Mark Hamwell drove out of house in his silver hatchback; he would have gone with his truck but he was planning a surprise. The air was a bit cold outside but it didn’t bother him that much; nothing did these days. Mark turned right at the corner and drove up the highway; he wanted to go the fast route, after all, he had so much planned and so little time.
Mark arrived at the little flower shop on the 71st Avenue about fifteen minutes later. He parked in one of the few open spaces on the street; it was crowded with cars whose owners had left for the shopping markets a couple of blocks down.
As Mark got out of the car he was hit with nostalgia; this place brought back memories. Mark looked up to the familiar sign, ‘Flowry Dreams’; the ‘e’ had fallen off a long time ago making the sign seem sort of poetic. Mark touched the wall reminiscing as he did so, he had walked in and out of this shop many times as a kid, after all it is his father’s shop. Mark winced, the bad memories had come flooding in. It was his father’s shop up until Mark’s mother got cancer; the bad kind. It wasn’t terminal but it wasn’t exactly all that treatable; all they could do was wait. However the costs for operations and maintenance were extremely high; his father sold everything. Mr.Hamwell loved his shop and was one of the nicest shop tellers you could meet. He believed that the business was its own living thing and treated it as one would treat their child. That’s why Mark was shocked when his dad gave it up to some fat man in a black suit; Mark could still remember the scowl on the man’s face as he walked out the room.
Life was tough for the Hamwells after that. Mr.Hamwell got hired at an accounting firm in the city; it earned a lot more than the shop. Mr.Hamwell put Mark in a fancy boarding school; a big smile on his face promising that everything would be okay. Mark never saw that smile again.
Mark’s father would occasionally visit his son with presents in tow; a smile on his face. Mark knew that the smile was fake, an act to comfort his son and so he played the part of loving and carefree son. But as the months passed the act became worse and worse until it was no longer deniable; Mr.Hamwell was depressed.
At the time, Mark didn’t know that his father was ill; he just thought that his father was merely sad. Sure Mark missed his smiling and beautiful mother but his parents had raised him to be a strong boy. Plus his mother was still there even if her beautiful blond hair was gone, replaced with something that resembled a Chinese monk. Mark thought his father would get better, just like his mom. Mark thought wrong.
It was a couple of months after his fifteenth birthday that he heard the news; his father had crashed. Mark rushed to the scene; his teachers let me out for the day. Mark got there to see an abstract of blood, alcohol, metal, bone and flesh. Mark held it in, it was an accident after all, there was nothing he could do.
It was a week later when Mark got the message. He had dropped out of school and was working at a nearby mining site doing menial work; he had to pay for his mother’s hospital fees after all. Mark’s boss called him up from the site, it was urgent he said. Mark dusted off his clothes and hurried up to the offices.
When he got there he was given two envelopes; one from a law firm and another of unknown origin. Mark opened the first one; tearing off the paper with his bare hands. It was a will notice; Mark’s mom was called to the hearing but since she was incapable of going herself Mark was considered her guardian. Mark was filled with memories from the incident; it was still fresh on his mind.
The second one was addressed to Mark himself but it didn’t say who it was from. As Mark read it he found out it’s owner. It was a suicide letter, from his dad; it said that he loved both Mark and his mother and that he would miss them. It said that he was sorry, it said that he was unhappy. It meant that he was gone, it meant that it wasn’t an accident. Mark held it in.
Mark asked for an early leave that day; he wanted to go meet his mother. His mother was there, her skin a ghostly white. He told her that he got a mail today; something about a will. He told her he was going to the hearing. He didn’t tell her about the note.
Mark worked hard after that; he became one of the best foremen. He managed to scrape enough money for university but it was hard. Between lectures, work and visits to his mother Mark barely had enough time to study but he managed to come out with a decent degree. He was a graduate.
Mark’s mother had managed to get better; she had fought her battle with cancer and won. Mark’s mother was sent home; she could have stayed in the hospital but Mark wanted her by his side. Things were finally looking better for Mark.
