Hypostandard

The mother stares at the television, tsk-ing and saddened by the sudden flood on an old memory of a city from the mother country. His husband of many years sits by beside her, tentatively watching the sad news himself, purposefully denying any allegations of sympathy. Like the son. Totally annoyed by seeing his mother's unfounded empathy. She continually yells from the room, converting the mood around, bidding mournful shrieks of helplessness. The lingering smell of boiling vegetable oil does not make things easier, in fact. The son's schadenfreude ticks itself off. 'Fuck that,' he tells himself, while his mother prays for things to become better. The old folks were supposed to go to church that evening, only halted by the undying sweat of cold from the bitter air. The son hates it all. He would have none of it. Exasperated by his mother's lame philanthropic ideals, poor as they are, troubled a family as they are. 'Fuck that,' he tells himself again, as he crawls towards his sister's bed as music blares off from his laptop computer overlapping the voices of the news from the telly. He drowns himself completely unawares. He takes a peek, try not as he might; death toll rises to a half-thousand. 'Fuck that,' he thinks. 'Fuck it all.'

The mother walks away and comes across a sachet of instant coffee from a table. 'Whose is this?' Nobody responds. She sets it aside and goes out, disappearing from the son's periphery. Silence, at long last, soliloquy from the son. But not long after she returns bearing a cup of hot water.

'Do you work on Christmas?' asks the mother.

'I do not know,' the father replies. 'Maybe. But the cold'll kill me.'

She grabs the sachet of coffee from where she left it and tears it open, mixes it up with the hot water she held in her cup. Slowly the positive aroma fills the ugly stench of the room.

'It's not like before,' tiptoeing towards her bed. 'It's only bad when the air hits your face hard.'

The son remains indifferent, drowned in his own sea of thoughts. The father never answered.

Then the news changes its tone to a more comedic turn. She stares at it with hard intent and full of contentment, speaking to herself as she does, even in her sleep. She mocks at the celebrity shown on the screen, and unbeknownst to the outside world, completely destroys the integrity of her opinion from her previous comment five minutes ago. The son looks on, brimming with confused delight, while the father takes a nap, all tired and weary.

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