This week’s story prompt is ‘A Story About Three Siblings.’ I hope you like it!
The story is below the cut.
A lot of people say that being the middle child sucks, and honestly I am inclined to agree with them. It never used to be this bad and I have fond memories of playing with my big brother, Tony, and my little sister, Katie, when we were young. Now it’s as if we go about out days in a haze and no one in the family even talks to one another. It doesn’t help that Mom and Dad got a divorce a few years ago. They were fighting a lot about plates and other things. Dad seemed to think that Mom was setting out too many plates and wasting food. I would exchange looks with Katie and Tony and I always wanted to ask what Dad was talking about, but I never worked up the courage. Then they got a divorce and he was gone.
I often seem to spend a lot of time by myself. After an accident a few years ago, I started homeschooling while Tony and Katie still go to regular school. I take classes online but it means I don’t have a lot of social contact. To be honest, I don’t even really leave the house because I get really terrible headaches when I go out. I think it’s a side effect of the accident but my mom won’t take me to the doctor to see. I don’t think she likes doctors very much. But it might also have something to do with money. Dad doesn’t really send Mom much money to help her out with us.
Sometimes at night, I can hear Mom crying through the walls. Her room is right next to mine and I can hear just about everything she does. Every morning I wake up to the sound of her getting dressed and putting on her make up. Sometimes she hums as she gets ready, but I think that the reality of the day hangs heavy on her by the end and most nights she cries herself to sleep. I’ve gone in a few times to see what’s wrong and offer her some comfort and a hug but she always ignores me. I think she doesn’t want me to see her so upset. I understand that. I think if I were a parent, I wouldn’t want my children to see me upset.
It’s the worst when Tony and Katie invite friends over after school or on the weekends. I don’t have very many friends of my own because of homeschooling and it was hard to keep in touch with people I knew before. So, you can’t really blame me for wanting to be friends with their friends as well. However, they never even really bothered to introduce me. They would walk past me with their friends and not even look in my direction. Once upon a time they used to let me come hang out with them and we would play games and chat and they didn’t seem to care that I would tag along. But now they seem to pretend that I don’t exist. But I’m here. I exist. I have feelings.
Every day I would wake up and resolve to try and make more of an effort to be noticed and to be brought into the conversation but it was getting harder and harder. My mom didn’t even answer my questions. She would talk to me but it never made sense. She would say things like “Oh, Chris,” as if she was deeply saddened by me and I honestly had no idea what I had done to disappoint her so much. I missed the days when she used to take me into her arms and hold me close. I must have been too old for that now.
Things came to a head when I walked up to her one Monday morning and wrapped my arms around her shoulders. But she didn’t lean into the hug like she used to. She just shivered and got up, pulling away from me. I have to admit that my temper got the better of me. I yelled and shoved all of her papers off of the table. A look of fear crossed over her face and she swiftly left the room. I followed her. I was still mad and I kept pushing things off of tables and shelves as I passed them. Mom was crying now. She was running from me. I had never caused this kind of reaction in my mother before. But now that the tap had been opened, I couldn’t stop the flood. I couldn’t stop my anger. The lights were flickering, which was off because I was pretty sure that it wasn’t storming outside.
Mom ended up in the living room. The living room was fairly sparsely furnished. Dad had taken his big leather Lay-z-Boy recliners and the big television with him in the split, so all we were left with was a big couch facing a fireplace we never used. The fireplace had one of those mantles where Mom liked to display pictures. Tony and Katie’s most recent school pictures were featured prominently along with the last school photo I had taken before my accident. My eyes latched onto the photo of me and I had a sudden thought. No one had tried to take a photo of me in years.
“Why won’t you talk to me, Mom?” I cried. “You set out a plate for me and food but you don’t talk to me. And you don’t take photos of me. I’m here, Mom! I’m here!”
Mom wrapped her arms around herself and seemed to try and make herself as small as possible. My insides felt like chaos. I was angry and I was sad and I was confused. She hadn’t said a word but I felt like she was lying to me. My mouth felt sour and for the first time in a long time my mother looked at me. There were tears rolling down her cheeks.
“Oh, Chris,” she said. “I’m so, so sorry.”
“What? Why are you apologizing? What did you do?”
“I miss you so much, Chrissy,” she murmured, sinking down into a crouch against the wall.
“I’M RIGHT HERE!”
The lights flickered. The front door opened.
“Mom?” called Tony from the entrance hall. His footsteps echoed closer. “Mom? What’s wrong?”
I watched her turn her face towards the door and I watched Tony appear at the door. When he took in Mom crouched on the floor across the room, he darted over to her.
“Mom! Are you all right?” he asked, reaching for her arm.
“Tony,” she whispered. “Chris is here.”
“What?” Tony’s head swiveled around, his eyes grazing right past me. “Mom… Chris is…”
“I know, I know but Chris is here. I’ve felt it. I know it.”
“I’M ALWAYS HERE!” I cried. “I’VE NEVER LEFT. WHAT ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT? Please…”
Every fibre of my being shook. The lights flickered again and then the bulb in the ceiling burst, shattering shards of glass onto the floor in between Mom, Tony and I. Tony’s gaze shot up to the ceiling and then down to the glass on the floor.
“Mom… What do we do?”
“We have to stop pretending…”
“What do you mean?” I asked. “Mom? Tony?”
“It’s just you, Mom,” said Tony, taking a step back. “Chris is dead. Chris isn’t here. Katie and I don’t pretend. Dad could never pretend. It’s why he left. It’s why I’m going to leave. Chris died in that car accident and you are the only one who thinks that Chris is just going to come waltzing back in.”
“Mom?” I whispered. My voice felt faint and hard to reach as if I had somehow managed to shout it away.
“I’m so sorry, Chris,” she whispered again.