Author : Desmond Hussey, Staff Writer

“Hello, Mum.”

She stands in the doorway, arms crossed, deciding whether she has the guts to enter. The intervening silence is broken by the repetitive hiss-thunk of my artificial lungs and the various beeps and clicks of the life support equipment esthetically cluttering my immaculate bedroom. She makes up her mind and tentatively takes a step closer. I knew she would. This is, after all, her last chance to say her piece.

“I’m glad… you came…” I whisper through heart-breaking gasps for breath. I must look so weak, all shriveled up in this disgusting, aged, dying body. I give her my sweetest smile. I chose these dentures just for her.

“Shut up, Mum. I’m not here to reminisce or pretend like we’ve any love between us.” Indignant rage festers behind her eyes. I’m so glad she has my eyes!

“For that… I’m… truly… sorry.“ My face is a mask of remorse.

“And I’m certainly not here to forgive you.”

So much for pleasantries. I drop the sweetness and labored breath and speak bluntly, “Then why ARE you here, dear? Surely it’s not to wish your dying mother a fond farewell as she slips quietly into the Everafter.”

She doesn’t respond. The gears are turning. Anger and loathing battle for first strike. She scans my room, frowning at the very expensive medical equipment keeping my organs functioning, eyes my priceless collection of art on the wall. What’s this? Was that a covetousness twinkle in her eye? Don’t worry dear; you’ll get everything… in a manner of speaking.

“Was it worth it?” She asks at the end of a dramatic pause. The question drips with contempt.

“It?” I riposte with mock naiveté.

“Your life,” she sighs, “This.” Her gesture takes in my lavish room. “All this wealth. Was it worth dying alone for?”

“But, I’m not alone, dear.” My smile is cold. “You’re here to keep me company. My loving daughter.”

“Stop. Stop it. I am not your daughter. Not any more.”

Oh, but you are. My very special child.

“Money was more important to you than us, wasn’t it, Mum? Money and your conceit for youth and beauty. You drove us away, Dad and me. You drove us away and for what? Another fat million in your bank account? You had the best of everything, food, liquor, clothes, entertainment, art, cars, medicine, a face lift every five years. But here you are, kept alive, barely, by the miraculous machines you bought with all your god-damned money. You thought you could buy anything, didn’t you? But you can’t buy immortality and you can’t buy love.”

I begin to laugh. I hate that it sounds more like a cackle.

“Goodbye you covetous old bitch. I hope you rot in hell.” She turns to leave, but Dr. Swanson looms above her, needle already sliding into the meat of her shoulder. Her look of indignant shock is trumped quickly by the sedatives. Swanson lowers her into a chair as her consciousness ebbs.

When I wake later I feel forty years younger, but a phantom voice screams from the dark recesses of my mind. Shreds of her id still fight me, but Dr. Swanson assures me these will fade over time.

Dr. Swanson holds up a mirror for me.

“Oh, my dear,” I speak to smiling image of my daughter’s face in the mirror, my face, “you could not have been more wrong. I CAN buy immortality. You were my retirement plan, grown for a single purpose. As for love… who needs it when you’re richer than god?”

I’m so glad she has my eyes.

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