It was third week of the big project at work; Mark had moved jobs and become an architect and they were designing a skyscraper at the office. He would leave the house early in the morning and come back home at the dead of the night leaving his mother nothing to do but wander the house. Mrs.Hamwell was wandering around the house doing random cleaning when a letter came for Mark. It was from his boss so Mrs.Hamwell went and put it in his office. As she did so, she hit the table and a clutter of envelopes fell. She picked each one and put them back on the table; all except one. One of them didn’t have a sender; it was blank. It had already been opened so Mrs.Hamwell opened the letter, after all what’s a mother’s job if she doesn’t snoop around once in a while.
Mark came home extremely late that night; they had a deadline that they had to meet. Parking his truck in the garage Mark noticed that all the lights were still on in the house. It wasn’t off-putting but it was certainly strange. Mark headed straight for the fridge; he was famished. As he turned the counter he tripped and fell over. Under him was his mother. Mark stood up thinking his mother had just fallen over but the sight shocked him. His mother lay on the floor, her white hair spread over her like an halo. In her left hand she was holding a letter, in her right her bloody knife and in the middle of her chest; a large gaping hole.
The shock of the scene caused Mark to fall back to the floor. For a while he couldn’t think, he couldn’t feel. He just stared at the picturesque scene in front of him; like some sort of angel of death. Mark held it in.
It was a couple of months later that Mark met Freya. He was celebrating another outstanding achievement; scores of friends and colleagues surrounded him but he never felt so alone. But there she was, Freya Jacobs or Fortune as she called herself. She was a manager at another building company and had come to celebrate a joint effort between the two firms. Mark made a bee line for her; something about her face, her smile made him so comfortable. The first word out of his mouth was a dating proposal; obviously she said no.
A couple months and a lot of awkward conversations later she finally agreed. It didn’t take long before the found a connection; they were mutually in love. Life was good again for Mark Hamwell; he was finally turning around. He had started to come out of his shell; he started smiling again though not very often. All of this was because of that little gal sitting at a business party. She was truly Mark’s Fortune.
Mark stepped out of the flower shop and put the arrangement in the boot; each flower had been carefully placed by him, after all, he was the son of a florist. Mark stopped at the Jewellers on the way; he couldn’t exactly propose without a ring.
After collecting the ring worth almost half his savings Mark rushed to the hospital. Sure, Fortune hated it when he visited the hospital but he thought she would be too happy to be upset. Mark thought wrong.
He got there a bit before Freya’s lunch break; he wanted to take her out for lunch after he proposed. He got to the reception, Karla kindly showed him to the doctor’s office; Fortune was busy with a doctor. Mark waited at the doctor’s smaller reception for a couple of minutes before he got impatient. He walked up and peeked through the glass door; the blind for operations was drawn but there didn’t seem to be any noise except for the faint thud.
Taking his chances Mark quietly opened the door; flowers and ring in hand. The thudding was much larger but Mark was already up to the curtain. With one smooth hand motion Mark opened the curtain.
Naked. That was the first word that came to his mind. Both Fortune and the doctor were naked; their flesh joined together in an intimate matter. Mark fell on his knees as they went to shock. His mind was blank.
“It’s all your fault Mark. If you had only been a little more emotional, a little more intimate, a little more human none of this would have happened” Freya said. She was covering herself up with a nearby towel.
“I thought I could you could change,” she continued, “I thought I could bear it. But I couldn’t; you were nothing but a cold empty husk. Sure you told me you loved me but the words had no feeling, they had no emotion.” She said the last part in a rushed breath, she had found her clothes and was putting them on.
Mark didn’t respond, he couldn’t respond. His eyes glazed over as if in a trance. Freya spoke some more, but Mark couldn’t hear her; her voice seemed to come from far away. Mark didn’t respond when Freya eventually left; the doctor had left quite some time ago.
It wasn’t until he had gotten home that Mark regained consciousness. He didn’t even know how he had gotten there; the drive back had been nothing more than blur. Inside the house Mark rushed to the fridge and drank down a bottle of scotch and then another one. It was only after his fifth one that he had gained enough courage to proceed upstairs and battle the nightmares that were sure to come.
As soon as he got into his room he closed the door behind him. There in that cold dark room Mark couldn’t hold it in. For the first time in his life Mark cried. How couldn’t he? His whole life had been a tale of struggle and woe. Of pain and anguish, of punishment and defeat.
The Icognito Writer