Zak finally confronts his mother in Crimson Storm. Check out this exclusive snippet from the final book in The Crimson Series.Zak
Convinced more than ever that there’s no way in hell I’ll get any sleep tonight, I get up from the bed and stretch out my long legs. It’s cold as fuck but I don’t bother to put my shirt on. After pacing the room for a while, I creep out and walk to the kitchen. Everything feels so damn small in here. It’s like I’m too big for this intimate living space.
How do people deal with this shit?
I put on the light and manage to find a glass, pour some water and gulp down the liquid in a matter of seconds. With my back to the door as I lean on the counter, I’m jolted by footsteps. I don’t even have to turn around to know who’s just crept up behind me. The tension in my shoulders says enough.
This is it.
It’s finally going to happen. I can’t keep avoiding her. We have to talk eventually. I remain as still as a church mouse, hoping mama will make the first move and to my delight, she does.
“You look just like him you know, a replica of your father. He would have been so proud of his favourite son,” mama says and I cringe. There’s something about the tone in her voice that makes me uncomfortable. I knew this was coming. I’ve been here for two days and we haven’t said much to each other. We’ve just stayed out of each other’s way, not just for the sake of mourning but because being alone just the two of us is rather awkward.
Shit, am I ready for this?
I crane my neck and steal a look her way.
My sweet beautiful mother – I’ve missed this woman. I don’t like what life has done to her though. She looks older than she actually is. She’s young, much younger than she looks. I think she had me when she just turned twenty. Her face that was once fresh and full of youth is now, old and full of grief. Her skin that is naturally a light shade of golden brown like Thembi’s and the way Khaya’s was is now slightly darker and cracked.
I look nothing like her. I am my father’s son. I look just like him like everyone always reminds me – tall, dark skinned and strong in built. So I tower over mama like some gigantic gladiator. All I got from ma is her dimpled smile. God, I’d give anything to see that smile. I’d give up all I have to see her smile at me with love in her eyes. I turn around slowly with my shoulders shrugged to look at her and try to smile.
Facing her properly, I see not only coldness and grief but a longing too. I’m struck with fear. That inevitable fear between two strangers has me sad inside because she’s not supposed to be a stranger. She’s my mother for God’s sake. The look in her eyes though. The look in her eyes right now will put the fear of God in anyone. It’s like she’s seeing right through me. It’s like she’s seeing all my fears, all my sins, all my nightmares and all my torment. I know what I want to say to her but the words just won’t come. I’m just not ready. My mouth goes dry.
“You were as good as dead to me, you know,” she says and I swallow hard. I’m not stupid. I completely understand what she was trying to say or implying by that simple sentence, so I finish it for her.
“So you wish it was me who had died instead of Khaya?” It comes out as a question but I didn’t mean it as one. Something snaps in mama’s eyes and in a heartbeat, she closes the distance between us. I see it coming because I know I crossed the line but I don’t even try to move when her hand strikes me hard across the face. I bite on the inside of my mouth and take in the burn of its force. I’ll admit it – that hurt like hell.
That fucken hurt.
My cheek is still feeling the burn of the slap. Tears fill mama’s cold eyes and roll down her dry face as she looks up at me with her trembling hands wiping away the evidence of her emotions.
“I carried you for nine months in my belly. Nine months Zakhele and you think I would wish for your death. Uyahlanya?” Are you crazy? She says in Zulu and I know I’m on my final strike. Like a boy schooled, I keep my big mouth shut now.
“You were a part of me, every part of me Zakhele. Your cells are of mine. Your every little nerve, your blood, your tiny little heartbeat, it was all a part of me…You are still a part of me. You will always be a part of me. You are my son,” she cries and I can’t look at her anymore.
I am ashamed.
I am ashamed of the man that I’ve become in her eyes. I just want her to love me the way that she loved Khaya.
I just want you to love me ma.
The child in me is still crying out for her love. “You stand here in front of me today and believe that I would wish for your death. You…my son, my first child, you stand here and put words in my mouth. You are the one who made me a woman. The one I first learnt the pain of birth from. You are my son, my first evidence of giving life. You think I would wish for your death?”
Shit. I feel my eyes flood. For the first time since I can remember, I actually feel tears in my eyes, tears that really want to fall. I thought I was immune to tears. All these years, I thought I was immune to tears but not now.
My eyes are on fire, my throat is throbbing and it feels like I’ve swallowed hot burning lava. My eyes are on fire, my throat hurts and there’s an indescribable pain in my chest. Shit, I think I’m about to cry. For the first time in years, I think I’m about to genuinly cry.
It hurts. It hurts so fucken bad.