Paul has always been my mother's favorite. I don't know if it was because of his asthma, but I could tell that she thought of him a little more than of me.
That's why I didn't even look up when Paul told mom that he was going out to a party at eight at night. I continued biting into my mozzarella-covered pasta. Mom questioned him on a few key points and he answered them accordingly, like a movie star. It all ended with the closing of the front door.
"Should you be more careful with what he does with his life?" I inquire softly while taking a sip of my root beer.
I feel my mom's stare burning a hole into the center of my head, but she doesn't respond.
"I'm just saying." I concluded before leaving the table.
I know that she will be dwelling on the question. Paul may be her favorite, but I am the most practical of the two. I climb up the short stairs to my room and grab my cell phone mid-ring.
"Hello?" I answer patiently in case it is a girl.
"Charlie! Hey, how are you?" It's Michelle, one of my buddy's girlfriends.
"I'm good, looking for Ned again?" I chuckle quietly at my own inside joke. Ned and Michelle have been dating for a couple of years now--since the beginning of grade nine-- and Michelle still doesn't know what she has gotten herself into. Ned is one of my best friends and his playing ways are known amongst us well. When Michelle kisses Ned, she is probably kissing half of the city.
"Yes! This sounds familiar huh?" Her voice is slightly down.
"Perhaps. I would try the bowling lanes... or, there's a party tonight." I answer, feeling a need to go have a good time with my friends necessary.
"Sounds good, thanks Charlie!" She replies, ready to end the call.
"Wait," I interrupt her goodbyes, "if I were to ask you for someone's phone number, would you happen to have it?"
"Depends on who it is."
There is a pause as I decide on what to tell her. "Well, do you know Lorena Torrez?"
"Who?" Her voice is genuinely curious and I sigh softly.
"Never mind, I'll see you at the party." I say before hanging up.
Her house is one of the largest on the block. Rumor has it that her dad is a lawyer. One light is on up on the third floor and another solitary window is lit on the bottom level. There is a large gate blocking out the world and I can see multiple flowers, whose names I don't know, decorating the large stone mansion. A Mercedes Benz sits idle on the long driveway and trees lead you up to the front door.
I want to call out to her, but my voice might be lost in the wind. There is a small bell hanging a bit farther in that is ringing out an unreachable tune. I cling onto one of the black steel gates and I close my eyes while pressing my face against the cold metal. I vaguely remember my suave move that I had pulled earlier and Lorena's soft blush.
The streets of Richmond Hill, Toronto are abandoned tonight and I enjoy my moment of solitude with the possibility of catching a glimpse of her. I am about to press the buzzer to let her know that I want to see her, when my phone begins to vibrate in my pocket.
"Hello?" I answer, my eyes catching movement in the third storey window.
"Mom's going to be mad." It's Charlie. His little worries and hints bother me, they remind me of how weak I can truly be.
"Why would she?" I ask, challenging him.
"Because you aren't at the party. Where are you?"
"I thought you weren't going to the party." I slowly turn my back on Lorena's home and steadily begin my walk towards my street.
"Where are you?" He asks again.
"On my way."
I watch him leave. I can see everything from here, no matter how far from the streets we are. I know that it was Paul and not Charlie, simply because of his shocking hair.
I stayed seated and thought of nothing. Soon my dad would lose himself in his office again and I would be put on night watch. Soon another bottle of whiskey would be gone and what would I have? The darkness of my house? The reminder that the one brother that I don't want is fighting his way into my thoughts?
I will only have myself and perhaps an empty alcohol bottle.
In some odd way, I felt the need to have Paul watching me again, observing my movements and trying to fight his way into my life, but these two brothers are strangers to me. My heart may beat for one, but it knows both as strangers.
I want to run out and ask Paul why he is so intrigued, why the sudden interest? But my father's voice begins to echo loudly around the house and I am prepared to go on duty.
I walk to my door, book to read in hand, and I turn back to stare out the large window on the opposite wall and take in the darkness of the night. I turn off the lights seconds later and close the door.