I consider this to be a writing exercise. I dunno, it was late last night, and I felt like conveying emotion through writing. So I sat down on my bed for three hours (I have a tendency of breaking off to stare into space when I write), forfeiting sleep (I believe I got a total of four hours), but I finished it. This is the first story-esque thingy I have ever finished outside of school assignments. How odd. And yes, it is confusing: it is supposed to be confusing. That said, for you idiots, words spoken in italics are the ones she is remembering. Aw, just read it. . .
She knew she shouldn't have said it. Could see it, in the way expressions smooth over and blank, muscles relax, decision made. She had been angry, though now, sitting stunned, it seemed a ridiculous concept. Suddenly there was too much space, so much room to breathe that she might get heady from it. Things had seemed close and hot when he had been leaning over the counter, ignoring the bills in the pile of mail and looking vacantly for something that wouldn't be there. She should have left him, let him deal with his emotions how he saw fit, though she knew he needed to cry but was too stubborn to let it out.
The pale flash of a tiny face: her younger brother. He should have been in bed, but the dry, stifling night air would keep any young and restless child up. She should have gone to bed, tugging him with her, give him a scolding that would be grudgingly taken with an outthrust lower lip. Rather that, than hear the choked whimper as the door slammed in a final, obnoxious boom of sound. Loud enough to proclaim domestic problems; trivial arguments stirring an uncomfortable anger for those neighbors close enough to hear and resent the intrusion.
She looked at her hands, folded neatly on her knees, forcing down a gulp that might turn into a sob. She didn't know if that innocent presence was still there, confused and upset. Not so innocent now, really—who was she kidding? Aware enough to try and comfort her, picking up pieces and cutting himself in the process. She shifted, the moist flesh on the back of her thighs sticking to the wood of the chair she'd collapsed into. God, was she sweating that much? How long, now? She resisted the urge to pull at her earlobe: a nervous habit. Should. . .should many things. Too upset to do any good. Her breath was hitching in the back of her throat.
"Dad, stop it."
The whimper pulled at her in remembrance, her mind already trying to sort out the mess, merciless and taunting. Her fingers clenched. Had she almost hit him? Him with his stubble and greasy hair, larger, wrinkled hands twitching in response. He'd probably been drinking. Driven by her, he was probably getting drunk at the moment.
She'd seen him there on account of pure happenstance, her already dressed for bed in her careless shorts and oversized t-shirt. Getting a book she'd forgotten on the tiny, scarred table that had been. . .still was, really, a mirror of the family. She thought she saw movement in the corner of her eye and straightened slightly. Nothing too bad. No crying, no anger. Just thoughts.
"You know 'what'."
She'd taken the book in both hands, bending it even though she hated that same habit in other people. Him, slouching backward, one hand on the edge of the counter, the other sitting so casually, so Goddamn possessively over the mail. She could see the tiny form, creeping closer and sighed, drudging a smile. Her eyes clouded suddenly, and she ducked her head, scratching at it determinably. Don't cry. . .
"Leave it, girl."
". . .Bree?"
He'd growled, shooting a sideways glare at her, the kind she'd used to give in the throes of teenage temper. He'd been struggling with that immature I-hate-you feeling, his jaw muscles tightened. And she, so tired, so. . .sick of it. Wanting to move on, ready to snap at any excuse. Forgetting that gentler, sensitive ears were nearby.
"Don't tell me that."
She'd edged closer, he'd hovered protectively. His space, her certainty that he was going to tear them apart. Forgetting everything else. She was stressed; he was avoiding work. Ignoring the fact that he was a person as well, and couldn't be the responsible adult all the time, no matter that he was supposed to. She knew better, had been the mature one. But she kept deluding herself, sinking into selfish pity. As if he had nothing to be upset over. Then that tiny form at her elbow, inquisitive eyes, questioning and wanting assurance.
"Where did daddy go?"
"What the hell you think you're saying? Don't get snotty with me, Bree."
