Glass Corridors: A Short Story
You don’t remember the first time you watched someone die.
There are a few instances that stick out in memory—either because of something they said or did beforehand as you watched from the unseen, glass corridors—but your first encounter with death still evades you.
Yet all of them, as you’ve always been craftily reminded, have been your fault.
It’s been a while since your parents passed, leaving you and your brother, Yotam, alone in your home. Their dry bones lay deep beneath the dusted floors of the basement, laid to rest in the spot they had always wanted, serving a purpose they knew they would.
But aside from the occasional guest of your brother’s, your parents’ presence had always been the driving force of keeping people away, keeping your family secrets hidden. They were—are—dirty secrets, those well-worth keeping hidden from the world.
Because the world doesn’t understand.
"Out there, you’re disgusting," Mother reminded you, slipping her fingers through your snow-white hair—back when she could draw breaths that smelled of sweet, intoxicating death. “People remember, you know. Your image will burn in their minds, scarring them like a horrible monster. It would only drive them to come back here, and…”
"And what?" you remember asking, looking away from the mirror that reflected her reasoning.
Mother looked down at you, her brown eyes narrowed in the candlelight. "Don’t ask questions."
Even after your parents’ death, that had been the go-to explanation. 'Don’t ask questions.' Don’t ask why you look the way you do—you just do. Don’t ask why people out there are evil beasts, they just are. Despite how differing their opinions had been, Yotam took their reins when they had passed away. Usurping the role of Father, he is the only one allowed out of the house.
With how sensitive your skin has always been to heat and to light, you tell yourself that this is only logical, that the curiosity inside you doesn’t make sense. And, as you stare at your older brother, you must acknowledge the fact that he looks wholly unlike you would keep him safe.
Where your entire being, save for your disgusting, pinkish eyes, can be summed up under one colour—white—Yotam’s cannot; his body is alive with colour, with beauty. His skin isn’t the sickly milk colour yours is, but a handsome caramel. Raven-coloured hair sits atop his head like a crown, emphasizing cheekbones that look as though they were cut from a diamond-maker.
But it’s his eyes that charm you—in a way you know you shouldn’t be, in a way that makes you shudder every time you look at him. Sapphires stare back at you as you sit on the stairs, knocking your clumsy knees together as you pretend not to be watching him.
“I won’t be long,” he promises, his dark lips curving into a smile. No, you can’t look at them either. It’s only when he reaches out a hand atop your head that you realize you’ve shut your eyes. “Promise.”
You nod—for what else is there you can do?—and watch as he opens the front door.
The light that pours through makes you wince, and you have to scramble up a few steps to get away from it.
His laugh rings out, deep and throaty, and it just makes things worse. “Told you—eight steps up in daylight.” You know this—you’ve always known it—but a part of you just can’t help being near to him, to the only other person you’ve ever known.
“Take care, Brother,” you answer softly, and he shuts the door, sending the house back into its lovable darkness. A single candle lit in every room a bright house does not make; it’s the way things have always been, but the lack of light isn’t what scares you the most.
He must take care of himself, even when he leaves for days on end; nothing has ever brought him back in such a way that says elsewise. Though you have enough food to last for possibly a couple of months—Mother and Father’s gracious parting gift—a sense of longing always takes hold whenever he’s gone. It was like that even when your parents lived, and it still continues to eat away at you.
Was it the way he was always hushed about what happened out there? Danger lurks around every corner outside the house—you know this, because Mother and Father and Yotam have said as much, and why would they ever lie?—but none more formidable than people. While your brother may look like them, he’s not. You love him, always have, and though he constantly tells you he doesn’t mind going out there for you—for both of you—you still can’t help but feel he does.
"Don’t be silly," Mother cooed one time, washing your back with an old sponge. The icy water felt so good against your blistered skin; falling asleep next to a window had garnered its own punishment. "It’s not him they’d fear, not him they’d hate; he will be fine."
You suppose he will, but it never feels that way.
When Yotam’s away, there is no one—literally not another living, breathing soul—in the house for as long as he feels the need to stay. All you’re left with is the creaking floorboards, and the occasional crackle of rain or snow against the aged glass of the windows. Goosebumps prickle against your diseased-looking skin at the reoccurring thought of him choosing to stay out there, away from you.
Crying yourself to sleep is a familiar tune. Finding your way to his bed, you plant your face in his pillow, carefully taking in his smell as the salt from your tears stains your cheeks. "He won’t be back," you tell yourself. "He has no reason to anymore."
But four nights pass, and he returns.
You don’t greet him at the door; it’s dangerous, so you hold back, waiting behind one of the one-way mirrors that have been covertly installed throughout the house with glass walls. The one you wait behind, as he shuffles through the door among company, runs along the main corridor, exposed to the massive railings and entrance area below.
Sucking in some breath, you count the people he brings in, careful to take each of them in.
Three women about his age, all scantily clad, full chested, and, as you note with a little venom in your veins, clinging to him. They’re all laughing at some unheard joke, their painted lips parted in breathless smiles as he closes the door behind them and locks it. Though the smell of liquor is apparent even from your distance, you still wince when the one in jean shorts too small for her shoves her tongue down his throat, pulling her arm around his neck and forcing him forward onto her.
Yotam does what he always has, and allows her show of affection. Wrapping his hands in her enviable, fiery hair, he pushes her pelvis closer to his, which only seems to make the others jealous. It’s clear by their matching tank-tops—also too small for their curvy bodies—that they’re from the same sorority; their pack-like behaviour is obvious, the need to share this gorgeous man between then growing with every second.
Red pulls away from him, a web of saliva still on her lips, and its clear by the way she can’t take her eyes from him that the alcohol isn’t the only thing she’s intoxicated by. Her friend giggles, a high-pitched squeak that makes you whimper, before taking her turn with your brother.
As the bile rises in your throat, the only solace you can take from this is that they’ll all be served medium-rare.
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