At the Risk of Forgetting(6)

By: A.M. Wilson


I rolled my eyes and moved back into the hall. The conversation took a turn there’d be no coming back from without a fight. “You don’t much like me anyway, so I don’t see the problem.”

“What’d you say?”

“I said I’m going to get changed!” Before I reached my room, however, I was stopped once more.

“What’re you two yelling about?”

I smiled genuinely at my brother. “Hey, Witchy Ritchie. Nothing. Mom’s just being her usual, happy self.”

He sighed and leaned against the door to the linen closet. “Give her a break, Cam.”

“Yeah, I know. Save the lecture.”

“Really, though, what was that about? Mom thinks you’re on drugs?”

I pushed into my bedroom, tired of standing around in wet clothes. My brother didn’t take the hint I wanted to be alone and followed me in.

“Who cares what she thinks? I’m not. I came home happy. Since she can’t stand to see that, the accusations started.”

Now Ritchie’s eyes narrowed as he studied me. “Why did you come home so happy?”

My mouth snapped shut, and I spun away from him. I busied myself by gathering clean, dry clothes to put on from my dresser. “No reason. Can’t I just be happy?”

“Yeah, you can. Happiness looks good on you.”

The sad note of his tone had me turning around again. I clutched my pile of clothes to my chest. I forgot my clothes were wet, and therefore got my clean clothes wet, as I tilted my head to the left and took in my older brother. “Speaking of, are you okay? You don’t look so good.”

“I’m fine. Just tired.” He waved me off with a swish of his hand.

Tired wasn’t the half of it. He had deep purple rings around his eyes, but we usually did, as our mom spent half the night awake and yelling through her nightmares of the accident that stole our dad and her ability to walk at the same time. But the paleness of his skin was new. He looked ill and it concerned me.

“Why don’t you go take a nap? I’m here now. I’ll just get changed and make mom some lunch.”

Ritchie walked towards me, wrapped his arm around my shoulders, and kissed the side of my head. “Thanks. I think I’ll do that.”

Then he left.

After I got changed, I did what I said I’d do. I also called our pediatrician and made an appointment for him for the next day. He didn’t look good, and I knew he wouldn’t do it himself. He’d have done the same for me.

And after that, I looked after mom.





2.


“Hey, Witchy Ritchie.”

I lowered myself onto the bright green grass and ran my fingers through the long blades. The morning dew clung to my jeans, making my backside instantly wet, but I didn’t care. Nothing else existed when I came to visit my brother.

“It’s getting a little cold out here today. I miss summer already.” I tugged my sweater tighter around my chest and crossed my arms, staring off into the distant trees. “You’ll never guess who I saw the other day.”

As usual, he didn’t answer. I kept talking, anyway. “I never thought I’d see him again, you know? What is he even doing here? I ran into him at the damn coffee shop of all places. For a moment, I thought he knew everything. I thought he’d figured it all out. I mean, you knew Law. He didn’t miss a thing.”

“Most things,” I amended.

A shiver ran through me. I brought my eyes back to the solid marble stone in the ground.

“What am I supposed to do?”

My chest ached and burned with the silence. I needed my brother more than ever. More than I needed him when I left home, or when my daughter was born. Because in this moment, I was faced with the heartbreaking reality that I hurt Law, and the confirmation that he still felt that after all these years.

I didn’t know he’d still care.

He could have easily forgotten me and moved on. It wouldn’t surprise me if he had a family. A wife who doted on him and kids who looked up to him; with his eyes and unruly hair, who’d run up to him and scream Daddy when he came home after a long day of work.

That could totally be the case.

Now that I thought about it, if that weren’t the case, I’d be shocked.

Law was always handsome. And popular. Before I’d left, he was a sophomore on the varsity football team, and he had been a starting player since freshman year. His coaches and teachers adored him, the student body worshiped him, and the cheerleaders loved him. Especially Stephanie.

I hadn’t thought her name since before Evelyn was born and I made a promise to myself to put the past behind me. During that time, I knew I needed to grow up. Motherhood was fast approaching, and if I wanted any chance at making a good life for my daughter and me, I needed to forget all I’d lost. After all, the choice to have Evelyn was mine alone, and I didn’t do anything half-assed. The only thing I’d ever left unfinished was my relationship, or lack thereof, with Law.