Her feet drag as she slowly crosses the carpet sea back to the safety of her chair. The carpet seems to grip onto her feet making each progressive step harder and harder to take, but then again it seems that every step these days are now burdened with the weight of time.
The sickening dragging noise of her shuffling feet is drowned out by the hum of an old TV. The muffled voices seem far away from her and as the commercials end her ears yearn to hear the content, the sacred testaments the TV is slowly spewing now. She quickens her ladened steps and sets herself down, as her own body seems to sigh in relief. The chair welcomes her home, embracing her as it molds to her shape. The dent she has left in over years of use. This is her home. The shape of her body is engraved in its once lush frame, but now it creaks as it reaches out to embrace her. She doesn’t mind, it is still her home, her resting place, her haven and final sanctuary. Across the carpet sea sits her pride and joy, the television set. It sags now with age, pulling down at the corners just as her face now begins its tired descent into age. The antennas stick out at odd angles, just as she likes it. The occasional fuzz runs across the screen but she doesn’t mind, she takes it as a sign. The line of static that only briefly interrupts the vivid images that jump out into her lap. A reminder from her one and only friend that it is indeed still alive.
She sighs in contented happiness and settles in with fascination to her show. In the background though is a buzzing, a humming of sorts that mumbles its way into her mind interrupting her sacred time.
“For God’s sake Mom! Get out of that chair, go outside, talk to a friend, do something besides stare at that TV!” cried her daughter in anguish. “Don’t you see that you are wasting your life!”
The resounding sound of cupboards being slammed shut and the clumsy and loud movements of her daughter come from the kitchen behind her. She hears none of it, just a murmuring in the background, a static that she has come to tolerate. She ignores it, does not hear it, all else besides the soothing voices and images that constantly stream from her sacred box is faded.
“You have lost everything you loved, and those that love you have lost you.” The daughter cried in defeated bitterness. The daughter looks up from the kitchen alcove to no movement. Her words, her cry for change, have yet again gone unheard. Her voice never stronger than the TV’s. She looks down at her hands that have been stained and torn from work, none of which her mother ever knew about, or seemingly cared.
“Ok mom, I understand. I am leaving, and this time I am not coming back.” She sighs and leaves the kitchen as her high heels click on the kitchen-tiled floor. A harsh noise that is sharp and echoes across the empty, neglected house. But even this noise, persistent and hard never reaches the woman sitting in her throne atop the carpet sea.
“Goodbye mom, I hope you are happy with your real family, I won’t bother you anymore.”
The door is slammed, leaving the house with an absence. The mother senses this absence for a brief moment but chooses not to acknowledge it. She lets out another sigh as the murmuring in the background finally ceases and she can turn her full attention to the television.
The entire world around her seems to melt away in that moment. There is no longer the dark dingy room she calls home. No piles of dishes left to rot in the sink, no emptiness, no sadness, and no void that was left in her heart when her poor husband died. All of that is washed away in an instant, as the outside world seems to come within her own small world and nestle there at her feet making itself at home. Here her world is always perfect. In an instant she can be halfway around the world on a beach with the Mediterranean Sea warming her tired skin. Or she could be lost in the jungles of the Amazon living off the fruit of the land and experiencing the beauty of the savage untamed world. Her living room no longer houses the pain of the void left by the loss of her beloved, instead it is filled with the dreams they had but never were able to experience. She closes her eyes letting the world envelope her and gives herself over to a world so different than her reality. For that small moment, they are together again, living their dreams as they sail across the Indian Ocean and hang-glide over the cliffs of Dover. In that span of time, she finally lives. If only for that small amount of time.
An audible click resonates through her skull like a gunshot. The woman blinks repeatedly in shock and leans forward slowly. Releasing herself from the loving embrace of her loyal chair she grips at its arms with long unclean fingernails. With eyes wide, revealing their glassy blue hue that once shone like the sky, she stares at the television with a sinking heart. She stares into the face of static as it looks back at her mockingly. The sound is deafening. It strangled out the song of beautiful birds in South America and dolphins swimming in the sea and replaced it with the hiss of all things evil. The static crackles in her ears as her heart pounds. Frantically she grapples for the remote hoping it is just a mistake. The channels change but the image does not. She is left time and time again with the mocking static of her once loyal friend.
Her mouth is dry, her heart pounds, and her mind races in circles. “This can’t be happening,” she whispers in a hoarse unused voice. She detaches herself from her chair ready to brave the carpet sea. With determined and hopeful steps she drags her feet through the tangles of carpet and reaches her traitor friend. She grips the antennas desperately trying to rearrange them in an order that will bring back the images that soothe her broken heart like morphine. Nothing. The static continues as it hisses in her ear a lullaby of her worst nightmares.
Tortured and heartbroken she is swept across the carpet sea and cast down into the arms of her creaking old chair. There she lies watching with tear filled eyes, the second worst nightmare of her life. Left alone in a room, in a house, with nothing inside of it but her, her chair, and the horribly hissing of the TV. Just like that her world was taken away, and she was left more alone than ever. Not even her daughter would come for her now.
A simple order was put out to an employee, turn off a woman’s cable due to lack of funds. Her world, her dreams and her last hope, without a thought or the slightest of hesitation were snatched away. Her world was gone and all she was left with was the regret of a life she never lived, the pain of everything she had but lost, and of course, static.
This story was inspired by an interaction with a woman at a garage sale who told me a story about how her cable was shut off because she could no longer pay her bills. She said she was devastated because “It was like they took my world away”.