Look at the way he's stacking up the wood, like he's some type of macho man. Obviously trying to impress me. He's completely clueless that he's overrated in my mind. And his jeans are way too tight. You know, he's not as hot as he thinks he is with sweat dripping down his forehead. And his neck. And his chest. And- Stop it.

... News flash, Owen. We're history.


10. Ten

Norma insists that I sit in the passenger seat, claiming that she wants to sit in the back seat. I really really do not want to sit next to Owen. 

I can't stop my eyes from closing every few seconds. But of course I force them back open. I can see Owen from the corner of my eye glancing and smiling. As soon as the car comes to a stop, Owen kisses me goodbye, something that catches me off guard. It was tender and soft. I reach to the back and squeeze his moms hand and open my door. My feet trudge to the entrance of my building and I go in without looking back.  

The door is open, that surprises me. "James." I call, not too loudly. I expect him to be on the laptop at the dining table or nosing around in the refrigerator. But he's not. I go to my room and change into my pajamas. My stomach growls as I stretch into a white top and slip into my slippers. They shuffle to my brothers room. I let out a dramatic squeal to express my over exaggeration. "I'm so hungry I think I'll die if I don't consume food in the next ten minutes." When I open the door I freeze, and so does he. 

And so does the girl in bed with him. 

"P." He doesn't have a shirt on, and who knows what he has on under the comforter. Blondie doesn't exactly look dressed either. I look down, to save all of us from a little embarrassment. 

I quickly leave, trying to calm down so my heart won't beat so fast. I don't really know how to act, mostly because I've haven't seen my brother with a girl since before my parents died. I mean, James is very handsome, more attractive than average, which means he should have no problem finding women. I guess he just never has any time with work, and me. 

"Presley." I hear my name , but I don't look back. I'm standing at the end of the long hallway, with one arm wrapped around my stomach and the opposite hand across my mouth. "Presley." he says again, his voice way closer than before. My brothers big hand finds my shoulder, but I shake it off without question. Whatever I'm feeling right now, I don't like it. 

Jealousy. It has to be.

A selfish as this may sound, I always thought I'd be the only girl in James' life. The thought of him getting married and having children never even crossed my mind once. Ever. We've only had each other. Who will be here for me once he has a wife? How will he treat me? How will she treat me? He says my name again and I finally turn around. His guest is in clear sight, a few feet behind him. My hand is still over my mouth, and they're both clothed now. I lean my head against the wall and cross my arms to stare at him. He knows that I'm mad. "I have someone I want you to meet." He tells me innocently, and it makes me think he's afraid that I'll blow up. I'm this close. "This is Kaylin." I look at blondie, who's smiling kindly. All I can think is, I don't need an older sister. "Kaylin, this is my baby sister Presley." he goes for my arm, but I pull back with attitude. He wants me to shake her hand. She seems eager to, and of course I'm the obnoxious teenage sister. "Come on, be an adult about this." I just glare at him, harder than I ever have. 

"Adult." I say, pressing my lips together afterwards. It sounds like a giggle, almost.

"P, this was bound to happen eventually. You didn't actually think I'd never meet someone." he crosses his arms too, so now we were mirroring each other. I just stare, my eyes fixing on his features that are identical to my dad's. The hooked nose, the way his eye lashes go down instead of up like mine. He doesn't have the dip in his top lip like I do, but we do have the same cheekbones. His eyes are dad's, the same dark green, almost brown in a certain light. I look away to stop the tears in my eyes, remembering how I used to be jealous of them. I wanted dad's eyes, not my mother's cakey brown orbs. They look yellow in the sun, something I hated with a passion. But now I'm grateful. "Say something Presley." 

"What do you want me to say?" I choke, even though I don't mean to. 

"Be polite. Shake her hand." He says it sternly, loud enough to scare me into doing it. I don't smile at her, but I do reach out so she can take my hand. She shakes it with an embarassed smile. 

"Your girlfriend?" I ask once I let go. I know I'm being rude, but I can't fight the curiosity. 

