Heartbreaks and Older Brother
Leah’s POV :
I always used to chide myself for being the younger kid.
Grant, being the older kid, the “first born”, always got more privileges than me and I despised him for it. For example, he got his own car on his sixteenth birthday but I was ‘too young’ to drive on my own even though I asked for a car on my sixteen birthday and not on Grant’s.
Okay, yeah, fine, I know that’s a terrible reason to despise your older sibling but doesn’t it suck when your older siblings get to do many things you’re not allowed to because, well, they’re ‘older’ and more ‘mature’? Like Grant got to drink beer with dad on his seventeenth birthday but when I was seventeen and wanted to do the same, I was told I was ‘too young’ to drink. I mean seriously?
It was mostly things like that that made me hate myself being younger, oh and the fact that Grant could order me around and I couldn’t (though he did whatever I wanted from him after some time of my initial request as if he isn’t following my orders but being generous).
Despite all that, Grant and I were as much of best friends as any other siblings could be, if we make an exception of his ‘I’m too cool to look after my younger sister’ phase which was a few years back. I loved my brother, I loved him more than anyone in this world and I’d just do anything for him but sometimes my parents’ partial behavior was the reason for the slight drift between us. I loved Grant but I don’t think I have ever been thankful to have him in my life.
Up until tonight, I didn’t know how grateful I was to have an older brother who was more or less my secret best friend who I never really acknowledged as a best friend. Grant has always been there for me, even though in shadows, but he was always there, like an invisible protective shield always guiding me back to safety, guiding me back home.
It had almost been a week and half since I started going back to school. The school was surprised to have me back, if being honest. They must’ve thought that I’d just hide in my home and never show my face again. That’s what I had done for the last week, hadn’t I? But I had decided to not let Sean and Ronnie affect my school life anymore.
Of course, it was easier said than done.
I knew Mom was right, I can’t have my whole future sabotaged because of a broken heart. I still had to take care of my perfectly functioning brain.
Grant had taken it upon himself to drive me back and forth from school and even if I didn’t say it out loud, he knew I needed him to be there. The car rides that usually used to be silent were now filled with his crappy jokes in attempt to make me laugh or the silent, unanswered questions about my self destruction.
Home was, well, not home anymore. I couldn’t believe that all it had taken was me - just a single person to turn a whole family’s regular life upside down. There were no longer the cooking sessions with me and Dad and there were no Fight Club reruns with Grant. There were no gushing about the dresses we saw when Mom and I went for grocery shopping and bought majority of the things we didn’t need. The house was almost dead.
I would hide in my room every day after school, only playing the family part at the dining table. Dad would not take any interest in cooking at home without me and usually he would bring left overs from his restaurant or just fix something random. Mom would just call the store to deliver groceries at home instead of the regular walks she used to take with me. Grant would retire in his room too, to pack up his things before he left for college or to be just away from the silence that was slowly eating our family.
However guilty I felt, I couldn’t bring myself to correct it. I just wasn’t healed yet to heal this breaking family.
Tonight was Grant’s last night before he left for college again. He had decided to take the semester off but I had heard him talk to Dexter, his best friend some nights ago about how the house now suffocated him and it felt like he was grieving all the time. It had been a punch in the guts when I had heard that he had decided to go back and take his classes instead of staying back and all that was because of me.
It was supposed to be a farewell party for him but with me mourning in silence, Dexter had planned a mini get together at Dad’s restaurant with Grant’s closest friends and us.
Of course, being the bitch I was, I didn’t go.
It was around midnight when something hit my window. I was wide awake, reading The Theory Of Everything by Stephen Hawking and also waiting for my family to get back before I could sleep other wise the thought of burglars breaking in would leave me restless.
When I first heard it, I ignored it thinking that I was being delusional. The second time, however, I decided that it was some thief checking to see if anyone was home because all the lights in the house were off except for my table lamp. The third time when it hit, probably a small stone or something like that, I got up from the bed and picked up my phone, ready to speed dial 911 if my assumptions were correct.
Except they were not.
As I removed the curtain, I saw Grant in the lawn with a few pebbles in his hand, ready to hit the window.
“Finally.” I heard him say as I opened the window. “If I didn’t know you any better, I’d think you were dozing off.”
“Grant.” I hissed. “What are you doing?”
“Move back, let me in.” He said.
“You have the keys. Use the door.” I stated and folded my arms in front of my chest.
With the help of the streetlights shining on his face, I could see him pout. “But I always used enter your room this way when we were kids.”
When we were kids.
That did the trick - the memories of us together as the world’s best siblings ever. I sighed. “Come on in. Be careful.” I said and moved back to sit on the edge of my bed.
It took him ten minutes to climb up the drain pipe and into my room - an indication that he was at least tipsy if not completely drunk. I eyed him warily wanting to somehow enter his thoughts and know what he was thinking.
When he jumped inside, he let his eyes roam around and take in the condition of my room. It was a mess unlike on a very normal day. I was a mess unlike on a very normal day.
“Why are you here?” I asked bluntly when he didn’t say anything for a long time.
He looked at me as if I was a stranger he didn’t know and then he looked won. “I miss you.” He said in such a small voice that I almost failed to catch it.
