Part Twenty-SixMature

"Seb, do you have to love someone in order to care about them?"

My brother looks up at me, seemingly confused as to why I would break the silence we've been sitting in.


"I dunno. Something made me feel the need to ask."

He frowns. "What, just randomly?"

I shrug. "Yeah, I guess."

"Well, the answer is no," he smiles a bit. "Or at least I don't think so."

It's an acceptable answer, and it's actually the one I was expecting, but something is still niggling at me like a spider that suddenly disappeared.

"But if you love someone, that means you have to care about them, right?"

"You don't have to care about them. It's simply that you do." He looks at me curiously.

"Is that why Daniel cares about you?"

It just slips out, and I regret it instantly, but Seb doesn't react the way I expect him to.

"No," he says quietly. "No. I'd like it to be, but it's not. Dan cares about me because I'm fragile, and he has to help anyone who seems that way.

"Oh." The pain in his voice has put a lump in my throat, and it's all I can say before my voice catches. 

I kneel beside him and put my arms around his neck, resting my head on his shoulder.

He sighs. "You are the best little sister I could ask for."

I don't say anything because I feel like the worst little sister.

I've promised not to tell him a truth that will make him happy. I can't get him to eat properly, and I can't even be sure he isn't hurting himself.

How is that being a good sister?


The next day, while Daniel and I are waiting for the rest of the group to turn up, I tell him about the conversation.

He stares straight ahead as he's listening, and assures me that he knows Seb thinks like that.

His eyes are glistening.

When I ask him if he's all right, he nods.

"I just thought..."

Then everyone else enters the gazebo at the same time, so he quickly composes himself and greets them all with a grin.

The End

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