Home > Wish You Were Mine(2)

Wish You Were Mine(2)
Author: Tara Sivec

A few minutes of not hearing the cries of babies or the pleas of mothers begging me to save their children.

A few minutes of not seeing Aiden’s face in my head, smirking at me and calling me an asshole.

A few minutes of not thinking about her.

One-hundred-and-eighty seconds when I can close my eyes and feel nothing.

With my ass on the floor and my legs sprawled out in front of me, I close my eyes and let the quiet oblivion take over, but it’s gone too soon. It never lasts long enough. Not anymore. Not after that letter he wrote.

That fucking letter.

I open my eyes and my body breaks out into a cold sweat when I see it crumbled up and tossed a few feet away from me. The letter I’ve been rereading for the last three months, ever since it showed up in my mailbox in Cambodia, exactly two weeks after Aiden died.

My eyes stay glued to the ball of paper, Aiden’s shaky and uneven handwriting peeking out of the crushed page. I bring the vodka back up to my lips and try to drink away the pain and misery swirling around inside of me. It doesn’t even burn anymore when it goes down, and I can almost fool myself into believing the water bottle I poured it in really contains just water. I don’t know why I bother trying to hide it at this point. My brother, Jason, has seen all the empty vodka bottles I’ve hidden under my bed and out in the garage behind shelves and boxes. In the trunk of my car yesterday, he found an entire box of empty liter bottles, which I’d meant to take out to the garbage dump and get rid of, but never got around to it. Probably because I was too drunk to drive there.

I laugh when I think about the intervention he had with me yesterday morning. He went in my trunk to borrow my jack for a flat tire he needed to change before he left for work, and saw that damn box of bottles. He made me promise to stop drinking. He made me promise to get help. Of course I agreed. He’s my baby brother. I live here with him in our grandparents’ old house until I can get back on my feet. A house my grandmother left to me when she moved away, the place Jason was forced to stay in and take care of while I was always gone. And he’s still here, taking care of the house and taking care of me instead of moving out and getting his own life. He puts up with my sorry ass day in and day out, and he deserves so much more than having a drunk for a brother who can’t get his shit together.

And I kept my promise. For almost twenty-four hours, I didn’t touch the one last bottle of Tito’s I had stashed on the top shelf of my closet. I gritted my teeth through the pain of withdrawal, and I threw up every ounce of water I tried to get in my system, but I did it. I pushed through it for Jason. I sucked it up for my little brother, who’d survived the same shitty childhood I had, but never got to escape like I did. I dealt with the shakes and the headaches and the puking and the fever so I wouldn’t have to see that same tired, disappointed look in his eyes when he got home from another day of work while I just sat my useless ass on his couch.

“You weren’t supposed to die!” I scream at the letter, still lying a few feet away, taunting me to crawl over to it and read the words inside again. “Why in the hell didn’t you tell me sooner?!”

The water bottle of vodka crinkles in my hand when I squeeze my fingers around it and angrily bring it up to my mouth, chugging it until it’s almost gone.

Aiden’s voice is buzzing in my ear like an annoying housefly you can’t swat away. It just keeps coming back and coming back, pushing me over the edge until I want to cover my ears and make it stop. The alcohol isn’t working. His voice just won’t go away.

You’re an asshole.

I hope you feel guilty.

Come home.

Come home.

Come home.

I am an asshole. I do feel guilty. And I’m home. I got on the next flight out of Cambodia as soon as that damn letter arrived, not even bothering to call home, just wanting to get back here before it was too late. I acted without thinking and of course I was too late. Two weeks too late to say good-bye, too late for the funeral, too late to make amends, too late to do anything but pick up a bottle and try to forget all the mistakes I’d made. It’s been exactly three months and two weeks to the day my best friend died in his sleep when his body just couldn’t fight anymore. Three months and two weeks to the day that he stopping existing.

I’ve spent every waking moment since I got home trying to forget about the pain Aiden’s death caused, and then a few hours ago a box of photos fell from the top shelf of my closet when I was looking for something. It came crashing to the floor, spilling memories of Aiden all around my feet. Aiden laughing at me during a game of basketball when we were ten, Aiden smiling at the camera with his arm wrapped around one of his many dates when we were in high school, Aiden smirking as he holds up his college diploma. Every memory of him seeped into my brain and squeezed the life out of my heart until that fucking letter I’d shoved into the back of my dresser drawer started taunting me to read it again. I could almost feel Aiden standing next to me, telling me I deserve to be miserable for the shit I’ve pulled. I was trying to do better and he just shows up in my brain, provoking me and pushing me to fuck it all up, make me forget about the promise I made to my brother until nothing else mattered but taking a drink so I could make it all go away. I came home, just like Aiden wanted, and all I want to do is leave.

“Do you really want me to take care of our girl now, Aiden?!” I shout toward the ceiling. “I bet she’d be really happy to see me show up at the camp like this.”

I laugh at my words, wondering if it’s the booze or my fucked-up head that’s made me start talking to myself like a crazy person.

“You weren’t supposed to die. You were always supposed to be here,” I mutter, my throat clogging with tears when I look over at his letter again.

I took everything for granted, and I have no one to blame but myself. I walked away from my two best friends and never looked back because I was a coward. I always thought in the back of my mind that one day I’d be able to get over my shit, get over how I felt about Cameron, come back home and they’d both be waiting for me, ready to forgive me for being an idiot. But now that’s never going to happen.

Aiden is never going to be there with a smirk on his face and a sarcastic comment at the ready. Cameron is never going to forgive me. For not being there while Aiden was sick, for not doing everything I could to try and save him, and for not going to her right when I got home.

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