Author: Nocturnal silhouette PM
of loss and discovery. a battle of wills and a life time of guilt. Short story. CompleteRated: Fiction T - English - Romance/Angst - Words: 3,014 - Reviews: 7 - Favs: 6 - Published: 11-03-05 - id: 2041818
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
LeafA.N. I really have no idea where this idea came from. All I know is that it would not leave me. I apologize for this story for it is not my usual mode of writing. Also it is done in first person, something that I do not habitually do. Again, I apologize for this story, and hope that you will like it regardless. I am rather pleased with it, for it was a challenge.
It's amazing what we remember at random times in our life, vague, seemingly unimportant things that we lock deep inside our brain until a sudden connection brings them forward. I remember a time only three weeks before my 17th birthday, lying on my bed in a period of pure laziness. It was mid-fall, the large oak tree with scarred bark outside my window already fading from its emerald brilliance into a display of reds, oranges, topaz majesty. The window was fully up despite the deathly cold chill that haunted the late afternoon. Invisible fingers lifted my satin blue curtains, caressing before sweeping throughout my room, making me shiver, making me tremble, making me smile. I had closed my eyes, luxuriating in the earthen scents that surrounded me, decaying leaves and moist, rich soil. A particularly frozen wind swirled around my body, brushing something soft against my arm. I opened my eyes, surprised to see a single leaf resting near my elbow, deep blood red in color, perfection in its fall beauty. Such grace, such beauty, such perfection, a large leaf making a stand against time. It was invincible. And it was then that my brothers words from so long ago sang throughout my head. A five year old version of himself climbing up the large oak tree while I gazed adoringly up at him, in awe at his proud stance as he stood on a thick branch, calling down to me.
'I'll never die Amara! I'll live forever!"
He died two weeks later after I found the leaf, a week short of our birthday. Father and Son went into town to get supplies.
Only Father came back alive.
I remember begging for them to let me go with them, pleading with them. Let me go. Let me go into town with you, I had said. But they only smiled, replied that it was a man's night out. That night, my other half detached from me. That night, I lost my twin brother.
I didn't cry at the funeral. Instead, I sat there, my eyes frozen on a black coffin in front of me. Glossy, with gold edges, the coffin should have been beautiful, would have been beautiful but for the fact that it contained Colby, my beautiful dead brother.
I became lost after his funeral, returning to school wearing his old varsity football sweatshirt. Before I had been known as Amara, one half of the school's only twins. Now I was the girl with the dead brother, but I didn't care. I could see people, see their sympathy, see their questions, but I ignored them. I didn't want to talk to people, see people, wanted only to submerge into myself, be alone with myself. For Colby had been that vital portion of me. We had done everything together, practiced football together, helping him with plays, done our homework together, gone places together. But now he had gone to the only place I couldn't join him.
And I blamed myself.
Maybe if I hadn't allowed that thought of him so long ago in the tree to pass through my mind, my brother would not have died. Perhaps it was a memory that should never have been allowed to revive itself, meant to be lost within the caverns and neurons of my brain. But I had let it through. I had allowed that challenging memory to escape. And the Grim Reaper stole my twin because of it.
My father sank into a depression, blaming himself for Colby's death. But I didn't care. I was as much to blame as he was, how could I comfort when fault rested on my shoulders. I remember lying in bed one night, my mother having kicked my father out of the bedroom to sleep on the couch, and softly, I could hear his sobs through the thin walls of my house. I fell asleep to sounds of agony that night, my own harsh tears adding to the melancholy symphony.
It was a few months after Colby's death that I tried to return to my old self, if only for a few moments. Playing a practical joke on my mother, one only twins could perform, the very same joke that would make her smile and laugh at our antics. It was the same joke we had played all our lives. But this time was different. She didn't laugh. Instead she turned and cried. Colby had always been her favorite. And now she was left with me. Only me. Father and Son day should have been Father and Daughter. Daughter should have died. Son should have lived.
Son should have lived.
After that, I gave up trying to become my old self. I was lost without Colby, for he was that part of me that truly lived, truly existed. With him gone, I was only a shell, a feminine exterior of emptiness. I dove into my studies, pouring my soul into them, for hard work kept my mind off of Colby. I graduated a year later Valedictorian.
The girl with the dead brother.
I suppose it was lucky we lived in an area with a university nearby, for I attended there. I couldn't leave Colby, couldn't separate myself from his grave, from his memory. Again I dove into my studies, no relationships to sooth me. To keep me occupied. For what was a relationship? You dated, you fell in love. And then they leave you or they die. Always in the end, you're left alone.
