A very short story based on feelings of confliction and rejection.
I sat down on the hard oak bench next to the booth and set my grey Jansport backpack down. The walls were painted a pukey yellow color, and there were fake potted plants everywhere. I was curiously inspecting the Hobby Lobby orchids on the table next to me, when the sound of my brother’s footsteps down the long corridor made me finally turn my head. John looked expensive. Gelled back hair and a nice silk blue tie. Very lawyer-y.
“Aw, you dressed up just for me?”
“No way, Theo-I’m meeting a client after. This all you have?”
“Let’s go home.”
He walked closely beside me, but didn’t put his arm around my shoulder like he used to. I wanted him to. We walked up to a shiny black Mercedes-Benz, and he pulled out his keys. I whistled and inspected the car.
“New ride, huh?”
“Yeah. Gift from Mom and Dad after I passed my bar exam.”
“Do you think they’ll get me one, because I passed my mental health exam?”
There was an immediate flash of anger in his eyes as he looked up at me. I put my hands up and chuckled.
“Hey, it was a joke.”
I looked out the window as he backed out of the parking lot. As the car moved down the street, Greenville got smaller and smaller. I stared at it until it was just a dot on the horizon. It had been my home for 5 months, since It happened. I didn’t mind staying there. Group therapy wasn’t that bad, every Thursday was movie night, and I played ping pong in the rec area. The only downside was the pills. I hated them. When I first came, I took them because I wanted to get better. They made me really tired and muted sounds. It felt worse than being drunk. After a few weeks, I started hiding the pills under my tongue. They were bitter when they melted, but I learned how to get to the bathroom fast enough to spit them out and flush them down the toilet.
John pulled the car into the driveway, and I climbed out.
“I don’t think they’re home. Mom’s at the store and Dad’s probably at work.”
“Are you going to stay?”
“No, I have an appointment.”
He watched as I opened the front door with the key and then drove away. I dropped my backpack in the foyer and kicked off my Converse, making my way to the living room.
She immediately dropped all her grocery bags and gave me a hug. I let my long arms hang awkwardly down my sides.
“He had a client.”
“Have you eaten yet?”
“I’ll make dinner. We’ll eat as a family.”
As I helped her bring the bags to the kitchen, she smiled and touched my cheek.
“I’m really glad you’re home.”
She was beginning to tear up, so I hurried upstairs before the waterworks came. I made a beeline to my bedroom and stepped inside. I breathed a sigh of relief. Everything was still the same. It looked like no one had gone into my room since I left. I flopped onto my bed and stared at the old glow-in-the-dark stars on the ceiling. They didn’t even shine anymore, but I just couldn’t take them down. When I was a kid, I used to close my eyes and imagine going into space-reaching out to the stars and feeling weightless in zero gravity. Everything would be silent, and I would be alone, floating along the nebulous galaxy. Voices downstairs woke me from my daydream.
I slowly got up and walked downstairs. Dad turned and gave me a once over.
I let him push past me as he walked to the master bedroom. Why was I even surprised? He never came to visit me. Of course-he would never want to accept that his son was the psycho who tried to drown himself in the swimming pool. I felt a dull ache in the pit of my stomach.
“Give him some time.”
“It’s been 5 months.”
“He’s just trying to deal with what happened.”
“It’s different now.”
“I know, honey. Go wash up for dinner.”
The sound of the Mercedes pulling into the driveway made both of us turn around. My mother began to set the table.
I went outside and watched him get out.
“Have you seen him yet?”
He walked past me and into the kitchen, briefcase in hand. I sat outside on the back porch for a couple minutes. Inside, John and my father were talking.
“I picked him up this afternoon.”
“Did you look at the discharge papers?”
“Yeah, his doctor cleared him already.”
“Has he talked about what happened?”
“To me? No.”
“Why did he even-”
“I don’t know.”
“Is he still on meds?”
I could see my father shaking his head and gesturing towards me through the blinds.
That night, the pain in my stomach reached an unbearable level. I stood up slowly. I felt numb all over. I grabbed the keys hanging on the hook by the door and let my legs lead me outside to John’s car. My hands were shaking as I pulled the door open and climbed in the driver’s seat. I can’t remember what exactly happened, but I do remember pressing on the accelerator until I couldn’t see anything clearly outside the window. The streetlights and buildings all blurred into a single stroke of color, and I couldn’t hear anything else beside the roar of the motor. Suddenly, I closed my eyes felt a weightless sensation; I was finally in my zero gravity dream. I felt a sharp shooting pain as my body slammed into something rough and hard, and then nothing at all. All around me, police sirens and the cars wailed and screeched around me, but I just stared at the night sky that held a thin fragile veil of twinkling stars.