The Feeling of Nothing
When Papa woke up the next morning, the first thing he did was to put his ear against the door of the room he had locked Rane in. He had never meant to hurt her all her life. It was just a part of his journey through life, trying to come to terms with his work-obsessed self and his commitments to people.
He knew he did a bad job.
But he had no idea how to change.
And secretly, a part of him was reluctant to change now.
He did his research on adaptation and thought that Rane would adapt. For a while, she appeared to. She loved drawing and he had done nothing to object to her new hobby. He thought it would improve her. HE thought she was independent.
It wasn’t until she came and snapped at him for leaving her alone that he realised that he did not know.
After that, he wondered why she wasn’t there to help Rane. Why had she gone her own way and left him to his devices?
There was no sound on the other side of the door. Maybe she had fallen asleep.
The sky was still brightening, so he left her alone and went to make breakfast for the both of them. Fried eggs and cereal.
He remembered that breakfast had always been a quiet meal. He tried to remember if he ever heard her talk during the meal. If she had shared any part of her life with him. No. There was nothing.
What should he do?
What did she want?
Why didn’t he know?
He put extra soy sauce into Rane’s egg. He made her a cup of milo. He gave her a bigger portion of cereal than usual.
Then he went back to the door and unlocked it.
She laid on her side beside the wall, eyes closed, a pencil not far from her half-open hand. All four walls of the room which were white before, after they painted it when Rayden died, were filled with pencil drawings. He stared around him, not sure whether to be horrified or amazed.
There were pictures of humanoid lizards, little dwarf creatures holding a wii controller. There were fields of flowers he had never seen before and a forest of mushroom spitting out acid. He touched the wall. A bit of the graphite came off in his hand.
He turned to Rane. He had forgotten to give her a blanket. He shook her awake. She was so cold. “Rane,” he called.
There was no reply. Maybe he should take her to her bed.
He picked her up and brought her back to the room. Then he pulled the blanket up over her and locked himself in his study.
It was only that evening when she still did not wake up did he think to check her breathing. By then, he didn’t have to, because he could smell the rotting smell of a corpse.
And the breakfast he had meticulously prepared remained on the table, one half eaten, the other completely untouched.