Michael was my constant. That one fixed point I swore by to keep me from completely straying. He carried himself in such a way that proved how dependable and sure he truly was. His hair was always neatly combed, he never missed shaving and even his nails were always kept trimmed and clean. What I remember most about him though was how he always managed to shine his shoes. The little details. I thought if he's careful with the little things that usually went unnoticed then he'd have no problem taking care of the big things. I depended on him so much that I expected he would always be around.
"I'm leaving." He said one day, his back turned against me, while cooking my favorite breakfast – Eggs Benedict and hash browns. "It's time."
I stood up from the breakfast counter, walked towards him and wrapped my arms around his waist. I loved how he's almost a foot taller than me because every time I rest my head against his back I feel so small but safe at the same time. It's almost like taking shelter under a huge tree.
"Don't you think it's too early for jokes? We haven't even had breakfast yet." I gave out a deep sigh. "I won't let you leave you know. I'll cling to you like this." I added jokingly as I wrapped my arms around him even tighter. We remained still for a while. At that moment, in the silence, I felt sudden fear set in. "Stay, okay?" He turned the stove off then turned around and held me in an embrace.
"What do I do with you?" I smiled sure that I won the case then looked up to him. He was smiling back at me. "We should just get married." He added before drawing my hair back with his hands and tying it in a messy bun.
"If Matt hears you he'd think you were serious." I laughed and then took my seat back at the breakfast counter. Right on cue, Matt came in from his morning run.
"You were right about this place Mike. Now I see why you moved here." He was still out of breath when he came to me and gave me a kiss on the cheek before pouring himself a glass of water from the fridge. "It's got a nice neighborhood and there's even a park nearby."
"I was actually thinking of selling this place." The smile on Michael's face was gone then and was suddenly replaced by a somber expression.
"Really? Why so?" Matt didn't seem to notice.
"I just thought it's the right time to go on that trip I told you about." Aren't we done talking about this? I wanted to tell him right there and then.
"Oh… volunteer work abroad. You have been talking a lot about it lately. I didn't know you were that excited about it." Michael was smiling but I know him too well to believe he was actually "excited".
"Well you guys are dating and you know me, I don't really make a great third wheel." Matt was laughing but Michael was looking at me with a serious expression that I must have mirrored because Matt immediately called our attention saying we were ruining the mood.
"I should just buy this from you since I know you will give me a good discount right? After all, I'm your younger brother. Plus, I don't really plan on dating Robin that long."
"You don't?" I asked quite surprised by the statement.
"That's right. I don't plan on dating you that long since I want to marry you as soon as I convince you to say 'yes'." He was grinning like a child showing no trace of embarrassment whatsoever. I, on the other hand, was already blushing at the idea.
Matt had quite the confidence that Michael was often lacking. However, I don't think it was because he didn't really have it but rather he just chooses to act differently. Matt was the risk-taker, seemingly willing to make rushed decisions and see how things play out in the end. Michael was different. He thought things through very carefully and making decisions only when he knew with absolute certainty that he'd be able to take responsibility for them in the end.
"I'll sell it to you then right after I finalize my plans."
It was during that moment, I realized later on, that Michael ultimately made the decision to leave. He must have thought it was easier to take responsibility for his heart than it was to take responsibility for hurting his brother's heart. I too made a decision not long after that – I'd only give my heart to the person who has decided to take it and not the person who has no idea that he already has it.