A Break in the Habit

Laurie

I watched my neighbor walk back to his car and I turned quickly, while ignoring my fast beating heart, towards my own car. That was the second time that he had spoken to me and I could not allow myself to think of any budding romances. It would only be a matter of time before the new students would hear about my status in the school, and after what had happened with Kelly I couldn't chance opening up myself to anyone. 

I unlocked my car door just as the blue Nissan Infiniti flew past behind me. I looked at the shadowy shapes of the triplets as they grew smaller in the distance and forced myself to look away. After urning the key in the ignition, my little Toyota Echo purred to life and I drove steadily out of the now busy and deeply shadowed by trees, parking lot. 

I had not forgotten his name since that first day in class. I instantly could tell him apart from his brother, Zack, who I had recognized from some films that had been teenage favorites.  Zack wore a carefree, almost childish smile in contrast to his brother's dare-me smirk. One had a confidence that appeared natural, while the other one showed that he was a true actor. 

Michel Logan. Michel Logan. That was his name, I would never forget it.

I drove up the gravel driveway and parked the car behind my mom's silver SUV. Gabrielle wasn't home yet from his football practice and from what I could see, the Logans weren't home either. The wind blew the wind chimes that I had hung on the trees that surrounded the house and gently tugged at the car door as I opened it. 

Mom was sitting on the porch in our wicker bench, her long brown hair was tied back and loose wisps of curly, rebellious hair flew around her face. She was looking at a photo album and her age was more visible than ever. As I walked up the short path towards the front of our house, her finger ran slowly down a large picture on one of the pages.

"Mom," I said, immediately breaking her out of her reverie. "Hey, what's going on?"

"Laurie," her voice was low and she closed the album roughly. "How was your day sweetheart?" 

I stopped in front of the porch and stared up at my mother's sad smile. "It was fine... Are you okay mom?"

She nodded and held out her hand, which I grabbed as I walked up the short flight of stairs. "I'm just tired." 

I sat beside her and I heard the wicker bench slightly creak under my weight. "Me too."

"I haven't seen Kelly for a couple of weeks, is everything all right?" She asked.

I shook my head and sighed. "No," I looked ahead of me, the memories from the night of our fight swimming in front of me. "Everything is wrong."

"Life," she said as she fumbled with the front of the photo album, which I had noticed was her wedding album. "Has a funny way of reminding you about reality."

***

It was nearly eight at night when I heard the rumbling of my brother's truck as it pulled up behind my own car. Working on my math homework had drained me, so I stood up from my desk and went to my opened bedroom window. Peeking down, I watched my brother pull his gym bag out of the bed of the truck. He was crunching his way up the driveway when he suddenly stopped. I couldn't see or hear what he was looking at, but I knew that his curiosity had been attracted by something out of my line of sight. Then I saw the headlights of dad's new Mustang as it slowly drove up our street and into our driveway. 

Gabrielle, all six feet of him, stood still while watching our father get out with a suitcase in hand. 

"Hey Gab," dad said as he passed by him, rubbing my brother's short dark curls. Dad was the tall one of the family and while I had gained mom's tiny stature, Gabrielle had been gifted with his height, as well as his serious facial features: icy blue eyes, deep cheek bones, and a thin set of lips.

"Dad," Gabrielle said, his voice was so quiet that I had to strain to hear. "You're home early."

Dad stopped before he was out of my line of sight.

"Did you finish all of your accounting papers?" Gabrielle ventured while steadily approach our dad from behind. "Or did you just finish with all of your female clients?"

A sound that challenged that of a thunder clap broke the silence of the night as I stared wide eyed at my father's raised hand. Gabrielle stood rigid with his face turned away from dad and I could see a faint smirk of anger growing on his handsome face. "I guess so." He answered his own question.

I heard the front door close and Gabrielle was left alone in the same position as before. I inhaled a long breathe and he looked up at me. The purple drapes of my bedroom swirled in endless loops with the blowing fall wind beside me as my brother and I made eye contact. He didn't say anything after several seconds and walked out of my line of sight and into the house. 

The End

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