Saturday, 8 February 2014

The Seven Deadly Sins: Sloth


So it turns out that writing about sloth is a lot more difficult than you think. Hence the reason it's taken so long to write the second instalment of my Seven Deadly Sins Project. These two pieces are stand alone but if you're interested in reading Pride, click here. I hope you enjoy this and I do appreciate the feedback I've gotten so far, so any tips are welcome!

Also, my awesome friend Alasdair Cooper has released some videos about the Zelda game, Ocarina of Time. If you're into gaming then definitely check him out, they're really good. 






Sloth

Peter tried to open his eyes but they were too heavy. His head hurt and his mouth was extremely dry. His tongue felt foreign in his mouth. He managed to open one eye. Then the other. He looked around and saw five other beds in the same room as him, all of them with curtains drawn. He tried to reach down and relieve an itch but couldn’t move his arms. He looked down and saw his wrists were strapped to the bed. The hospital bed. He couldn’t remember how he got there. The door to the room opened and Lindsay walked in. Her face was pale and gaunt and her hair was perched messily on the top of her head. Her round belly seemed to stick out more than usual in her bright red top. She had a hospital band round her wrist.

“Hi, Sweetheart.” she whispered.

“Lindsay. How did I get here?”

The breath caught in her throat, “We… We found you outside. You took all your pills and-“ 

Now knew why his throat was so sore. Obviously, it hadn't worked as he’d hoped.

“I see. How long am I going to be in here?” he asked.

Lindsay stared at Peter, “You… You died. They brought you back to life. You can’t just leave.”

“So it did work. Strictly speaking.” he said, in his usual monotone.

Lindsay started to cry and clutched her belly, “Peter, please… Just…”

“Just what?”

“Just care… Care, Peter.” she pleaded.

Lindsay moved away from the door as a doctor came in behind her. He had a large grey moustache and large grey glasses.

“Good morning, Peter.”

“Morning.”

“How are you feeling?”

“Fine.”

The doctor took the chart from the bottom of Peter’s bed and looked at it.

“You’ve had problems for a while now, Peter. We need to try and sort this.”

“There’s nothing to sort. I know what’s wrong with me.”

The doctor peered at Peter over the top of his glasses.

“Your wife tells me that you haven’t been doing any of your exercises. They’re there to help, you know.”

Peter rolled his eyes, “With respect, I don’t think that those exercises are going to make my legs grow back. They’re gone. Might as well just get on with it.”

Lindsay sniffed loudly from behind the doctor.

“We get a lot of veterans in here, Peter. We really can help you.”

Peter ignored the doctor, and turned away. He closed his eyes and let his head feel heavy on the pillow. The smell of disinfectant was unpleasant. He wanted out. By all rights he shouldn’t be there at all.

“Peter, please. The doctor’s trying to help.”

He felt Lindsay’s hand on his thigh. It felt warm through the scratchy sheets. He had nothing to say to her.

“I don’t know what to do, doctor. I can’t take it anymore. He just doesn’t care.” Lindsay whispered, “Ever since he came back from his last tour he hasn’t been like himself. Not since he lost his legs.”

‘I understand. We’ll do what we can to help him, but he will have to meet us half way. We can only help him if he wants to be helped.”

“I don’t think he does anymore. He doesn’t want to get involved with anything to do with the baby. He just keeps saying he doesn’t see the point in any of it. He’s not himself, doctor.”

There was a long silence and Peter could hear Lindsay crying.

‘Mrs. King… We have yet to discuss how you’re coping? You insist that you’re going to be alright but you’re in a very unstable condition, even more so when you consider that you have your baby to think about.”

Peter lay and waited for the ache to begin in his stomach. Hearing that his wife and child were unstable should have started a wave of nervous sweats or at least shorter breaths. But nothing came. He lay there as he had done before he had woken up. He was numb. There was nothing in him that felt bad about anything. 

He thought back to last night. Peter had stared at himself for at least half an hour before even picking up the bottle of tablets. He inspected every wrinkle under his eyes but after a while he couldn’t stop noticing the scars left on his face from the shrapnel. And he had felt nothing. For a long time he couldn’t stand to be anywhere that he could see his own reflection but now he had grown to accept it. He was what he was - a broken man. And there was nothing that could be done to help him. No one could go back and take away the things he had seen. They were imprinted on his mind like a footprint in cement. For nights and nights after he had been sent home he had nightmares of the blood and the screams. Now there was no sleep at all. Just empty nights.

Nothing could be done to help him. He had thought it all through. Lindsay and the baby would be better off without him. There was no guarantee that he would even be able to love this baby, let alone be a good father. Lindsay knew it really but she would never admit it. She still loved him. He knew that. But he couldn’t bring himself to give her that back. He knew that eventually one of them would die, leaving the other bereft. Their child would be left without a parent, and then eventually would be parent-less. Then their child would die and there would be nothing left. Nothing left to prove that Peter King had existed at all. So why bother trying? 

When Peter had reasoned all this, he had opened the bottle of tablets, swallowed them all dry and wandered out into the street. He had just sat down in the rain and waited. He couldn’t remember falling unconscious. He couldn’t even remember what he had been thinking about while he was sitting there. All he remembered was waking up in the hospital bed, knowing that they had caught him just in time. It was all enough to stir up a little frustration. A little, but not enough.

“We’ll be alright. I just want you to make Peter better. I need him, I can’t do this on my own.”

Sure she could, she had always been very independent. That was what had drawn Peter to her in the first place - he didn’t have to solve every problem and he knew that she would be able to look after herself when he wasn’t at home.


“Lindsay, you have to consider the health of your child to be of the utmost importance. You are very near your due date, and you don’t need unnecessary stress.’ the doctor said.

When it came down to it, Peter didn’t really matter. He was just a statistic - a crazy man come back from war with something not right in the head. This baby could have a fresh start if he was gone. At least for a little while.

“Please, just help him. Will you try to help him?”

Peter knew he would have to talk to Lindsay. He would explain to her that she needed to let him go. They were never going to be together forever anyway, forever was an impossibility. Nothing lasted forever. They would both be dead by the end. Peter should have been dead already.

“Of course, Lindsay. Right now though, I think you should get some sleep. You’ve been through a lot and it must have taken a lot out of you.”

“I’m not leaving him. I can’t leave him now. What if he tries something else? I have to be here to stop him in case that happens.”

Peter almost felt like laughing. She had always been so stubborn, and it never led to any good.

“Alright. If you need anything, don’t hesitate to ask.”

He heard the doctor’s footsteps moving away. It was just him and Lindsay. The baby didn’t count yet. Lindsay moved closer and took a seat right beside his head. He felt her hand take his and she stroked the veins that protruded from the back of his hand. He could smell her perfume, it was like honey.

“Peter… We can get through this. Please just talk to me. I need you, I can’t raise this baby on my own.” she whispered.


Peter felt a tear drop on his arm. He didn’t answer. He kept his eyes closed. Lindsay took his hand and he felt her T-shirt under his palm. She had put his hand on her belly. He felt something move underneath his fingers. It nudged his first knuckle. His heart skipped a beat and he felt it beat a little faster. His palms started to sweat as the baby kept kicking him. It seemed relentless, one kick after another, as if it knew that this was it’s father’s hand and that it’s father had given up on it before it had taken it’s first breath. Peter’s eyes started to sting and for the first time in months he felt a hot tear squeeze out of the corner of his eye. He didn’t want to die.