“I’m so sorry, but I’m afraid it’s too late now.”
Silence. Nothing else, just silence. I can’t believe it. I am still processing his words. It can’t be. No, that’s not my brother. This is just a terrible nightmare. I try to pinch myself, but I can’t. My body is frozen. I keep telling myself that I’ll wake up in a second but nothing happens. This can’t be true, it’s just a nightmare. When I hear my mother cry, I start to shake. Why is she crying? It’s not true. It’s just a nightmare. Trying to convince myself is useless, since deep down I know that it’s really happening.
It’s true, Beth, it’s happening, my subconscious tells me.
“No, no, no. Mike!” I yell; however, the words come out before I can process them. I yell again, and again. I haven’t even noticed the warm moisture uncontrollably fall out of my eyes. I keep yelling, not knowing if it was intended for my subconscious or if it was for the world and my horrible life.
I come back to reality and the doctors and nurses are holding me from my arms as I scream at the world and cry my heart out. I kick my feet at them and push their hands off me and somehow I manage to fight them off. I struggle to run to my brother, my blurred vision making it impossible to even see where I’m going. I yank the glass door open, not even caring if I break it or not. That’s when I completely break down. I fall on my knees next to his body, my tears wetting his cold lifeless arm which I desperately hold on to. I block myself from the world and just cry. I let my emotions out as I squeeze my eyes closed and sob.
“Why, Mike?” I cry, as if he is listening to me. “Why did you do that to yourself?” I manage to say between sobs.
I feel a hand on my shoulder, and not even bothering to see who it belongs to, I push it away. I just want to be with him even though he wasn’t exactly with me. I want to be alone, with my brother’s dead body. I still can’t believe what he did. Why would he? Thinking about that makes me cry harder. It’s like my heart is shattered into a million pieces. It’s like someone took it out of my chest and is constantly stabbing it to cause more pain. I hold my chest with my other trembling hand and just let it all out.
I have been crying for what feels like days. It has actually been a night. I can feel someone shaking me, and I suddenly open my eyes, startled by the person shaking me. I didn’t realise I had gone to sleep. I am sitting on a chair in front of an empty hospital bed. I panic. Had it really been just a terrible nightmare? I look around in confusion and there is no sign of my mother or brother.
“Where’s Mike?” I ask the nurse who woke me up a few seconds before. It was like my mouth has a mind of its own. My mind is telling me that I have really lost my beloved brother and that it’s really happening, but my heart believes against it. I am so confused. I don’t know what’s happening and I don’t even realise the nurse has answered me.
“Don’t think about that for now, my dear,” she puts it in the nicest way possible, I can see that.
So it’s true, I tell myself, desperately holding the tears in. He really is gone and now they have taken him away, to prepare him for the funeral. The nurse helps me get up and puts her arm around my shoulders. Despite her shorter height she manages to help me stand up properly and guides me to the elevator. I can only imagine what I look like, probably with red, puffy eyes and black eyeliner smudged under my eyes. When the elevator door opens, the nurse helps me get in and, once in, she pushes the button of the ground floor. Her arm is still holding me tightly. It’s probably for the best since I feel that any time soon I might fall or pass out. The elevator door opens once again and this time we get out. The nurse walks me out of the hospital and I notice people staring at my horrible state but I’m too depressed to even care.
Outside I spot my aunt standing beside her silver car. I figure she’s here to pick me up, probably because my mother is as depressed as I am and in no state to drive. When my aunt notices me she walks towards us, hurrying her step. She thanks the nurse and takes me from her arms. She does the same thing as the nurse has done; put her arms protectively around my shoulders. We walk to her car and when we arrive she opens the passenger door for me and helps me get in. Once in, I buckle my seatbelt and lean my head against the window. I can’t think of any other way to react. This is too depressing and I can’t handle it. It’s like a ray of lightning flashed in the sky during a bright sunny day. Everything was going well and then this happened.
“How are you feeling?” I haven’t noticed that my aunt is already in the car and that she has already started driving already. Her question can only be described as stupid. I give her a look and I almost start crying but I stay strong. “You don’t even have to answer that,” she says, her voice showing a hint of unsteadiness. “I’m sorry,” she apologizes.
I lift my head up and look at the road in front of me. We arrive at my house more quickly than I thought we would. My aunt stops the car right in front of my house. I unbuckle and place a soft kiss on my aunt’s cheek and thank her for picking me up, and basically those are the only words that have come out from my mouth during the whole ride.
