Karim woke up the next day refusing to open his eyes. He stayed in bed till well after noon. He curled in the sheets hiding the light from penetrating his wake. He desired nothing more than to stay in bed, as the world passed him, slowly consuming the remainder of his life. At that moment, he wanted to lie in the shadows, allowing time to elapse him. Tomorrow he would rise, would leave bed, he would think and react. Tomorrow he would feel, he would hurt and he would face the mockery of the world. Tomorrow, Karim would wake.
But he could not help his mind chasing him with ideas infiltrating his consciousness. There was no way to shut off the memories that were so near yet seemed so distant. So much had happened in the past 24 hours that he deemed it impossible to fit in such time-span. It was only yesterday since he was discharged from the hospital, only yesterday that he’d met Karen, been hit by his father, and discovered the horrible secret that lurked in the depth of his family’s chest of wonders. His mother was a cheater. His father was just like him: a victim, and he’d hated him for all the wrong reasons. . It was such a curious thing, time. The moments you dread seem to stretch on, dragging the burdens and shackles, while all you desire is to bury them with sleep.
The more he thought and remembered the more he felt himself falling into the spiral of madness. So he got up, kept the curtains drawn shut, opened his laptop and started writing again. And as he wrote, like always, the world slipped away, and his burdens were those of his characters’. His life no longer mattered, for he was creating new lives that eventually would be self-sufficient and live out their own destiny.
The hours dragged on while Karim was lost in his escapist mind, until he felt the need to go to the bathroom. To do so, he would have to leave the confinement of his room, into the house where the guilty eyes of his mother would stare at him, where he will have to feel her presence, weighing his heart heavy into reality. He stood up and opened his door, slowly, as to not make a noise. But as he stepped out of his room, he felt an unusual silence. It seemed as though no one was in the house. He felt relieved as he crossed into the bathroom, but on his way back, he heard the faintest hint of a sound. He froze in his place, listening intently. The sound came from his mother’s bedroom. The door was shut, so he stood outside and put his ear carefully listening. His heart raced of guilt and of anger. He heard her clearly. He heard the voice that made him shiver, that made his knees tremble and the sky to collapse. He heard his mother cry.
Fighting against himself, he walked away from the door. He was too angry to console her. She deserved it, but somehow he could not forgive himself at being angry at her. Even though she was the one who disappointed him, she was the villain, he felt himself guilty at her tears. He felt that maybe, just maybe he could stop them. But his anger held him back. His anger made him go back to his room, lock his door, sit at his desk, and lose himself in the story he was building.
The next few days were filled with awkward moments, where the family members avoided each other’s eyes and presence. Karim’s mother would stay in bed, drowning in her guilty tears; his father would come home to ghosts swarming and filling the air with sickening silence and disappointment. And Karim, well, all he did was stay in his room and write.
Karen kept calling, and his friends kept checking on him. They knew and understood to give him his space when he needed it. And as his anger subsided, he felt himself rejecting the world completely, shutting himself further into the solitude of his room. While chemotherapy was scheduled to start a week after he was discharged, he no longer felt sure he wanted to go through with it at all. What was the point really? Karen almost begged him on a daily basis to go out, change his mood, try to recover from the emotional trauma he’s been through, but Karim would always say: Tomorrow.
The first chemotherapy session was one day away when he heard banging on his door. He was caught up in his writing when he awoke with a start. He opened the door, to see his two best friends whom he hadn’t seen for the past week standing there.
“Hey guys, what are you doing here?” Karim was surprised they had come unannounced.
“What are YOU doing here?” Said Samer, whom he had known for all his life. “Get your ass ready, we’re going out.”
“What? No, I have some work to finish up. I’m almost done with the first part—“
“Really, Karim? Do we look like we’re about to walk out? Your first chemotherapy session is tomorrow. Tonight, we drink.” Mahmoud interrupted. “The others are waiting at Speakeasy. Get dressed.”
Karim dressed reluctantly, he’d been in his room for so long, he’d forgotten the world even existed. But he knew deep inside that he owed this to his friends. They’d been so patient with him for the last few weeks, they’ve been supportive and understanding, it was the least he could do to at least try pay them back.
When they got to Speakeasy, every one of Karim’s closest friends was there. Karen was among them. And when he saw their smiling faces, he felt as though some sort of frost was melting somewhere on the inside.
He hugged every one of them, and they told him how much they’d missed him, and Karim realized he had missed them as well. Their faces were filed with genuine pleasure, and affection for him. Their smiles were as brightly as he’d remembered. Smiles full of optimism and love for life and its smallest pleasures. He sat next to Karen and put his arms around her. Her body draining the cold from his heart filling him with a tingly sensation of comfort and ease. He kissed her on the lips and his pains faded as he remembered how sweet her lips tasted. He watched his friends jumping and dancing and drinking as if there was no tomorrow, and halfway through his second drink, he felt he wanted to join them in celebrating life. He laughed until his ribs were aching, danced until his feet were sore, and kissed until his heart almost burst. He forgot every pain and every ache, and for the first time in what seemed like a very long time, he allowed himself to feel good, and the faintest feeling of happiness began to slowly return, and the idea started to make sense to him: that it does get better. Tomorrow would be a good day. Tomorrow he would smile, he would laugh and he would dance. Tomorrow, he would face the unknown. Tomorrow was a new day, and he would allow the light back into his life.
Such were the thoughts Karim kept turning over in his head. Whether it was the effect of the alcohol he’d drank, or born out of genuine conviction, it did not seem to matter. But he did know one thing. That come what may, tomorrow he would love, and tomorrow he would live.
Such were the thoughts Karim kept turning over in his head. But little did he know, little did Karim realize, that tomorrow was drawing nearer than he’d expected. And that tomorrow something would be on the verge of beginning.
Tomorrow, the end would begin.
Tomorrow, his end would begin.
[…to be continued]