In the end, death always wins.
Then I met Michael.
Michael with his tall, powerful frame. His gorgeous deep brown eyes, his large hands, a man too beautiful, too sensual for the ugly shortened name of 'Mike'. He was Michael, and he was mine. He understood my withdrawn ways, tried to bring me out of my self-caused enclosing, but even with his gentle prodding I couldn't. I found myself comparing him to Colby. What Colby should have been. How Colby should have looked like. Colby with his brilliant blue eyes, with his short, messy dark brown hair, his tall lanky frame. He had had the body of a quarterback, with an easy smile to reign in the girls.
All traits and attributes lost in a grave with a cold, stone marker resting on top.
I remember telling Michael of Colby, of our childish antics, and Michael listened, holding me. Just holding me. I could feel a solid chest beneath my head; large warm hands around my waist and twisted in the dull brown strands of my hair. I craved comfort, knew it was a comfort only Michael could give me. And that night, I surrendered to my destiny, allowing Michael to have free reign with my body, sighing in pleasure as he filled me with his own body, stretching me, completing me.
It was the first time since Colby had died that I had felt whole again.
But relationships never last. People die, people leave each other, and broken hearts suffer. I stayed with Michael for three years, loving how he could complete me, but never allowing myself to truly love him. He loved me I knew, could see it as he held me, as he looked at me. And I knew I loved him. But I couldn't say it. I could never say it. I was again made a shell, fragile and easily broken. My exterior remained, but inside, I had already shattered. I had become obsessed with my dead brother, he had said, and maybe he was right. In doing so, I had destroyed myself. But I had killed Colby. Michael deserved much better then a murderer like me.
With Michael gone, I studied even more, advancing my already fantastic grades until I could graduate. Bachelor, Master, Doctorate, each degree I received blurring into one. Academically I had succeeded. I smiled faintly the day I received my Doctorate, for it was then that I realized my hard work had finally paid off. Holding the highest degree I could get within my palms, my name written clearly on the line, I searched out my parents. My father smiled faintly at me. My mother only scowled.
Son should have lived.
I bought my own home soon after, my degree granting me the ability to capture a job worth more then working at the local mini-mart as I had done during college. It was my father who helped me move in my furniture, father who helped me paint my walls, set up color schemes.
My mother wanted nothing to do with me, or my degrees, or my house.
In the beginning, shortly after Colby had died, knowing that my own mother didn't love me anymore had hurt, the pain of it lessened only by the loss of my brother. Father had apologized for her.
It only took a few months before he stopped apologizing for her altogether.
Son should have lived.
I had settled into a relatively easy way of life, when Michael came back into my life. Return from work, a knock at the door, Michael there as he had been in my dreams. He hugged me then, pulling me closer to his body, and I melted into his strength. Years we had been apart. Years. A lifetime. Love remaining.
"I can't compete Amara," he had said to me as he stroked my back. "I'm not Colby. I never will be. But I love you."
"Then why did you take so long to come back to me Michael?" I had asked in return, pain lacing my voice.
"You needed to find yourself, needed to separate from Colby. Look at you. Successful. Beautiful. Yet hanging on only barely. Let it go Amara. Be with me again."
I could only shake my head at him, tears gathering at the corners of my eyes, but I swallowed them. Michael would hate me if he knew I was the cause of Colby's death. Would leave me again. If he did, I knew this time I wouldn't be able to survive it.
"Why can't you be with me?" his voice was breaking, deep and husky. It was mid-fall again, near the anniversary of Colby's death, and the wind crept throughout my house from the open door. It was that icy wind that kept my tears at bay. Tears that had not fallen since Colby.
"You don't want to be with a murderer Michael," I said, trying desperately to steady myself as I prepared myself for his final departure from my life. I knew somewhere upstairs I had pills. Maybe I could overdose on them, overdose and finally be with Colby again.
Son should have lived. Daughter would finally die.
"You didn't kill him Amara," Michael whispered fiercely into my ear. "It was an accident. Nothing more."
"But I thought of the memory. I thought of it. And death wanted to punish him. It took Colby from me. It took him. Just like it will take you Michael. And I'll be alone again. Alone without Colby….or you."
He stared at me then, his dark eyes peering deeply into my soul. Bravely, I let him look. There was nothing but emptiness there anyway. Abruptly he took hold of my hand, dragging me from my house. My door remained wide open as he pushed me gently into his car, driving away, ignoring my protests, my pleas. I tried to scramble away when the cemetery gates came into view. I could feel him, could feel Colby's presence here, and I needed to get away.
