Chris loved the weekends. He would leave the barracks and go spend Friday night, Saturday, and Sunday at his family’s ranch before driving back to base Sunday night. It was always the highlight of his week. Four day weekends were even better, since that meant two extra days to annoy his little brother, as well as help his parents out around the house. This was one of those weekends, so as soon as he got home from work he packed up his bags and headed out. Mom usually had dinner waiting fi him and he didn’t want it to get cold.
The door was opened even before he stepped foot on the porch. His mom pulled him into a tight hug, followed by his dad, and lastly his little brother Charles. His parents ushered him inside, and his mom had a plate waiting on the table, as usual.
“So, son, how’s work been going?” his dad asked as Chris dug in.
Chris nodded. “Pretty good actually. I’m on the board for a promotion right now. I’ll find out next week if I made the cut.”
His mom smiled. “I’m proud of you honey.”
Chris nodded again. He didn’t have the heart to tell his mother that if he got the promotion, it increased his chances of getting deployed. He didn’t like to throw that kind of news on them, especially this early in the visit.
Charles noticed the look on his face though. Chris shook his head just slightly, and Charles knew that meant to keep quiet. Chris would tell him later.
“How are things here?” Chris asked, changing the subject.
His dad nodded. “Pretty good.” He started talking about the business and how well it was doing. Chris didn’t intentionally tune his father out, but the food was just so good…
Charles was so happy to have Chris home. He always felt lost without his older brother there, helping and guiding him. Chris just knew so much about the world, and Charles didn’t know how he would ever live up to his brother.
But he could also tell that something was off. So as soon as their parents went to bed and the boys were sent to the barn, Charles started asking questions.
Chris sighed, kicking off his boots as he laid down on the bed. “Charles, listen. I love you. I do. But I’ve had a long day and I just want to sleep, okay? I promise that tomorrow, I’ll take you out around town and we can talk. But for now, I need rest.”
Charles nodded. “Okay. Sorry for bugging you.”
Chris was already asleep.
Charles sighed too. He turned his back to his brother and pulled the sheets up to his chin, closing his eyes. Before long, sleep overtook him.