Belief

Man is harder than rock and more fragile than an egg. (Yugoslav Proverb)

Isme thinks she will always have her brother, she can't imagine him not being there. Then suddenly, he isn't and yet he is. The horror comes not from his going, but the manner of his going. The hit and run wasn't a hit of run, and she need's Rob's help to prove this, even if he is dead.

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4. All the world will be in love with night

 

  

When he shall die,
Take him and cut him out in little stars,
And he will make the face of heaven so fine
That all the world will be in love with night
And pay no worship to the garish sun.”
― William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet

 

 

Guilt? No. Looking around he takes my arm and we walk quickly into the shadow of the trees bordering the school playing field. In the shadows he starts pacing and talking. “I feel responsible,” I tense, I don’t want him to be involved. He’s a nice guy. My parents have so much trust in him. It would break them utterly. He sees my face. “No! I’m responsible in that it was my party. I dragged him there. He wouldn’t have come if it wasn’t for me.”                          

“What, surely he would have gone, ha, he has loads of friends!”

There’s a long silence with only the wind whispering through the trees.                          

Rob is standing lounging against a tree, hands in pockets. He nods. I swallow. I don’t want to know what Oscar has to say. Another nod from Rob.                                                        

“Rob wasn’t popular. People resented him.”                                                                         

  I’m hollow and feel like someone’s punched me in the midriff.                                     

 "He was popular! He was confident and always was with people!”       

“No, that was me. I’m the popular one…”       

 “Stop trying to take his place! Stop lying to me!”                                                           

I’m shaking him madly, and his lips are moving but he’s not saying anything. Or I can’t hear.

 “Isme! Listen to me! People didn’t like him.

“He wasn’t unpopular! You’re lying about people not liking him.”                                       

  He doesn’t reply for a minute, then he’s seizing my arms and pinning them to my side. He bends down, so his face is close to mine.                                                              

“Someone hit him on their way home. You wanted me to explain and I have. People were at the party who didn’t like him but they didn’t kill him. It wasn’t deliberate Isme. You need to accept it was an accident. No one I know would so something so awful.”                      

  “Then you need glasses to help you see what humans are like.” I spat, hating him.    

We break apart and head back in silence. My friends have gone, in fact so has everyone else. 

As we start to split, heading towards our separate classes, he halts me. He gnaws his lip.                     

  “He was being beaten up by two guys, about a girl, Bryony. I don’t know…” he runs his hand through his hair, stares at me for a minute or two and then hurries off.                           

  Bingo.                                                                         

 

When I get home, I hack into Rob’s Facebook. It’s pretty easy. He uses the same password for everything. The group event isn’t hard to find and I scan the names down the screen. Loads of names I don’t know but there’s one person who attended that I do know. I ransack his room, trying to push past the horrible emptiness, the unmade bed. Rob appears lying on it, reading a comic.                           

“I’ve had an idea Rob, one that will support itself in court.” He smiles and keeps reading. That could mean anything.                                                                                                         

“You are so annoying!” I hiss, finding his phone. Passcode. The one password I have never figured out.                                                                     

“1367,” he dictates. “My Fifa high score.”                                                                           

Rolling my eyes, I scroll through his contacts to B. Bryony. I pull a face at him and look at the number.  I copy the number into my mobile. A phone call from a dead guy’s number wouldn’t help.   “Hello?”          

“Hey Bryony, it’s Isme Clapham, Rob’s sister. I wanted to ask you something.”                      

As I listen to the story, I know I have enough evidence for the police. Finally, I have discovered the motive like a true Sherlock Holmes.              

  “Rob left halfway through the party to get a taxi,” Bryony sobs down the phone. “They slipped away a short time later. I knew they were up to something, I should have stopped them but they were drunk! When they drink, they become scary people."

“Thanks Bryony. You’ve helped a lot,” I say and put the phone down.                          

Then I call the police.                                                                                                       

 

I’m called in the next day to give evidence. The uniformed man opposite me is stern, balding and not the person I’d ever want to be a friend of. He’s efficient and gets the job done. Occasionally I falter, not sure if I’m sounding believable, but then I remember this is for Rob and if I do this, he will be free. His saviour I will be. That incentive drives me forward until forty minutes later I leave the interview. There’s nothing to do now but wait.                                                                                  

 Mum and dad return, drawn, thin but coping now, acceptance slowly sinking in. I don’t think they’ll ever let go though. I confess my involvement with the police and they are livid. It’s not because I’ve done a bad thing. It’s because they knew all along but didn’t want to accept that is was deliberate, the wound was raw enough. Deep down, I know they’ll thank me later. Rob assures me it’s going to be okay and I hug his words to me like I’m hugging a bar of gold to my chest.

 

The phone rings whilst I’m typing up my coursework. Racing across the landing, I answer it, slightly breathless.                                                                         

“We would like you and your family to come to court on this date to try Edward Elton and Nate Levy for murder.”

 

The next few weeks are hell. They’re not what I expected.  My teenage mind was picturing a brief trial, mutual consent, an easily won battle. The real world doesn’t operate like that. Court has a far more serious label on it than I thought.

 

We win but it’s a personal victory. The case was thus; Ed and Nate attended Oscar’s party, rocking in halfway through absolutely smashed. At that point, Rob and Bryony were hanging out, getting pretty close. Nate saw this and immediately turned violent, claiming Bryony was his girlfriend. Of course, this was nonsense and Rob tried to defend himself in as benign a way as possible. The situation escalated until Rob had enough and decided to turn home. As he was walking the short way to the taxi rank, Nate and Ed planned to give him a fright. They had both arrived in a car of their mate’s and once again commandeered the vehicle. They hadn’t meant to kill him, but the lethal combination of drink and driving turned their idea into a nightmare.

 

It’s been two weeks since the trial started, it only finished two days ago. Rob is about to leave. I’m guessing to wherever the souls of people go to be at peace. Rob definitely belongs in heaven. We stand together in the park, looking at the swings and slides that we used to have so much fun on. There’s the roundabout on which I always sat and he always pushed because I was too much of a weakling.                                                                                            

“Thank you sis, I knew I chose the right person.” The pride in his voice is so tender, it nudges a cord.                              

“I’m glad we got it sorted.”

 He raises his hand and I raise mine until they’re touching. Shimmering wisps of smoke flow from his hand onto mine, where it rolls before sinking under my skin. “I’m always with you." Slowly, he starts to fade. I go to shout to keep him here but I have to let him go. He’s waited long enough. I blink and by the time I finish, he’s gone.                                                    

“Bye bye big bro.”

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