“Mama, look! I can blow bubbles in the water, watch!” Little Erik cried happily, forgetting his mother’s indifference in a moment of blissful discovery. Bending down so just his mouth was below the surface of the water, he blew. Bubbles roiled to the surface, and he pulled away, giggling.
She nodded weakly, her lips twitching into a strained smile for just a moment. “Yes, Erik.” Closing the book that rested on her lap, she stared intently at the wall behind her son. “Oh god, why have you given me this for a child?” She murmured to herself, face contorting into an ugly grimace.
“Mama, mama, look what I can do!” Little Erik (for that’s what she called him once in one of her rare good moods) was standing up, straining to draw pictures in the steamy mirror that hung above the tub. “Mama -” There was a loud splash, and the harsh, wet sound of skin against porcelain.
Annoyed, she snapped her glance away from the tiled wall and down towards where her son had been standing. “Stupid boy, what are - Erik?” For once there was a hint of concern in her voice. “Stop it, stop that!” She yelled, going straight from alarm to anger.
But Erik wasn’t playing now. He thrashed in the water, unable to gain a grip on the slippery surface of the tub. Water. Water over his head, holding him down. Water seeping into his ears, his nose, his mouth. He screamed for help, calling out the name of the only person that loved him (because this must be normal, this must be how everyone else’s mother’s were?). “MAMA, MAMA!” But there was no sound. Instead, he choked on water, the bubbles that had just a moment ago been a fun game now spelling death. Tiny, chubby hands groping the air, being sucked below the surface.
And she stared at him there in the tub, watching his life slip away second by second. She could just let him drown, she realized, and then she’d be rid of him forever. No more abomination in her house, no more disgrace of a son. Watching his movements grow weaker, she heard him try and call out. He was probably calling for her, she realized with a stab of guilt. He WAS still her son… Stepping towards the tub, she reached out towards him - and hesitated. She could be rid of him forever… The temptation was so strong, the thought so sweet.
Water filled his lungs, and his eyes burned. His limbs felt like lead, and he found himself unable to move. Where’s Mama? Why hasn’t Mama helped me?
Watching the movements of her child still, something deep inside her forced her into action. Lifting him out of the water, she dropped him onto the towel that was laid out on the floor to collect any spilled water. “You idiot boy!” Slapping his good cheek, she glared down at him. Why hadn’t she just let him drown? “Disgusting.” Storming out of the room, she slammed the door behind her.
Staring out at the lake before him, the now grown Erik felt hate and anger bubble up inside him. His first memory of life, his first memory of his mother. And his first memory of death.