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As I may have mentioned before, I am a huge fan of cruises. Although I haven't gone on one yet this year, I usually go on at least one or two every year. Where the cruise actually goes is wholly unimportant to me. Half the time I sleep through the stops anyway, and just stay on the boat. I just like having no cell phone, having great food available 24/7, and sitting on the back of the boat watching the waves.

It takes a certain type of person to enjoy a cruise. Usually that person is an old person. My friend Jonah and I are the two exceptions. I think we've gone on two cruises together, and each time we were the only people remotely close to our age. So much for meeting the hot ladies pirate-style.

On one such cruise we woke up at our usual time - 3pm. The boat was docked in Mexico, and was leaving at 5:30, meaning that everyone had to be on the boat at 5.

"Mother's Hand"

On Wellington Street

“I didn't like the sound. That noise my mom made when she would try to breathe. It was like a moan, like the sound someone makes when they were having a bad dream. But she was awake. She looked so tired. My dad was just sitting there in the chair next to her. His eyes were burning like coals. She was crying as she breathed, her body shaking with each inhale, her knuckles white as she gripped the side of the bed. My dad didn't say anything, but he looked really upset. I think he was crying...He stood up and turned off the light that was next to my mom. The room got dark, but I could see my dad leave down the hall.

It was really dark, but I could see my mom because the light of the streetlamps out the window. She kept shaking, her breathing becoming worse. It was grating, and didn't really keep any pattern. I walked over to her, but stopped when I was a few feet away. She looked down at me, and I could see that she was mouthing something too me. I couldn't make it out, and I asked her to speak up. Instead, she reached out her hand to me. I took it, but I didn't like it. It was cold and damp with sweat.

I heard my dad come back into the room. He had a pillow and a rope. I looked back to my mom, but she had coals where her eyes should be. I asked her to close them, that she was scaring me. She wouldn't, just kept staring at me. I tried to shut them myself, but my dad grabbed me. He told me to sit by the wall and not move at all. There was ribbon on the floor. My birthday was earlier that week. We hadn't cleaned it up.

I remember an old family tradition we used to have around Christmas. We would open our presents, listening to an old record my dad had of holiday music. But at a certain point, soon after we had opened our gifts, my dad would excuse himself. He would return after a few seconds, bearing a gift for Mom. There would be a red bow on the box, and after she finished opening it he would place it on top of her head. She would smile then, and they would kiss. Looking back I don't think the present mattered. But I knew I missed her smile.

Dad was saying something to my mom. She didn't seem to be listening. She just looked at me, not blinking. Dad leaned over her and kissed her on the cheek. Then he took the pillow and he placed it over her face...She was thrashing around, and I could hear her making an awful noise. Even under the pillow I could hear her wheezing. I felt like I couldn't breathe too. It felt like there was a knot in my throat. I told my dad to stop, but he wouldn't listen. I wanted to move, but I...I was scared...

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