If there was a competition between River and I, he gave me the power to win that night. I hadn’t suffered an episode like that in years. Tom had only witnessed it happen once in the past, and we never spoke of it.
All I had to do was tell Meat Head what happened, and he would have kicked his brother out. I knew it was that simple, and yet, I couldn’t help but overcomplicate things. River was drunk, so as much as I wanted to be rid of him, I decided to keep the incident between us. I didn’t want to lose my boyfriend, but River was working to regain his brother; I could see that. I wasn’t blind to our opposing sides, but I knew we didn’t have to be in opposition.
The following morning tested my resolve. Tom asked a bunch of questions about our night out, but I left out the parts about my mental breakdown and hysteria. When he left for work, River and I were left in the apartment alone. He hadn’t left his room all morning, and I didn’t make an effort to see him.
I was embarrassed, ashamed, and humiliated. Mad as I might have been, I hated that someone saw me like that. River saw my broken parts. No one was allowed to see my cracks, maybe Tom was an exception, but his brother wasn’t. Still, I neglected to tell Tom anything.
Halfway through the day and I spent a few hours working on my comic. Work consisted of anything from actually drawing to throwing pins at empty soda cans while I tried to think. My creative process was less of a process and more of a mindset.
“We need to talk,” River said behind my back, prompting me to turn around in my seat.
I hated that my office was in the living room. There was no privacy.
“No, we don’t,” I said, continuing to ink several of my pages rather than starting a conversation.
“What was that? Last night, what was wrong with you,” he asked.
“It’s nothing,” I said, trying to ignore him, but he spun my seat around and made me look at him.
“You screamed for nearly 20 minutes straight before you passed out. I wouldn’t call that nothing,” River debated.
“I didn’t tell Tom.”
“I think you should,” he answered to my surprise.
I couldn’t look him in the eye, so I got up from my seat to walk away. Sadly he followed me.
“He needs to know what’s wrong with you,” River added.
“There’s nothing wrong with me. You forced me behind the wheel after I told you I don’t drive,” I said, turning back around.
“So now it’s my fault,” he asked with false innocence.
“Yes! It’s your fault for getting drunk. It’s your fault for not listening. It’s your fault for,” I started to fly off.
He slapped me. With an open palm, River slapped me. It wasn’t anything harsh, but it was quick and sudden.
“The hell!” I exclaimed, holding my face even though it didn’t hurt.
I couldn’t believe he was so brazen.
“You done yet?” He asked smugly.
“You can’t fucking hit me!”
“That wasn’t hitting you. That was getting your attention,” he debated while rolling his eyes.
I wanted to hit him back, but I turned away before I could. After grabbing a jacket and shoes, I was on my way outside. It was raining, like always, but I couldn’t share space with Tom’s brother.
“I’m sorry I made you piss yourself last night, it won’t happen again, but Tom needs to know,” he said, stopping me from walking outside.
“No,” I said.
“You need help,” he added while blocking the door.
“You don’t want to help me; you want to get rid of me,” I said.
He made me wait, but eventually, River moved. As I stepped outside, I wasn’t expecting him to follow me out into the rain, but he did. Without a jacket or umbrella, River followed me.
“I’m telling Tommy what happened when he gets home,” he said.
I had to stop. I hadn’t even made it to the stairs yet, but knowing he was behind my back, I couldn’t go any further.
“He’ll be mad at you,” I argued.
“If you’re already over it, I’m sure he’ll get past it too,” River said while rain drenched his clothes.
Though, he wasn’t wearing much aside from his blue jeans and socks.