By Aetis Ceno

I walked along the roadside, pausing as I came to a groove in the pavement. Bending over, I ran my hand along it, sighing sadly as tears welled up in my eyes. I followed the groove into the ditch. The grass hadn't grown back yet, but at least the rain had washed away the blood. I don't think I could stand to see the blood again.

My eyes turned back to the road. They hadn't put up the white cross yet, but I didn't need that to tell me where he'd died.

I fell into the dirt, sobbing. My hand went to my pocket for the pistol. I'd almost gotten it out when I noticed the car.

Turning abruptly, I stared at the formless mass that had stopped beside me. I looked away, wiping the tears from my eyes. When I turned back, I saw him open the door.

"Kyle, get in the car."

I thought of the gun. I could finish it right now. I wouldn't have to listen to his pitiful planned speeches and see the accusations in his eyes. I wouldn't have to go home. I wouldn't have to see my mother cry again.

I wiped my tears away again. Now wasn't the time, I didn't want him to have to see it. I stood up, my knees wobbling slightly. I crawled out of the ditch and walked to the passenger side door, which he opened for me.

As I sat down, the stench of alcohol and cigarets assaulted what was left of my sense of smell. For someone who never drove drunk, he sure as hell spent a lot of time vomiting out the windows. I stared into the distance; I didn't want to see him, and more importantly, I didn't want him to see me.

"Kyle, you've got to stop doing this. You can't keep ditching school to come here, and I can't keep leaving work to come get you. Your mother's got enough to worry about. I know it's hard–god, I can't imagine how hard it is for you–but you've got to get your act back together."

I tried not to listen to him. I tried to hypnotize myself by staring at the fields, watching the corn go by. It wasn't working.

"I'm not saying you should forget about him, I know it's impossible. But he's gone, there's nothing we can do about it. We can't just stop living, he wouldn't want that."

I stiffened at that. I tried to stop myself, I tried to regain my composure, but I couldn't. I collapsed, head between my knees, bawling into my hands. He put his hand on my shoulder, trying to comfort me. I shoved him away.

We rode the rest of the way home in silence.


I lay my head down on the pillow, staring at the empty pill bottle in front of me. My eyes hurt; they'd swollen after the hours I'd spent crying. It didn't matter any more. I rolled to my other side, waiting for the pills to take effect. My alarm clock caught my eye, I smiled sadly when I realized it was still set for seven, even though I wouldn't be waking up. My note sat beside it–I wonder if I should have made it longer? Did I make it too long? Was mom going to cry when she read it? Of course she was. Was he?

My vision was starting to get foggy, and I was finding it harder to keep my eyes open. I fell asleep with the first genuine smile I'd had for a long time.


I awoke with a sharp pain in my stomach He was standing over me, forcing me to drink something. He grabbed me by my armpits and drug me into the bathroom. He held me over the toilet, and I realized what he'd force-fed me. I threw up a moment later, filling the toilet with vomit. It stung my throat and came out through my nostrils. I was crying again.

I finished after a few minutes. My mouth tasted awful and my head hurt. I felt him lay me down. He wiped my face with a cold rag, and our eyes met. He was crying. I'd never seen him cry before, that was the last thing I thought before I passed out.


My eyes opened slowly. I tried to look around, but it hurt to lift my head. Feeling someone squeeze my hand, I looked over to see him. He was looking at me sadly, although he wasn't crying anymore. I realized I was in his car again. My seat was tilted all the way back. I never realized how comfortable the leather was until then, although it did little to ease the weariness and drug induced weakness in my body. I looked away and tried go back to sleep. Before I could, the car came to a stop, and he got out.

A moment later, my door opened. He lifted me out, I never realized how strong he was before. Wrapping my arm around his shoulder out of instinct, he set my feet down and helped me walk. It took me a while to realize where we were going, but once I did, I tried to fight him. I took my arm back, I tried to push away from him. I screamed, I kicked, I cried, I acted like a toddler. The entire time, he didn't say a word, he just kept after me like Christ's gaze. I don't know how long I fought back, but eventually I relented, allowing him to drag me. I was still crying when he set me down on the grass.

"Kyle, I want you to look at it."

I turned my face away. I wanted to get away. I hated him! I hated him for not letting me die!

"Kyle, look at your brother! I want you to tell him what you tried to do tonight!"

I sobbed, curling into a fetal position. I was cold and the dew from the grass was dampening my clothes. A moment later I felt his strong hands force me to look. I tried to close my eyes. I tried to fight him again. It didn't work. I saw it.

The gravestone, brand new; the dates, only eight years apart; the name, my brother's. I sobbed again, collapsing into his arms.

"Kyle, it wasn't your fault. You didn't want it to happen, and you can't keep blaming yourself. Killing yourself won't bring him back any more than me spending every night in the bottom of a bottle."

He hugged me closer, and I sobbed louder.

"I don't want to loose another son, neither does your mother. When the policeman showed up at our door that night, a part of me died. I wanted to cry, hell, I wanted to curl into a ball and die. But life isn't like that. I tried to be strong, I held your mother in my arms as we prayed for you in the hospital, and I held you both through the funeral. You have no idea how hard it was, and how hard I had to fight not to cry . . . but, when I saw you laying there, with that bottle next to you."

I felt a cold, wet drop hit the back of my neck. I turned and saw the moon glint off his tears.

"Please, I don't care what the hell you do with your life, I don't. Just, please, never do that again. I, I couldn't live with myself. Promise me that, whatever you do, you won't ever do that again. I'll give up drinking if you do, just promise me that. For me, for your mother, and for your brother. We all want you to live, Kyle."

I closed my eyes and embraced him tightly, and he hugged me tighter.

"I'm, I'm sorry . . ." I croaked softly. He didn't respond, just tightened his grip.

I don't know how long we lay there like that. We were crying on each other's shoulders, waiting silently for the sun to come up.