a short story i had to write for school work and really enjoyed doing.
|A broken connection
The closeness you feel towards your siblings is only truly realized when it is challenged. When the person you are inseparable from starts separating themselves from you. To ease the pain of the parting that they can feel coming, but that you have not foreseen.
James is my brother. No, James is my other half. Ever since the days when our greatest excitement was finding a new place to hide during a game of hide-and-seek we have been inseparable. I could see what he was thinking in his eyes, in his expressions; there was nothing unfamiliar about him, nothing that could shock me. His glistening blue eyes always filled me with a sense of purpose, reassurance, as if when I looked into their depths nothing could ever harm me or cause me pain. The hair that we both possessed falling to his shoulders in russet waves and a mouth that could melt any heart with the words that poured from it. In every significant aspect of my life that I can recall James has been by my side: protecting, supporting and caring for me like no one but he ever could.
That winter it all changed. I was drifting into an uneasy sleep when I heard James shout. Without thought or provocation, I bolted into his room. He was on the floor, his head between his hands, and the expression that tarnished his face tortured me. He was in agony, holding his head as if he was trying to stop it falling apart. In a second I was by his side trying to comfort him, imploring him to tell me what was wrong.
“James, Louise, what’s going on?” My parents had joined the scene. It was not an unusual situation for James and me to be in each others rooms at night, but this was a scenario that shocked us all. My parents quickly dialled 999 and, with great effort not to cause him any more discomfort than was absolutely necessary, managed to get him down the stairs ready for the ambulance.
After what seemed like decades, but which in reality was only a few hours, by beloved brother walked out of hospital with me at his side and my parents lingering behind us speaking in hushed monotones. If I had been in my usual state of mind I would have been intensely curious as to the nature of my parents’ discussion, however in that instance my only concern was James. I did not wish to interrogate him tonight as to what the problem had been, and he seemed equally unenthusiastic to discuss it, so I let our conversation drift onto more mundane and less interesting topics. Again something I would not usually be willing to do.
Weeks passed, and although I continued in silence my curiosity grew uncontrollably. I tried to guess but each failed attempt was more unlikely than the last and my theories were quickly crushed by my parents before I could voice them to my brother. In truth, although my thoughts remained incarcerated in my mind, my anxiety continued to grow as the time rushed past. When my parents withdrew my brother from the school we both attended I decided it was time to find out exactly what was being kept from me. Despite my parents’ constant warnings not to remind my brother of the events of last winter I climbed the narrow stairs, my footsteps muffled by the carpet. The illogical fear which trespassed into my mind filled me with apprehension. I stood motionless beside the door frame, trying to summon the courage to enter. ‘I want to know, I want to know, I want to know.’ The words reverberated in my head, pushing all else to the back of my mind, including my growing fear. I knocked. The smooth, hushed voice of my brother formed a question in response to my action:
“How long have you been out there Lou? I thought you’d never make it through the door!” The eerie connection that had always bonded me to him worked both ways; he knew why I was here. I struggled with myself; should I chat with him or hurl myself straight into a confrontation?
“James, you know why I’m here. I didn’t believe there was anything so horrific that it could come between us, separate us, which is why I don’t want to believe what my instincts are telling me. For the first time in my life when I think of you the only thing that comes into my mind is fear. I can’t help thinking that you’re not going to make it out of this one, that this is it. Just tell me I’m wrong, tell me anything … just don’t keep me in the dark like this.” I let my voice fade into insignificance; the tenderness that crossed his face was heartbreaking.
“Lou don’t do this, please.” He spoke in a voice so quiet that anyone who wasn’t listening as intently as I was might have missed it.
“No James, I want to –!” He cut me off.
“Lou, some things are better left unsaid, this is something that I won’t let hurt you. I love you too much to do that.
“James please!” I wasn’t surprised to feel the tears cascading over my cheeks. For the first time in the 16 years I had shared with him he had never kept anything from me. I felt something wrench open inside me; a hole that I had never known existed now threatening to engulf me with the anguish that poured from it. We fell at the same time, me clutching my chest and he clutching his head. The scream of pain that escaped from James was immediately followed by my moan of anxiety for him, as my mind involuntarily returned to last winter.
For the second time that year we rushed to the hospital. Even though it was the same as before I couldn’t imagine two more different experiences. Although none of us voiced our understanding of the change that had occurred since the last journey we all recognized it: the lack of hope. We all knew this was it, the unstoppable force that threatened to tear my ideal family apart, to separate the inseparable: my brother and me. Death.
For the second time that year I walked out of the hospital doors, my parents behind me but no comforting silhouette walking beside me, nor would it ever again. It was evident that the hole which had opened earlier was now permanent, the connection gone and a dull silence filled its space. A single tear rolled down my stone cheeks. Two words filled my mind: brain tumour.