Chasing Ghosts: Chapter Four

Mark opened the front door to his house as his mom chimed in, “How was your day, honey?”

“Fine,” Mark responded to the cue. It was normally a cover for depressing events but, today, it was a smokescreen covering an interesting day.Though it filled him with happiness, he was not ready to talk to his Mom about his new infatuation with Megan.

“Do you have any homework tonight? If so, you need to get it done within the next hour so you can go with Dad to sit with your GrandDad at the hospital tonight.”

He walked to his room and laid his book bag on his desk, “Mom, do I have to go? GrandDad never woke up the last time I was there. He wouldn’t know I was there.”

She followed behind him, “They have conducted studies and scientists believe coma patients can hear conversations even though they are not conscious. That is why they tell family members to stay positive and upbeat around loved ones who are unconscious… you never know what they will hear and how they will respond.”

“But no one knows if that is true. It’s an unprovable theory,” Mark turned away from her to hide the growing frustration.

“Son, you’re missing the point. Part of becoming a mature young man is recognizing life is not always about you. Sometimes you need to do things just because they are important to someone else.”

“I’ve been thinking about that today…” he trailed off as he stared at an intricate design in the wallpaper that allowed him to fight making eye contact with his mother. “Tonight is our guild’s raid night in Trade Battles 2. The game is OK, but I mainly play it to hang out with my friends. Doesn’t that count as doing something for someone else?”

“You’re missing the point. Besides, you play those games too much… you are missing out on a normal life.”

“Weren’t you the one that insisted I find a nice group of gamers? Well, my guild is a great group of guys and I’ve never had a negative experience with them.” He was struggling for ground in this argument and he knew it. “One of their core principles of the guild is ‘Treat others as more important than self.’ Isn’t that what you just said, Mom?”

Her tone softened as she approached her son, “Mark, that is what I mean. But, do you realize that maybe… just maybe that rule should apply to the real world as well?”

He couldn’t keep his eyes locked on the wallpaper anymore as his Mom’s voice reaching the breaking point. “Your Dad is going through a difficult time right now and he is struggling to hold it together. I have never seen him like this. He needs help and strength… it would be a huge help if you could just find the time to be there for him.”

He was not going to bring Megan up now, but she was foremost on his mind. “Mom, am I not going through a difficult time as well?” He said to deflect her point. “This is affecting all of us. Some can bear it, like Dad, and others have to stay distant to stay sane.”

“I know, honey, I know. Would you at least consider riding to the hospital with your Dad when he gets home and then let me come pick you up at around 8 o’clock? How does that sound?” she suggested with a hopeful smile.

Mark was grimacing as he was not sure how it would affect his plans for the evening or how the events of the evening would affect his overall mood. But, it was not long before he conceded the point to his mother.

“OK. I’ll go.” With those words, the tension faded away as he relaxed and let his shoulders droop a bit.

For this first time that afternoon, Victoria Shelby beamed through the tears as she hugged her only son. “That’s my boy.” She ruffled his hair and held him close, “That’s my boy.”

Mark allowed a smile as he turned to face her, “Do they have public access Wi-Fi in his room?”

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