But Michael would not let me.
He grabbed my hand again, forcing me through the gates, up the road to a secluded section of the graveyard. It was there that I saw it, a massive headstone protruding from the dark earth.
I fell to my knees on his grave, my tears falling freely, wetting the soil. I clutched at the head stone, running my fingers over the carved name, wailing in sorrow. I cried out his name, whispering my misdeed towards him, what caused his death, begging for forgiveness. I pounded the earth with my palms as sorrow turned to anger, anger at him for leaving me, for leaving me behind, for taking so much of me with him.
Son should have lived.
Son should have lived and daughter should have died.
It was Michael who caught me in his arms when my body, devoid of 10 years worth of stored emotions, fell limp against the dull marker. Michael who soothed me, who calmed me, who gave me strength. Just as he always had. I was a wreck I knew; yet Michael stared at me as though I were the most beautiful creature in the world.
"I love you," I told him, my voice weak, yet my convictions strong. "I love you Michael."
Standing before Colby's grave, I finally let myself go. And when Michael began to kiss me, I felt something leave me, misery perhaps, and a part of myself returning. Colby hadn't left me, I realized. I had instead taken his place. I was Amara and Colby in one. Deep within my heart, I felt his soul with me, comforting me. I felt his forgiveness, and in doing so, I finally forgave myself. And in front of Colby's grave, I laughed for the first time in 10 years; my tear-streaked head tilting back to look at a star laden sky. A midnight blue blanket.
With not a hint of clouds.
We left the cemetery hand in hand, a smile on my face. Michael wanted to go back to my house; my door was still open after all, yet I directed him to my house, rather my parent's house. Using the key that still rested beneath the mat, I crept into the familiar kitchen. I paused to run my hands over countertops, memories flooding me. Colby and I running through the kitchen out the backdoor when we were children, running to our tree. Michael grasped my arm, tugging me from my memory, from my countertop.
I lead the way up the stairs, hearing the snores of my parents down the hall. I passed my old room, the door wide open, and I peered in briefly before passing it by. Instead I walked even further down the hall, stopping in front of a closed door. My hand rose, rested on the doorknob, and I twisted it, pushing it gently open, pausing as I took in a sight I had not seen in 10 years.
I flicked the light switch, blinking when the sudden light filtered throughout the room. Metallica posters still hung on the walls, Pink Floyd, and AC/DC. His guitar, a black Gibson, still lay within its case near his closet.
Colby the musician.
My brother the metal head.
I led Michael into the room, seating him on a bed that was done up exactly as it had been those years ago when my brother still breathed. He sat on the bed, watching me as I explored Colby's room, knowing without my having to say anything that I needed to do this. I ran fingers over dusty books; Lord of the Rings, and ancient metal magazines. One large book caught my eye, and I gently pulled it from the shelf. The edges were worn, as though Colby had opened it a thousand times. I lifted the hard book cover, gasping when a single leaf fell to the carpeted floor. Blood red in color, perfection incarnate.
The leaf from my room that late afternoon so long ago.
Laughing softly, memories flooded me. Remembrance of me running down the hall, barging through his door, presenting him with the leaf that had entered my window. He had scoffed at both me and my excitement, yet he had taken it, reaching up to his bookshelf and grabbing a book to keep it in.
In my hazy mind, I heard Michael clear his throat, and I looked at him in surprise, shaken from my reverie. My father stood in the doorway, his arms crossed, looking much older then his actual years.
'Daddy," I whispered, before he cut me off. Not with words, but with a hug. A soul-stealing, tightly confining hug. And for the first time in 10 years, I watched as my father broke in front of me, in my arms.
I let him cry, held him as close as I could, Daughter comforting Father.
"He kept the leaf daddy," I said to him as tears began to mist in my own eyes. "It still survives. Colby is gone yes, but he lives on daddy. He lives on inside me. Inside you. We've punished ourselves enough."
I watched as my father pulled back slightly, emotions flickering across his blue eyes before he nodded.
"Colby lives Amara. And one day we'll see him again."
"Colby will always be a part of me daddy. But right now, I'm going to live my life for the both of us. I'm going to live the life Colby can't."
Father buried his head into my neck again, and I hugged him tightly Michael watching over us. Mother, hearing the commotion, came into the room. Releasing my father, I went into her arms.
And this time, they were open for me.
The son had died.
But the daughter lived on.