Home > Wish You Were Mine(3)

Wish You Were Mine(3)
Author: Tara Sivec

I should have gone to her. We should have been able to mourn Aiden together, but I couldn’t deal with my own pain, let alone hers. I still can’t deal with my own pain.

No one understands what it’s like to come back home after you’ve been on the other side of the world, experiencing horrors no one back here sees or even realizes is happening. People here live in their happy little worlds, going about their happy little lives, and they forget there are men, women, and children without basic necessities, like clean water, so they, too, can have those happy lives.

Jason doesn’t understand, even though he tries to.

No one understands what it’s like to be back here. What it’s like to have nothing to do with your free time but think and feel guilty about the people you couldn’t save in another country, or the person you should have saved right here at home. To feel like you’re constantly living in a nightmare where every thought and every memory is a film reel of all the ways you fucked up.

I’m so tired of feeling this pain. I just want relief. I just want to feel nothing at all. My eyelids grow heavy and my vision starts to blur as darkness and the sweet bliss of numbness covers my body like a warm blanket.

“Goddammit, Everett! Son of a bitch…”

I hear my brother’s voice, and even though it sounds muffled and far away in my drunken brain, I can still hear the anger in it. I don’t even realize I’ve slumped over onto my side until I feel Jason’s arms come under me and slide me back upright against the wall.

“Open your eyes. Open your fucking eyes!” Jason shouts close to my face.

The darkness surrounding me disappears when I blink my eyes open as his palm smacks against my cheek.

Sadness, worry, anguish, and fear.

That’s what I see written all over my brother’s face as he looks at me and shakes his head. I want to apologize to him that he found me like this, but what’s the point? He’s found me in similar situations many times since I got home, and my apologies aren’t worth shit at this point.

I want to tell him that I don’t want this crutch of alcohol. I don’t want to need it, feeling like it’s the only way I can survive the pain. The pain in my gut, the pain in my head, and the pain in my heart. Without drinking, it all comes back until I want to claw at my skin and scream until my throat is hoarse. I open my mouth, but the words won’t come.

He sits down next to me and kicks his legs out in front of him, mirroring my own.

“What was it this time? Flashback? Bad dream?” Jason asks quietly, listing off all the excuses I’ve given him over the last few months when he’s smelled the alcohol on my breath or found me passed out on the couch.

I lean forward to grab the letter from Aiden, but the room spins and I have to quickly lean back against the wall before I puke. Instead, I lift my arm and point to it.

He looks away from me to the crumpled-up ball of paper, letting out a big sigh before reaching over to grab it. I watch silently as he uncrinkles it and smooths it out against his thigh. I stare at his face, blinking a few times to keep it in focus, as he reads through the letter.

“Jesus Christ,” he finally whispers. “Where did this come from?”

I clear my throat and look away from him to stare at the opposite wall in our grandparents’ living room before answering him.

“It came when I was in Cambodia. Two weeks after he died.”

Jason doesn’t say anything for a few minutes, and I take the time to look around the room. I always loved this house growing up. An old farmhouse on the outskirts of Charleston, it was filled with happy memories and good times, the complete opposite of the home we shared with our mother in New Jersey. I looked forward to spending every summer here with our grandmother. She baked us cookies, she fed us home-cooked meals, and she paid attention to us. She loved us and she cared for us and she did everything she could to make us happy.

This house that was once full of dreams now feels like hell. I can’t stand these four walls that surround me, caging me in, not letting me get away from the memories and the pain.

“I’m sorry, Everett. This letter is…shit. I don’t even know what to say about this thing. Why didn’t you tell me? Is this why you’ve been drinking yourself into a coma since you got home?” Jason asks.

“It is what it is,” I shrug, ignoring the drinking comment. “He’s right. I’m an asshole, but there’s nothing I can do about that now.”

My brother scoffs, pushing himself up from the floor to stand over me. It hurts my head to look up at him. The overhead light is shining in my eyes and stabbing into my skull, and I curse when I have to shield my eyes to see his face.

“I know I’ll never understand everything going on in that head of yours. I know I’ll never be able to sympathize with all the shit you saw over there. And I know the sadness I feel about Aiden being gone is nothing compared to what you feel,” Jason tells me. “But enough is enough. You were doing something you loved over there and you didn’t know he was sick. Even if you had, you couldn’t have done anything about it. He had the best medical team money could buy, flown in from all over the world. What he had, even your fancy medical skills couldn’t have fixed. You’re still alive and you need to start fucking acting like it. I’m sorry that letter hurt you, but I’m not sorry Aiden wrote it. He’s right. You need to get your head out of your ass.”

I can feel anger start to replace my buzz, and I clench my hands into fists in my lap. I don’t want to hear this bullshit coming out of his mouth. I know I deserve it, but I don’t want to hear it.

“What the fuck happened to the promise you made me yesterday?” he asks, snatching the water bottle out of my hand and hurling it across the room.

It smacks against our grandmother’s oak curio cabinet filled with her good china and drops to the floor, the last few sips of vodka leaking out onto the hardwood floor.

“It hurts,” I whisper, looking down at my balled fists, unable to look him in the eyes anymore.

“Of course it hurts, you dumbass! It’s called alcohol withdrawal for a reason. It’s not supposed to feel good, but I guess you don’t even want to try,” he fires back.

Jason squats down next to me and grabs my chin, forcing me to look at him.

“I’m sorry Aiden’s gone. I’m sorry you’re hurting and you feel guilty for not being able to save him. But screw you for not even trying. I was too young to remember losing Dad, but watching Mom fade away and drink herself to death was bad enough. You can go fuck yourself if you think you’re going to leave me behind, too. If you won’t do it for me, do it for Cameron. She lost Aiden, too, you know. What do you think will happen if she loses you as well?”

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