personal blog: simon

“hey bro,” my brother’s, Leo’s, favourite name for me. not smut or snot, lime my sister used to call me. “want one?” offering me a cigarette. he used to sneak them into the house, and as much as our father smoked, he frowned upon us to be doing the same.

Leo would smoke with his friends at the skate park. I had little preference for illicit remedies or smoking, but Leo allowed me to tread along and hang with the older boys, learning bad language and tricks of picking up girls. although, to me, it was all so humorous.

“say it again,” Leo encouraged.

“fuck!” I shouted and we both laughed.

Leo would let me curse and teach me how to hold my own in a fist fight, which I avoided at all cost… and maybe he was different because everyone treated him different. he looked nothing like me, my sister, or Nigel. nothing like my father. with dark hair and deep brown eyes, he was teased enough by Gemma and Nigel that he was adopted, that he was a little slower in school, and that he looked like my father’s brother, who’s been in and out of prison enough times that we all lost count. streets are where Leo excelled, where he cracked heads and led… and he was a fair leader.

my brother Leo used to comfort me through any shit that made me feel like an outsider. Leo, my hero, at least in my childhood, before Jacob into my existence.

I succumb to my weight, collapsing on the couch. my home. my dear home but I feel estranged in it, now that it’s certainly empty of Kevin. the ‘SOLD’ sign leaning to the window. I don’t like the size and colour of it but I render to leave it be and listen to the tapping. the neighbour repairing his fence after the last storm.

“here, take it,” Leo shoved a stolen case of drawing crayons to my hands, tapping his foot. “you’re good at it.” it, he meant drawing but I lingered before concealing the crayons in my backpack, as he disappeared into the crowd of students.

Leo would steal notoriously. at times, I think, it was for amusement and dare and everyone thought that Leo would end up stuck behind bars. yet, he is the only one who went off to get his Masters and in engineering to everyone’s surprise. he was good with his hands, building meticulous structures of whatever piece of trash he dragged from the dumpster. he had a collection of bridges and towers lined up on the shelf in his bedroom, like trophies.

I muster the strength to pick myself up, dawn to fill the vase, and water the plants that I have been neglecting. the dishes in the sink have piled up. Kevin was good at tending to those chores, but then he is good in the kitchen and was good at keeping me out before I spoiled another meal.

I know. I know. I can never ask him for help again. I shouldn’t it.

I wring out the sponge and toss it back to the sink. dishes left for another day, and I feel drenched. I forget time and the day, and to bathe and eat, realizing that my last actual meal was four days ago. I have lived on snacks and water since Sunday, and I catch a reflection of myself in the washroom mirror, looking a little daunting. I should at least shave my blond bristles that Kevin adored. I look younger without them, and I open the drawer reaching for the shaving cream.

the razor-sharp tongue of my mother’s argument at the hospital, but Leo was the only one who sat by my bed after I lost consciousness and fell one flight of stairs. I was nine. it wouldn’t be the first time Leo sat by my bed. the last, however, was after my father attacked me.

“does it hurt?” Leo asked but his eyes were telling me more as if he knew, sitting there biting his nails and unable to stop staring at me.

“it hurts to breathe a little,” I chuckled and my ribs hurt more.

but Leo threw himself at our father, tearing him off me, confiscating my father’s fists away from me. maybe I was ready to die, but Leo didn’t allow it.

the rage in my father’s strikes was enough for Leo to grasp that something horrible has happened, and then Leo revealed the truth. “I know,” he said. “I saw him.” he paused, “leaving your room… and I heard you crying.”

“he reads me stories,” even on the hospital bed I couldn’t say it.

“stories shouldn’t make you cry,” and Leo turned to the door as if making sure no one could overhear him. “you should tell them what happened.”

the police already came and left my room, questioning the incident of my father’s rage, my assault, questioning my mother about domestic abuse and my mother yelled how absurd it all sounded.

“you should tell them,” Leo persisting to convince me to tell the truth. “if not, I will.” Leo threatened and I knew he would vouch for me. after all, he stood up to our father just at seventeen. he always had courage.

I wish I could see Leo more but he’s moved to Newfoundland. two kids and a wife I’ve met through the computer screen. she seems like a wonderful creature who brings a smile to Leo’s face every time he speaks of her and his children, and the joy it brings me to witness that. he rarely comes home and I miss him.

“don’t hurt it,” I said observing the caterpillar in Leo’s palm.

“you’re so odd,” but he meant that in the most admirable way. “I won’t hurt it,” he promised and he didn’t hurt the little crawler. he laid it back on the leaf and nudged my shoulder. “the things I do for you.”

“you mean the illegal things you do that I never ask you to do. if they come for you, I will deny that I’m your conspirator,” I snickered, “or that I’m your brother.”

but Leo only laughed, jabbing my shoulder twice more but lightly. he liked teasing.

the lukewarm water fills the sink and I spin the razer in it, washing away the tiny spikes, the residue, barely visible. ‘you’re beautiful,’ common compliment men would tell me, but I never felt beautiful and I most definitely don’t feel beautiful now. if anything, I feel repulsive and wretched.

the phone chimes and I glance at the notification. “call me.” Bryan’s name lights up at the top.

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© simon whittle — second act