Before the Storm
rating: +77+x

Jay opened the door.

"Michael? Is that you?" Their mother's shaky voice greeted them as they entered the room. They brought with them a bouquet of flowers, a small tote bag, and a feeling of crushing hopelessness. Little porcelain figures of unicorns decorated the dresser, flanked by old pictures of a happy family. The air smelled faintly of urine, chlorine, and the first drops of water before a rainstorm.

"No, mom. It's me." They shut the door behind them and approached the senior woman seated on a rocking chair near the window. "How are you?" Jay leaned down and kissed her forehead. The woman recoiled slightly.

"You're not Michael." She glowered, looking up at her visitor with dismay. "What happened to your arm?"

"Mom, dad's been dead for years." They sighed, straightening out their back again and avoiding the second question.

"Michael is dead?" She teared up, her eyes quickly flushing red as small salty tears rained down her cheeks.

"It happened years ago. Look, I brought you daisies. Your favorite." Jay extended their arm to hand their mother the flowers, but she shook her head. Instead, she wrapped her arms around herself as she continued to cry.

"I brought you some meds. I'm going to make sure you take them, okay?" They gently tossed the bouquet onto the bed and reached into their tote bag and produced a bottle labeled 'MNESTIC'.

Suddenly, the tears stopped. The woman's hands freed themselves from around herself and reached up to her face. "Oh… was I… crying?"


"Sorry, I can't seem to focus much these days…"

"Don't worry. I have something here that's going to help you focus."

"Oh, okay. Are you a new nurse? I don't recall seeing you here before."

Jay opened the bottle as deftly as they could with only one arm, then flipped the container over and dropped the single pill within onto the bed. They then picked it up and approached their mother.

"Just take this and soon you'll be able to focus, okay mom?"

"Okay, dear. Why are you calling me mom?"

"Because you're my mom."

"But I don't even know your name."

"Just take this, please." Jay handed the pill to their mother, who took it into her mouth without a second thought. Perhaps it was because she was somewhat used to complying with the nurses, or because deep down she did recognize her child. She swallowed.

Jay inhaled deeply and slowly exhaled, taking a seat on the bed beside their mother. There was a silence between the two only interrupted by the gentle tapping of a branch swaying in the wind outside. Their mother appeared to be unconscious.

One minute.

The soft drizzle of rain dotted the window.


A muffled bolt of thunder in the distance cracked the sky.


With a gasp, their mother sprang to life again, eyes bugged out and darting across the room before ultimately fixing upon Jay.

"Justine!" She gasped.

"Jay, mom." Even years later she had not truly accepted them. The sting of rejection was still painful, even after all this time.

"Jay, Justine, whatever. You can't let me go into that state again. I will not allow you to leave me in the dark."

"It's Jay. And unless you want to go back into the dark again, y-you'll call me Jay." Their voice hesitated for a moment.

"Such impudence. I didn't raise my daughter to be like this." She scowled.

"I can leave, you know." Jay stood.

"Fine. I… I'm sorry."

"Thank you." They sat back down, assuming a position akin to folding one's arms but with only one limb available.

"Now listen. You can't pull me out of the darkness like that and expect me to just go back when it's time for you to leave. It's inhumane."

"That's actually why I came to talk to you today. I got ahold of something that can end this once and for all."

"Oh, Jus… Jay, I knew your science degree would come in useful someday! Thank you, you're the best daughter I could have ever asked for. Who would have thought they would make a cure in my lifetime?" Her eyes welled with tears again.

Jay grimaced, then looked away.


"It's not a cure, mom."

The two were quiet for what felt like a lifetime.

"You… You came here to kill me?" She spoke breathlessly.

"No! Not unless you wanted me to. I mean, I was going to give you the option to go out on your terms! And like, that's better than just sitting around rotting away for another 10 or 15 years, is it not?"

"You did come here to kill me, you bitch."

"Mom, listen to me!"

"You want your inheritance that bad? Well, you're going to be so happy when I keel over, aren't you? You greedy little shit of a child!" She leaned up from her chair, attempting to get up before nearly falling over. Finding purchase on the dresser, everything upon it shook violently, with one of the pictures of Jay, their mother, and father falling face down.

Jay stood to help their mother stand but found themself rejected by her.

"Mom, if you would please just listen to me. Assisted suicide isn't a thing here, and even if it were, no doctor would do it because of your condition. This is the best I could do for you under these circumstances. Do you know how much I risked just sneaking that pill out here? Do you know what would happen if I were caught with what I'm offering you to help you? I could lose my job –- no, my life!"

Their mother clutched the dresser, breathing heavily as she slowly rose.

"I'm doing this because you're my mom and… even though we've had our differences, I do still love you." Jay broke into tears as they spoke, barely able to suppress what they had been feeling all day.

Their mother was silent. Now steady on her feet, she leaned back and took a seat on the rocking chair again. She seemed to ponder things for a moment as her child wept beside her. Thunder roared in the distance as lightning struck.

"Will it hurt?"


The two fell silent again. Tiny drops of rain impacted against the window glass.

She nodded.

"Okay. I don't know how much longer this magic pill lasts, so I want to die as myself."

"Are you sure about this, mom?"

"As sure as I've ever been about anything in my life. Pass me the daisies."

"Okay." Jay leaned back and reached for the flowers, handing them over to their mother.

"They smell lovely. Just like when I was a girl."

"You loved telling me that story about how dad always got you daisies because they were cheaper than roses."

"He couldn't afford much back in the day, so I didn't hold it against him. I grew to love daisies anyway."


A pause.

"So what are you going to do, shoot me?"

"No. I have something to make it seem like you died of natural causes."

Jay rummaged through their tote bag for a moment. They found what they were looking for and hesitated for a brief moment.

"Are you sure you're sure?"


"Okay… I… I'm sorry I didn't come to visit you more."

"A bit late to apologize for that now, isn't it?"

"Heh. You're right. Close your eyes."

She did.

They sniffled, pulling out a shut manilla envelope. Opening the prongs, Jay removed a sheet from within and shut their own eyes, holding the object up to their mother's eye level.

"I'm sorry I never really got you."

Their eyes welled over with tears again.

"I never meant to push you away. At the end of the day, you'll always be my daughter. And I love you."

For a moment they considered correcting her, but there was no use fighting it now.

Jay sighed, the tears coming to a stop.

"I love you too, mom. Open your eyes."

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