the bed.

She wasn't answering.


I could feel the irritation seeping away, and anger taking its place. Billy looked up at me, his brown eyes filled with worry. I squeezed his scrawny shoulder lightly. It was rare that my little brother approached me for help, and I would definitely do my best in aiding him.

"Where are the pills?" I mouthed to Billy. He looked confused for a moment before comprehension, and pointed to the drawer beside Mum's bed. I walked over and took out the packet before taking out the two pills she had to take for the night and pouring some water for her.

"C'mon Mum," I shook her shoulder lightly.

Her head turned to look at me. The close proximity jolted me, as I stared into her faded faraway eyes. Eyes I could never understand, I thought to myself. I doubt she could even see me.

So I tried again.

"Mum? Please, you've got to take the medicine. Doc says you gotta. Please Mum?" A hint of desperation had entered my voice, and I hated it. I hated how I had to beg my mum to take care of herself. Billy stood by my side, shaking a little. I knew it scared him, it scared him how our mother had changed into over the years. She was no longer the person we knew.

I took her hand and tried to place the medicine in her palm. But her hand laid limply on the bed after I had let go, as though it was devoid of muscle. I looked at her sharply, and this time, this time she was looking back.


Anger was mounting, together with the impression that I could do nothing. My heart felt heavier and heavier within the body as time ticked by. Billy faded. It was just my mum and I, and we were locked in a battle of wills.

I didn't want to lose.

"Eat it. Now."

She blinked, and the faraway look appeared in her eyes. She blinked again, and sighed, as though tired after our brief encounter. She brought her hand weakly towards her and gulped down the pills before taking a sip of the water slowly. She did this all, and when she was done, laid further down on the bed and turned her head away.

I shrugged – my anger had drained away the moment she ate the pills and turned to look at my brother. He was staring at me, with worshipful eyes. He mouthed thanks as I turned sharply and walked out of the depressing room.

My eyelids drooped, and my legs felt like lead. I was very tired, as if I had been running the whole day. But it was just one encounter with my mother lasting all of five minutes.

So I did what I always did – I stomped back into my bedroom and slept.

Hi! This is a short update, because I figured I dragged uploading this chapter for quite awhile already. I'm bogged down with school, work, nano, church and this. I need time management! Okay, this is not the time to rant. Hee.

Thanks everyone, for the reviews! It made my day! To comic suicide, killerchipmunk, lastdayofmylife, twilight starr, eire !

Okay everyone, REVIEW:)