I walk to the front door and I notice my mom looking out of the window, her hand holding a used tissue in front of her mouth and nose. I search for my keys in my pockets and open the door. I enter and gently close it behind me. I lean against the door for a few seconds and then walk to the living room where my mom still has her back at me. I stop a few steps away from her and when she finally turns around I can see that her eyes are as red as mine probably are. I can feel my eyes water as I look at the state my mother is in. She has just lost her son. She must be feeling worse than me. I gain the courage to walk towards her and pull her in my arms and let her cry on my shoulders. Seeing my mom like that breaks my heart into million pieces. My tears run down like a river on my hands but I try to stay strong for my mother even though it is literally impossible.
After a few minutes my mom let go. Her beautiful blue eyes are broken and filled with pain. I wipe the tears off her cheeks and open my mouth to ask a question but it seems as if she has read my mind.
“I once found something in his room,” she starts. She grabs my wrist in her shaky hands and guides me to sit on the old sofa. She opens her mouth once again to explain. “We argued the following day, but he said they weren’t his.” Tears start streaming down her cheeks once again.
“Why didn’t I know about this?” I ask, trying to hide the annoyance. I can’t understand why I never got to know any of the stuff she’s telling me.
“He didn’t want me to tell you. Not after what you went through with your father.”
I understand, but I am still rather frustrated but I push that thought away and get up to leave and go to my room. I start walking away and I hear my mom’s soft voice call my name. I immediately stop, not turning around, and listen carefully to what she tells me.
“I have prepared your outfit,” her calm voice tells me. “Everything is in your bedroom.”
I nod and make my way to my room. I slowly climb the stairs and when I reach the top, right in front of me, I see my brother’s bedroom. With a Beatles poster hung on the door. I quickly look away, afraid that tears might start forcing their way out, and enter my bedroom. On my bed is a black dress and black sheer tights next to it. Hung to the wardrobe’s door is a black blazer, and a pair of black heels is lying on the floor underneath it. It seems so much more real now. I get the feeling that the outfit is there to remind me that me that I am going to my 23-year-old brother’s funeral, in case I forget, but how can I? How can a sister ever forget her brother’s death?
I open my dresser and take some underwear out. I grab my tights and dress and go to the bathroom. I lock the door behind me and slide down to the floor. I sit there on the cold tiles, my back at the door, and cry for what feels like the millionth time the last two days. It’s real, it’s happening, I remind myself. I cry even harder as I think about my gone brother. I miss him dearly. I miss his bright smile and stupid jokes. I miss the times he used to sneak out and beg me to cover up for him. I miss how he had always been there for me. I simply miss him.
I get up from the floor and put my clothes on the toilet lid. I look at my reflection in the mirror. I’m a mess. My eyes are red and puffy, as I had figured, and I don’t know how the black eye liner is still smudged, since all the tears should have wiped it off. I remove my hair from the messy bun it has been in and undress. I get in the shower and let the warm water wet my hair and body, calming me a little, but not snapping me out from the nightmare that is my life. I wash my hair and body and once ready I engulf myself in a towel. I brush my hair and remove all the knots the shampoo and water haven’t managed to get rid of and dry my long brown hair with the hair-dryer. I put it in a proper bun and secure it with some bobby pins. I dry the few drops of water off my body and put on my underwear. I get in my tights and dress and properly remove all the eye liner off my face, then walk back to my room.
I quickly put on some pink lip gloss. I don’t bother to put any mascara or eye liner on since it will probably be smudged once again. I put on my blazer and grab a random small black bag from my closet and put my phone in it. It already contains a pack of tissues, as if the bag itself has known I would need them in the future. I slip on my shoes, put my bag on my shoulder and go downstairs. My mom is just where I have left her, sitting on the sofa. However, she has showered and is wearing a proper black dress. I figure she’s waiting for me so we can leave.
“Aunt Liz is picking us up in five minutes,” she informs, her voice still without any emotion. I can tell that she was crying before I showed up because she has some eye liner smudged under her eyes. I sit next to her and remove her smudges with my thumb. She weakly smiles at me and I return one back.
After a few minutes we hear a horn from outside and I immediately get up. My mother is looking down at her feet, afraid that if she looks up everything will be permanently real forever. I grab her hand and encourage her to get up. She slowly stands up and walks after me. We stop for a few seconds behind the front door and both take a deep breath.
“You look beautiful, Beth,” she compliments, trying to make me feel better, which she knows that is of no use. Yet, I thank her for the compliment and kiss her hand.
“Let’s go,” I say sighing.
I open the door and let my mother go out first. I let her hand go and grab the keys from the key holder hung to the wall. I shut the door behind me and lock it. My mother waits for me and then we walk together to my aunt’s car. I open the passenger door for her and let her get in. I sit at the back and put the seatbelt on. My aunt and I exchange weak smiles and she drives to the cemetery for the funeral.
Everything seems so real now, I think.