"Yeah, she is." he nods, and looks at her with a smile. He looks happy, and it causes a pang in my stomach that I cannot control. I suck in for air as my forehead gets hot, and shove my thumb nail in my mouth. He smacks it out of my mouth. "Stop." A growl. "It's a bad habit." I hit him back, a sisterly thing to do. We haven't gotten physical in years. I want to get him mad, as mad as I am right now. I don't want to feel this way but my veins are jumping under my skin. He punches my arm so I punch back in the same spot. As expected, he grabs my hair and I fall to the floor. He always went for my hair. It doesn't hurt as much as it could have, he always pulled harder when we were little. The prickles on my scalp are familiar. I bite whats available, his calf, and he lets me go. I'm on my feet in an instant. "You're acting like a kid." he announces. Kaylin is beside us, clueless about what to do. I'm glad she stays silent, and that thought leads me to realizing that I hadn't heard what she sounds like yet. "Why are you acting like this?" his voice shows a hint of helplessness in it. 

"How would you feel if you walked in on me and Owen in bed together?" 

"Owen? What does he have to do with anything?" He's frustrated, confused. 

"Omar, remember? That was Owen. And I told you a different name because I knew you'd kill him if you knew who he really was." His jaw is clamped and I hold my smirk back. I can't stop the next words from falling out of my mouth, and I hate myself for it. "I had sex with him today." 

All my brother does is drop his head. Soon his fingers rub his eyes. My hand is suddenly covering my mouth again, because I'm embarrassed. I look at Kaylin, who is bewildered with a shocked look on her face. A weird noise escapes my mouth and I start walking. I leave the apartment and run to the elevator in my sleep attire and fuzzy slippers. He doesn't follow me. 

It's twelve, I've been here for five hours. Thinking. Staring at my parents' stones.

Gregory James Brooks

Amelia Karine Brooks

I'm done crying, I've done enough of that. Now I'm just observing. I look at the design on the stones, the fonts, the size, I think of the weight and the texture. I try as hard as possible to feel them. To feel them with me. I figure maybe if I imagine their scents and their faces, they'll come to me. Maybe if I squeeze my eyes hard enough and rock my body, they'll come back to me. I'm hugging my legs against my chest, my knees touching my chin. My eyes are closed until I finally feel presence around me. A piece of hope sparks within me and I force my orbs to snap open. No sign of my bulky father or my witty mother. Just James next to me, towering over my small figure. 

He sits down and mirrors my position, hugging his knees. He stares too. Its dark, but we're sitting close enough to see the carvings and the dead flowers scattered around us. Thinking about them, my parents, makes my heat ache now more than ever. I'm thinking too hard, something I've become accustomed to in the past week or two. I never allowed myself to do that before, because I've always known it was dangerous. Visions of my family flicker into my head. The four of us sitting at the table, eating ice cream after dinner. Mom crushing Oreo's on James' bowl and Dad throwing sprinkles on mine. I'm big enough to be aware of my surroundings, maybe five or six. And James is going through his awkward phase at thirteen, acting like it isn't cool to sit around the table and eat ice cream with your parents and your kid sister. But I remember how he'd still creep out a smile every now and again. I thought he was crazy, ice cream was the best invention ever in my brain. Who knew we'd lose all of that. 

I let out a short wail, loud enough for him to hear but not dramatic enough for him to turn his head to look at me. I shield my face with my cold hands. I'm freezing and sweating at the same time, almost like I'm sick. "I'm so stupid." I whisper, and I know my brother hears me, because he snorts. 

"I know." he says back. He uses his big hand to pull my head in his direction. I lean on him, shutting my eyes hard to get the tears out of the way. He strokes my hair, just like he did every night for months after Mom and Dad died. He hasn't done that in such a long time, and that fact made me want to wail again. "You're supposed to be." he adds. 

"I'm sorry. I'll be nice to her. I'll shake her hand all you want. I wont be a bitch to her." I suck in so I won't drool. My nose is runny and my eyes are itchy. I'm doing the ugly cry. All of a sudden I'm desperate. I just want forgiveness. 

He chuckles. "I wouldn't have picked her if I thought you wouldn't like her, P." 

"I was just jealous." I admit it, looking up at him and sniffling. 

"Why? You're still my chipmunk." I roll my eyes, but can't help but smile because he used his old pet name for me. Whenever he wanted me to get him a drink or make him a snack he'd call out "Chipmunk!"  He took advantage of me as his slave at times, and he was so much older than me, which made him a lot taller. Next to him, I was so little. Plus, my cheeks were abnormally large for most of my childhood. Behold the name chipmunk. "You won't be replaced, Presley." He kisses my head quickly and stands up, then reaches for my hand. I catch my balance and we walk to his car, our arms linked together. 

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