Sesame Seed: Chapter Five.

by | Aug 29, 2023 | Uncategorized | 0 comments

A red globule of blood formed underneath his thumb and trickled down the broken glass of the screen.

Tony closed his eyes tight. The vision of the two women on his phone merged together. Tighter. They exploded in a fireworks display on his retinas and his head throbbed. He got up from the toilet seat and entered the landing. Turning slowly through three hundred and sixty degrees, he assessed his life in the form of the five doors that surrounded him.

The bathroom was just renovated a month before Marie’s suicide.

Susan’s room, his eldest daughter and provider of their two grandsons. Still living less than a mile from this spot.

Jack’s room, Tony’s source of pride. Still single at twenty and starting a new job in software development when his mum left them.

The main bedroom, somewhere he’d avoided since the funeral. He couldn’t bring himself to enter the place he’d found her.

Elsie’s room, their baby, and away at university in Durham, her first term, marred by the loss of her mother.

Tony had spent six months languishing in the big old house, the one they had shared for a quarter of a century, a virtual prisoner to the two rooms he occupied, Elsie’s bedroom and the front lounge, with occasional forays to the bathroom and kitchen. The house phone would ring from time to time but he ignored it. Visitors were few and far between discouraged from returning by his lack of hospitality. Even his friends had given up on him, except Alan.

Suddenly, the mobile rang in the small bedroom. Tony entered and reluctantly picked it up from the duvet. His reticence was a combination of avoidance of callers and the last image he’d seen on the screen. The number displayed had a +974 prefix. He was about to throw it back on the bed but something stopped him. He tapped the answer disc on the screen and held the phone silently to his ear.

“Hello? Is that you, boss?”. The voice was unmistakable, booming down the line like a Greek railway station announcer. It was Tony’s former colleague and protege, Demetrius. His heart gave a little jump at the sound of the young man’s Mediterranean tones as memories of their time together flooded back. These were instantly replaced by a sickly dread as Tony realised that the young Greek was blissfully unaware of recent events.

“Hey, boss. Are you there? I can hear you  breathing man, what’s wrong, you tosspot?” This made-up English semi-profanity was favourite word and he owned it.

“Dem? Demitri? Is that you? My God, how are you? How long is it?” Tears pricked the corners of Tony’s eyes.

“Two years Tony. Two whole years and not a single call. How are you? How is your beautiful family?” Dem replied.

“I’m good. How are you? What is the code? Dubai? Saudi?” Tony enquired desperately trying to find a way to tell this loud, boisterous extremely sensitive boy about his tragedy. The young man had a soft spot for Marie the size of the island of Kos.

“Qatar Tony, I have a family now, a boy. One year old and the image of his father, lucky guy,” Dem gushed proudly.

“That’s incredible. How’s Vasilia? All good? I bet she’s so proud, I bet you both are.” The tears flowed now and Tony sniffed loudly.

“Hey, boss, this is a happy occasion. Are you crying? Tears of joy I hope,” the young Greek continued after a short silence and more nasal sounds from Tony, “you are OK mate, right?”

“Dem I’ve got something to tell you” Tony interrupted.

“What, you finally going to get a proper job, you lazy asshole?” Dem responded with more laughter, Tony struggled to keep it together.

“The Environment Agency was – is a proper job. No, that’s not it Dem. I have some news, bad news. Marie passed away,” Tony shouted into the handset. Silence.

“Wh-what? Who’s dead? What are you saying? You’re not making sense.” Dem’s words picked at the scab of Tony’s recent wound.

“She’s dead. Marie took her own life.” Fresh blood seeped from the dry mass of his grief and he collapsed on the side of the bed, “she was ill son, very ill, mentally.” Tony eased his head back onto the pillow.

The ensuing silence was torture for Tony but the pain ratcheted up a notch as the muffled sounds of crying emerged from it.

“This can’t be true, Tony. What do you mean ill?” Dem’s voice was cracking with raw emotion. He wore his heart on his sleeve and Tony expected the whole nine yards of Greek tragedy.

“Listen, son. I know this is a shock. Marie had been unwell for a long time but kept it hidden. Do you need some time? You can ring me back later.” Tony closed his already sore eyes and squeezed out his own tears. Was there no end to this torment?

“Yes, erm yes boss. I’ll go now and call back another time. I am so sorry. Please accept my condolences.” Click, then the dialling tone. Tony opened his eyes and stared at the screen. The notification was still there. He imagined what the young man was feeling now. The empathy was overpowering. He lifted his arm and threw the phone at the wall. It shattered, the pieces littering the floor. He gave in to the nauseating waves of grief in all of their manifestations again. Surrounded by undefeated enemies like the last minutes of a siege.

Inspecting the unrecognisable mass that was the largest piece of the broken handset, Tony rued the temper that grief had gifted him. An emotion that he’d never owned and never been prepared for. Regret was always its follower like a sad, wet dog after a long walk. Here it was panting by his side as he held up the shattered screen. A red globule of blood formed underneath his thumb and trickled down the broken glass of the screen.

Tony knew that Dem would ring back when the news had sunk in. He had that curiosity abundant in folks of his region. You could never hint at something without going into an exhaustive explanation of the facts. There was only one thing for it, the SIM card. He had to salvage it and find an old phone. Then his heart sank. He had two old Sony handsets, almost definitely flat. However, they were in the master bedroom.

Chapter Six

Tony gripped the wreckage and pulled it to his chest. Blood smeared on his shirt and he felt the sharp stab of pain. There was a battle going on in his head…

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