My heart jumped into my throat and my eyes stung as the tears started to force their way out making it harder for me to stop them. I heard him sniffle and realized that I wasn’t the only one who was emotional. It also hit me how hard I had hurt my brother. Grant never cried. Even as kids, I have no memory of him crying. He was, is the strongest person I know and I know I have somehow managed to break his strong exterior if I managed to make him cry.
It if was any other day, I would have joked about getting an award in making something impossible happen. But it wasn’t and I had missed him too.
He sniffled again and hid his palms inside his jeans pockets to prevent the fumbling he was used to whenever nervous. He still didn’t look at me when he said, “It feels like I have lost you, Leah. It feels like I have lost my annoying little sister. I have lost my best friend.”
I don’t know how I managed to stop the tears earlier but hearing him now, I knew I couldn’t and so I just let them flow. I also caught him wiping his tears away.
“I don’t know what happened that day on your birthday. You won’t tell me. You won’t talk to anyone and you would just let it - whatever it is - eat you from the inside. I’m losing you because of that. We used to be best friends, Lee Bear. We never kept secrets from each other and now you’re hurting all alone without including me in it.” He stopped to wipe some more tears that were falling as he sniffled and caught my eye.
He stepped forward and crouched in front of me. “Remember we promised each other that we’d share everything? Pain or laughter - everything. Then why am I not the part of your pain? Why won’t you talk to me? Why did you push me away?” He cried hiding his head in my lap.
I couldn’t stop myself anymore and let myself cry hysterically and put my head over his, shielding my face with the curtain of my hair.
“I’m sorry.” I whispered through tears and chapped lips.
Grant removed his head from my lap which now held a patch where his tears fell and met my eyes. “Why?” He asked in whisper.
I wiped his tear stained cheeks as I shook my head. I knew he wasn’t asking me about why I was sorry. He was asking why I was pushing everyone away.
“Why?” He asked again, this time asking why wouldn’t I tell him.
“I can’t.” I managed to choke out as I burst into tears again. Even thinking about it all made my heart ache all over again, just as much as the first time. Speaking about it out loud would make it all feel real and I was still pathetically hoping that this bad dream would be over one day and I’d wake up and be back to being the happy person I used to be.
He stood up and sat beside me, hugging my petite body as I cried into his chest and he into my hair. “You’re leaving me.” I said between hiccups.
I felt him swallow a lump in his throat. “I can’t see you like this, Lee Bear. It’s hurting me to see you lead yourself towards wreckage. You won’t hold my hand, you won’t let me take you back home with me and I can’t see you like this.” He choked out.
I cried even more hearing him say those words and hugged him completely.
“Here’s a deal. If you tell me what has made you like this, I’d tell you my biggest secret of all time.” He offered.
I broke the hug and looked at him through blurred eyes. “Your secret?”
He sniffled and nodded and pushed a lock of my hair behind my hear. “Biggest of it all.”
I didn’t even need to think about it. I knew I couldn’t. As tempting as Grant’s deal was, I was not ready to accept that I was defeated. I wasn’t ready to accept the truth.
I shook my head. “Can’t.” I whimpered, hiding my face back in his chest.
He nodded and held me closer, tighter and I had never felt safer anywhere but right there, in my brother’s arms. He held me for a long time. He held me till all my tears dried off and I had stopped crying. He held me till he had stopped crying. And I held him back, letting all the guilt drown me even further than I was.
“Lee Bear?” He spoke after a while.
“Can you promise me one thing?” He asked.
“What?” I asked in a whisper.
“Promise me that whenever you are ready, you’d call me and tell me what’s been troubling you. No matter what day, what time. Even if it’s midnight, I’d run back to you but promise me you’d tell me. I won’t ever be able to meet your eye knowing that you are hurting and I’m not able to do anything about it.” He asked.
My emotions were everywhere and his words just kept hitting that sensitive spot where I wanted to blurt out everything and cry on his shoulders, wanting him to hold me until I was okay again. Only I couldn’t. I was too much of a coward for not facing my fears, my defeat, my loss.
“Okay.” I promised because even I knew that someday I’d finally have to open up and who better than the brother who loves and understands you so much.
“Promise?” He asked again holding out his pinkie.
I couldn’t stop the chuckle as I looped my pinkie with his. “Promise.”
He hugged me again and rocked us back and forth. “I have to leave, Princess. Tonight.” He told me.
I broke apart and looked at him confusion. He was to leave tomorrow morning, right?
He sensed my confusion as he spoke. “I needed to talk to you before I go and I have done that. If I stay the night, I’d lose the courage to leave you like this. I can’t see you all broken neither can I meet your eye knowing I can’t help. So I’m leaving now, Dexter is waiting downstairs for me in his truck. We’re driving.”
“And Mom and Dad?” I asked.
“They are still at the restaurant. The gang is keeping them occupied.” He told me and stood up.
I stoop up too allowing him to hug me completely. He kissed my hair and then turned to leave. I was mentally celebrating all the hugs I had gotten tonight. I’m gonna miss him.
“Grant?” I called out when he was just about to let himself out of my room.
“Yeah?” He asked immediately as if I was gonna let him in just now.
I shook my head at him. “I love you.” I said in a whisper.
He swallowed visibly and nodded. He looked at me for a while with a longing look in his eyes and said “I know.”
Just when I thought he was going to go, he came back in and crushed me in a super tight hug. “But I love you more.”