Mama has sat in her rocking chair for the whole morning sleeping soundly, her delicate violin by her side. Little Bryan had lingered around her and popped up to gain her attention but failed as Mama was still in her sweet dream.

The white steam from the coffee that she put on the small table has petered out. The ticktock of the clock had become the only sound emanating from the house. But this musical sound was obviously not as melodic as Mama’s. Bryan thought. How he loved her music!

She was the concertmaster of her philharmonic society, but little Bryan could not really understand the significance of that title. Concertmaster? The master of a concert? Anyway, he could feel his Mama’s importance in the music society and the importance of music to her.

It was truly magic for him to see that a combination of a stick and a piece of wood with strings could produce such beautiful sounds, much more pleasant than the dull ticktock from the clock. He could recall millions of times when the music escaped the constraints of the wooden door and reverberated through the corridor to reach his ears. It was the lullaby that had sung him to sleep for countless nights.

How she loved her violin! The home of the violin should always be perfectly neat. Mama used to clean it several times a day. The violin was always by her side as if it were a fragile crystal that could be broken by even the softest of breezes. Little Bryan was sometimes jealous of this relationship. The violin was an evil vampire that drained all the love and companionship Mama once had for him! For many nights, he prayed for the violin to disappear…

And the gods responded. The violin didn’t vanish, but the music did.

Two days passed…

A week passed…

The music, by then, simply became a memory…

Little Bryan was delighted at first when he found out that his Mama could finally spend more time with him, yet he hesitated when he saw his mother’s red eyes. “I am fine, Bryan.” She gave a forced smile in response to Bryan’s concern; “I just need more rest.”

From then on, Mama became fond of sugar pills. At least, that was what Mama told him. Sugar pills. Sweet and yummy. Good for sleeping. Did Mama just eat too many sugar pills? Bryan wondered.

Mama was still leaning on the armchair, her body facing the creaking seesaw that moved from side to side. Bryan loved the seesaw. Mama used to hold him up, put him on the seat, and press down on the other side, sending Bryan on a rocket ship ride.

“I am flying!” Bryan would yell in joy. “I can reach heaven and see the angels!” His mother chuckled, then her smile went stiff, and she turned her back.

“Yeah, yeah, heaven.” She muffled. On that day, he saw Mama holding even more pills. Some were sugar pills, some were new ones, and she put all of them into her mouth and gulped down a cup of water. Her face went painfully strained for a while and then normal again, only paler than before.

Though she cared less and less about her outfit, her violin was still as clean as before. He saw one day through the door’s crack that Mama had taken the violin out and placed it carefully on her shoulder. She paused and posed the stick on the string.

The music? Bryan could picture the soothing melody flying from the violin and permeating through the house. He would be swimming in a vast ocean of notes and tunes that were like falling stars from heaven. But no… He heard the drop of the stick and his mum’s moans. She was baring her teeth to minimize the groaning. He stared at Mama, clutching her hands, “Mama!” He cried, running into the room.

Mama looked up and tried to prevent her voice from fading.,”I am fine, Bryan. I am just too tired.” She patted Bryan’s head and hugged him. He never felt Mama so ice-cold as she was in that moment, but still, he could sense the warmth in his heart.

Bryan now turned at Mama on the sofa; her shadow from the setting sun was being cast on the floor and shielding Bryan. Her head was still buried in her chest. Her violin was still by her side.

Bryan walked closer and touched her arm. It was cold as ice, much colder than before, so Bryan dragged the sheet over to the sofa and gently placed it on her lap. Mama was sleeping so soundly that she didn’t even wake up.

“Mama just needs more rest,” Bryan said to himself. “I’d better not wake her up.”

Zixuan Zheng, the rising senior student of Huafu International, Guangzhou, Guangdong of China. Her pieces have been featured in magazines, newspapers and on Teen Ink, The RavensPerch, and Medium. Three-time junior golf champion in California. Enjoys making friends from around the globe through playing golf and via creative writing.