A Parting Remorse

I unlike my brother who woke only to the smell of burnt toast and varsol, awoke to the light of dawn peeking through my window. I had not always risen this early but some force that could not be explained told me to do so. Not wanting to upset the natural flow I rose from my bed with a giant yawn, and looking in the mirror in front of me noticed the sleepiness that had never gone away for the longest time. I walked to my closet and from the pile of dark clothes pulled out a pair of jeans and a t-shirt.

I had worn that t-shirt almost every day since the news had reached my ear. It was my favorite shirt, black of course like most of my clothes, and it had come from my mother.

I slid down the familiar banister that led to the front hall of my tiny humble home. This was something I had not been allowed to do when mum and dad were around, but I would give anything to hear an angry voice again every time I slid down the rail.

I slunk into the tiny kitchen, grabbed bread from the refrigerator and jammed it into the toaster. I sat down at the little four seat table that had for the past year only two chairs tucked into it. Suddenly I heard footsteps creep down the stairs and in walked Spencer. From that moment the aura in the room changed suddenly from grey to black. I could feel a third presence, something that was detaching us from each other.

Oddly tall, with bad posture, thin frame and hair that had a mind of its own, my brother walked over to me and ruffled my hair. Twenty-two years old and the only guardian I had, Spencer was my mentor, my confidence, and my friend. The best thing about him was that he always kept a cool head, and there was not one secret that he kept from me no matter how hard it was to handle.

“Hey Sonny. How come you up so early?” Spencer said through a yawn.

“Something woke me up,” I answered.

I could tell Spencer was contemplating on my response because his brown eyes formed the shape they always did when he was confused.

“Sorry,” I started. “I would have been quieter but I didn’t want to be down here alone.”

“Don’t sweat it. I needed to get an early start anyway. Today is the twenty-fourth,” said Spencer looking at his bare feet.

Indeed it was. July twenty-four was the worst day to ever come home to, as it was the day our lives changed. Exactly one year ago, Spencer and I had got home from playing guitar down at Kensington Market to find a police officer sitting on our door step. Mum and dad had not made it home to hear our laughing voices.

The following six months had been lonely and grey, with visits from neighbors. Spencer and I had grown accustom to hearing the same sympathy stories almost as much as we had grown accustom to our alphabet. The sunshine that had once been plastered on the walls of our tiny home had faded to a grey almost harsh enough to suffocate us. Now that time had grown stale, the walls had begun to tint into a paler grey that occasionally casted silhouettes of lives once known.

Looking up at Spencer I asked quietly, “We’re going to see them today, right?”

“Yes,” nodded Spencer.

I got up and quickly walked away with nothing to say at all. I stepped into the living room and sat down on an old cedar rocking chair. Everything else in our house had been rearranged except for this one room. On the walls hung paintings produced by my brother, and beside them hung elaborate collections of hand painted landscapes imagined by my father. Ever since that day in July there had remained only one artist in the family. Shifting my eyes downward and to the right, I felt an empty part of my heart shallow out even deeper. There in the corner sat the violin that brought joy into the eyes of the listener whenever it was fiddled by my mother. She had brought this house to life and anyone else who would listen to the smooth sound, but not anymore. Silence had been written on the score for the longest time and had told me things would never be the same.

We arrived at the cemetery that afternoon and made our way to the old cedar tree. We had not been to our parents’ grave since last Christmas. It wasn’t because we didn’t care about them, but rather the thought about staring down at a constant reminder of our loss. Under the giant tree were the tombstones which read, “Here lies Delia Zenith, mother, and Paul Zenith, father.”

“Mother, Father. Not anymore,” I said out loud. I was not sure if I upset Spencer with this because he bit his lip. He would surely have said so if it really did upset him since we had no secrets, but he said nothing. We lay down some fresh tulips and sat in front of the tombstones in silence.

We arrived home just as the sun had set and lay side by side on the front lawn just as we always did.

“Remember, we were just getting home at this time after playing guitar down at the Market. It’s funny. I saw a police officer on the way home today too, except he’s not sitting on our door step,” I said to Spencer. I could hear him trying to match his breathing with mine.

“It’s still unreal to me. Every time I walk into that house I think I’m going to see mom in the living room with her music, but she’s not there. Then I go upstairs to the studio and dad isn’t in there painting,” said Spencer.

“I know, but…” I didn’t finish the sentence. Although I had heard those words spoken from Spencer more than once, I couldn’t help but notice the note of remorse in his voice. There was something different about him today. He somehow seemed paranoid of speaking as if he might say the wrong words.

“Spencer?” I whispered. “Is there something wrong? You can tell me you know.”

“No. Let’s go inside now, it’s getting chilly,” Spencer’s voice quivered as he spoke, and I knew there was something he was not telling me.



The End

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