She pulled him up, him barely resisting. Her father had stared at her hard, enraged, lonely, in search of comfort that she was too self-absorbed to give. They'd been avoiding each other, even little Christopher. He shouldn't be hearing harsh words. He shouldn't. . .know what he did. She closed her eyes.
"He needed some fresh air. No biggie."
"Maybe if you weren't some old drunk, I wouldn't need to be!"
He'd gotten angry at that. He had always been careful, even before. . .(slow breaths, smile.) he never got drunk when they were around. Some beers every now and then. But she'd never known him to be a drunk. Even with all that had happened. . .the burden shifted, face screwed up in flickering thoughts.
"Why were you so mad, then?"
"What the hell do you know?"
Quiet, dangerous. He'd turned away from the mail. He'd looked almost calm, but for the angry lines around his eyes and mouth. Yeah, almost calm. Almost sober, almost drunk, almost all right. She'd been wanting to take her sharp tongue to someone, forgotten the respect due to her hard-working father. She seemed to have forgotten that an ass can only be tolerated for so long.
"I. . .was being a brat. You know."
"You're being delusional! God, you're pathetic!"
Christopher giggled slightly, the sound tiny and almost fake. The way he had suddenly. . .grown enraged, her own temper had seemed tiny and laughable. But she was stubborn, tactlessly idiotic.
"Like when you wouldn't let me play outside 'cause my room was messy?"
". . .Are you trying to bait me? Who exactly do you think you are speaking to, young lady?"
That clarity, like so many times when she'd flagrantly disobeyed a rule, had been the first warning.
"No, not like that, silly. Like when I'd make faces at you because you wanted to watch a different show on TV, and . . .dad would make me watch your show."
"Someone who should be a father, but is too busy avoiding his problems that he's failing miserably!"
He'd taken a step as she had, hands clenched, trembling. She'd seen the movement, been too absorbed in her argument to care. Had she been relieved, picking a fight like that? Had she?
"Bree. Go to your room. NOW."
"Why should I listen to you?!"
"You should get to bed."
He'd turned away slightly, suddenly shoving his hands into his pockets, forcing himself to calm down. To be the adult. To accept and forgive her intentional baiting. But she'd been so angry. . .so senselessly angry. Angry at who knows what. She'd stepped closer, hand raised and he'd turned, eyes narrowed, hands coming out of his pockets. Moved as if to grab her wrist, stop her himself; stop her and make her realize she was acting like a child.
Last warning; a threat.
"What about you?"
He was scared, afraid she too would leave him.
"I hate you, you know."
Was she cynical? Bitter?
"I'll. . .stay up for a little while longer."
He'd grabbed her wrist. She had snapped.
"Oh. . .okay. 'Night, Bree. . .love you."
That last said quickly, almost an afterthought. His fear was plain in his voice as he slid off of her lap, accepting her hand as she murmured the same. She bent over to kiss him on the forehead, feeling the pressure in her chest move up to her eyes.
"They're dead, raped, or worse. . .whatever worse could be. . .but they're not coming back! Get over it!"
He stared. A whimper had sounded. She was shaking. He'd taken a step back, trembled, turned away.
"Sometimes, I wish I never had any kids."
Muttered, his feet pounding the floor.
"Fuck you, dad!"
Her mother would have washed her mouth with soap. She wished. . .oh God, she wished. . .
Pause in the footsteps, door slamming. Her older sister would have told her to grow up.
She'd dropped into a chair, knowing he was going to be gone for a long time, and it was only because of her stupidity.
The room was empty, Christopher gone. Somewhere a clock was ticking desolately. She got up to get a drink. Shaking, too young for this burden, she dropped the glass, only making a half-hearted attempt at catching it.
It broke into chunks, splinters flying across the floor.
She stared at it, not moving. Her feet were bare, her legs were bare, but her cheeks were getting warm. Uncaring, cold in the oppressive heat, she sat down hard and started to cry.
Eh, I know it doesn't really feel finished, but I am inexperienced in endings, heh. Lemme know what you think, if you so desire, and as always I expect total honesty. Thank you for taking the time to read.