An unprecedented magnitude 8.2 earthquake just hit New York City.
The catastrophe has resulted in the deaths of thousands of people, billions of dollars in property damage, and thrown the nation into turmoil. But in a small apartment nestled in the armpit of Brooklyn, a family of six has suffered the brunt of the earthquake most.
What they experienced was not just physical pain, but emotional.
Prior to the incident, Mother sat down with her Son and told him simply, “You are not worthy of my name.”
Son looked her in the eyes in disbelief. “How could you say such a thing?”
Mother told him how she could. She could because he was a failure. He had accomplished nothing in his two decades of being alive. He had failed college. He had no job. He argued with her and had no skills to contribute to the family. “You are not worthy of my name,” she chanted, as if her name was worth anything at all.
Son gathered his things before Stepfather and his watching Half-Siblings, each who wore a kind of sneer as he did. They held no sympathy for him; worse, they felt glad he would no longer be their burden. Stepfather would no longer feel ashamed for choosing his bride. Half-Siblings would no longer feel compelled to befriend the quiet, lonely creature in the attic.
But then the earthquake struck, and Son sprang into action.
As the household crumbled around them, it was he who dove atop Little Sister, shielding her from falling debris with his own body. As the quake subsided, it was he who rose, bruised and battered, to collect Stepfather’s corpse from the rubble; to lead the family with a sure hand out of the ashes, as they panicked uncontrollably behind him. Son said nothing to Mother in the way of vindication. He simply acted, following his heart.
When asked what drove him to perform such a heroic duty, despite the circumstances of his relationship with his mother ceasing to be what they were, he responded, “I am no critic of institute.”
“What does that mean?” asked the Channel 7 reporter.
“It means I love my mother.” And that was all.
Sadly, this young man’s heroics meant nothing in the face of aftermath; an aftermath which saw the family gathered over the grave of a man they had loved, with no Son in sight.
Son sighted his injuries as an excuse; indeed, he had been pierced with debris during the incident.
“We all have injuries,” said Mother. “We all limped our asses to this grave.”
The turmoil that had been brewing between Mother and Son started with Son’s first failure in life, the eminent F he received on his first term in college, leading to a squander of several thousand dollars.
“It was a trying time for me,” Son told the Sun News during an interview. “I was depressed, lonely. I couldn’t focus, so I just avoided school, even if it meant missing my exams.”
This great failure “to impress [his] family with a degree” was just the starting point. Following this, Son applied to several jobs to no avail, and near the time of the incident that would shake his family’s foundation, he began being more outspoken about his condition, receiving nothing but prejudice from his family.
“I don’t care what it is,” Mother said about his depression the day he was diagnosed. “It’s not cancer. He can walk to work, and work.”
Building tension led to arguments that couldn’t be quelled. Son could only argue his case for so long without any form of support, while Mother had Stepfather on her side.
Stepfather joined the family eight years prior to the incident, emerging as a strange figure whom Son had never met before, yet who proposed to his mother over the course of a summer in which Son was away. Son believed this marriage would never work, being that the participants barely new each other. He eventually turned out to be right, as the family had been in the process of getting divorced when the preeminent strategy struck, but it was no consolation for eight years of arguments and animosity. Of physical and verbal abuse; of police-present altercations and hospitalizations.
Indeed, Son had more than one reason not to show up at his stepfather’s funeral.
The dust has settled over New York City. But no matter how tranquil things may seem, one truth remains: the earthquake did not change any landscapes of the mind. Son, now a local hero en route to a third semester at school, is still his mother’s villain. The ground is still shaking from the roil of their conflict.
The earthquake is over. But zero never happens.