Eli hadn’t come home last night, but I pretty much justified it by believing he probably just fell asleep there. He was probably in desperate need of a break after all of the weeks of hell I had put him through, not to mention the fact that we had to cook for Thanksgiving in two days. I was grateful that I didn’t have to cook for the entire family this year. They were all heading to one of the other’s houses. I couldn’t find it in myself to go be with them, I didn’t want to give the rundown of why my son had died, and how it had come to be in the first place.
I didn’t want anyone to know about how much pain I was in. Eli was the only person that deserved to know. He had to be feeling pain as well. Even if he didn’t cry about it openly like I did, or sulk around the house, he had to feel it. Right in his heart, where he must have buried it away so no one could see; especially not me.
I stared at my phone as I got the children their breakfasts, ignoring the empty seat that Cooper had once occupied. I knew that the children might be able to get over him someday, but I never would. Because I was always going to remember every little detail. To his weaker left side, straight down to the way he would smile at me with a lopsided grin, and bid me good morning, as though every day were so wonderful, even though he had to have always been in such pain. It wasn’t wonderful any longer. I couldn’t see a reason to find happiness in the world around me.
But one thing I did know was that the shutout I had been forcing upon Eli wasn’t right. He shouldn’t have been left each night reaching out to me because I wasn’t there for him. I wasn’t the only one in pain. I shouldn’t be selfish about it. But I had been. I still was; being selfish.
As I saw the text from Eli, I let out a sigh of relief. It was exactly as I had expected, he had simply fallen asleep at Anna’s house. I knew I didn’t have to worry about my big brother, he always found his way home even if he strayed far from it. I didn’t have to worry, he would always come back.
By the time that Eli came back inside the children were all out on the beach, playing in the sand, and giggling with one another. I was sitting at the dining room table, sipping from a coffee mug soundlessly as I watched. Eli stared over towards me as he came in the front door, before he gave me a hasty greeting.
“I have to go shower.” Was all he mentioned, and I gave a small shrug before he headed up the stairs.
I had to admit he looked a bit disheveled but it must have been from the fact that he had drank quite a bit. If he had passed out at Anna’s house he certainly must have gotten himself heavily drunk. I couldn’t really blame him if he had, I wished that I could drink, and continued to drink until I was passed out in ignorant bliss. Losing Cooper was the hardest thing I had ever had to endure, and though I was trying to be a little bit strong for my children I was still hurting on the inside. I still couldn’t see past what Cooper had meant to me.
Putting down my coffee mug I stood to my feet, and climbed the stairs two at a time, before listening at the shower door, hearing the sound of running water, and Eli’s scrubbing. It was soothing to listen to him, and when he stepped out of the shower I shuffled back downstairs to check on the children, knowing that they shouldn’t be left alone outside.
They were still playing heavily in the sand outside, building sandcastles, and giggling. Generally back to as much of a semblance of normal as it was possible for them to be. I know in time they probably wouldn’t even remember their brother, and I had to admit that fact hurt.
“Are you okay?” Eli’s voice behind me, nearly made me jump, and I let out a breath of air, before nodding my head. I suddenly felt exhausted, as though every bone in my body was going to give way on me. This had been happening more, and more frequently, and I was beginning to think it was because I was depressed. Losing Cooper had taken a toll on me physically as well.
Eli leaned down, and stole a kiss from my lips as I forced myself to nod.
Returning the kiss I pulled back to search his blue gaze, “I suppose I should be asking if you are alright.” I mentioned slowly, “You were the one that drank last night…you must have a hangover.”
He seemed to avoid my eyes when I mentioned his drinking habits from the previous night, and I didn’t know what was off about him, but something was. Maybe his nightmares were acting up again. Had he wet himself at Anna’s house? I know I had managed to get his nighttime accidents under control, but he still had slip ups now and then.
The look on his face was something I wasn’t used to seeing from him. He looked guilty, but for the life of me, I couldn’t think why that would be, so I shoved it out of mind.
“I am fine, just needed a shower is all.”
He had layered on his cologne, and that was abnormal for him. He was potently smelling of it, and it was making my stomach churn more than it had been previously.
“Did you have a…problem at Anna’s? Something go wrong? You are acting…I don’t know…different.” I mentioned, deciding this was going to be the only time I brought it up.
He seemed to understand what I meant, because his cheeks flushed red, and he shook his head profusely, “Of course not! You know that’s under control now.” He refused to look me in the eyes now, and I shrugged my shoulders.
“Alright. Well I need to lay down. I feel sick.” I muttered, and I began to head up the stairs, deciding I didn’t want to get into anything with him right now. I didn’t really want to be around anyone, not even the children. It was getting harder, and harder to be around my children with each passing day. Eli didn’t question me, in fact he simply watched me as I headed up the stairs, completely silent before he headed outside, and I was out of sight.
Once in my room I stripped myself of my clothes, and crawled into bed. Falling asleep without fail within seconds of doing so.