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Pinacoteca del Castello Sforzesco, Milano, Italia

Twilight Sleep

The suburbs offered William a carefree childhood. Until about 10-years-old, he didn’t know that people died of anything other than old age. Cancer, poverty, famine – all those things might as well have been a fairy-tale, they were so far from his family’s small community. While on the cusp of his teenage years, William began better understanding reality.


Perhaps, it was that his parents began tearing each another apart every passing night; maybe it was his father walking out him and his ailing mother; or maybe it was simply time to grow up. It was then, after his father left, William packed up all his childish things into an unmarked box and decided that period of his life was over. It was one of the most foolish things he’d ever done.

By the summer of 1997, he was just mature enough for his mother’s condition to worsen. She began seeing Doctors more than twice a week – then specialists – then miracle workers. She was stomaching so many pills and false hopes for the both of them, William could only watch. She became distant, much like his father had. Only instead of using resentment as a reason to escape, she used pain. Pain he could never imagine, so when she began numbing her days with vodka and her nights in uppers & downers, he didn’t take notice. She’d been through enough, it all seemed justifiable.

As a child you could by no means realize how irreversible those actions were. Yet, he has no regrets about not intervening on his mother’s now clear addiction, or that he let his father distance himself from them so easily, as if they were infected. No, what he regrets most is letting people tell him that he should have regrets about it all.

At the peak of his mother’s struggle, they moved from their suburban home in a quick money grab. Times were getting hard by then, although I’m certain it took shape long before that point but he would never say. They sold what belongings they could and moved north.

Living in their new place tried William’s patience, as if he was now part of the everyday struggle – a commoner. Coming to grips with that was the first hurtle he’d have to overcome if he wanted to fit in; and William needed to fit in – he couldn’t stand be around the house any longer. His mother became more desperate and her distance quickly turned into absence. She would leave for days, sometimes weeks at a time, never certain of when she’d be back. He would bide his lonesome nights tiding the house followed by preparing dinner for one with whatever time hadn’t already spoiled in the pantry. He was a long way from the posh streets of the Upper East Side.

Looking back, those would prove to be the simplest times in William’s life … and also the loneliest.

Published in: "Chapter One"

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