It’s time for another song-inspired flash fiction, and I have the feeling that everyone is going to hate me for picking this song, because it’s depressing as fuck. But whatever. I like songs that are depressing as fuck. This one is called Family by Noah Gundersen. Here’s the link if you want to hear it. And here’s a link to the lyrics.
I stared at my brother, Michael. “Seriously. You’re pre-gaming? This is a family reunion—not a high school football game.”
“Gonna drink until I’m happy to be here.”
Handing him a can of beer, I said, “In that case you might as well just shotgun that entire cooler, lay down and let alcohol poisoning do its work.”
He actually had the decency to look chastised but ruined it by adding, “What? It’s not like you want to be here, either.”
Swallowing back the tears I refused to cry, I turned back to the counter and chopped potatoes that were still too hot from having recently been boiled. “Look, either make yourself useful in here, or go find somewhere else to drink.”
He pushed off the doorframe he was leaning against, and set the can on the counter. “What do you want me to do?”
I don’t know. Stop being a selfish prick? Grow up already? I shoved a cutting board and paring knife his way. “Chop the celery.”
Sighing, he set his beer can down on the counter and grabbed the knife.
“Dude.” I nodded toward the sink.
Rolling his eyes, he washed his hands then began slowly, methodically chopping, as if he was forcing his hands to do things they usually didn’t.
We both stared at his hands. Or maybe he stared at the knife slicing through the stiff, green vegetable flesh, and I stared at his hands—the bruised and scabbed over knuckles, the scar that curved from the base of his thumb to the back of his hand. The one I’d found him trying to stitch with sewing thread by himself in the middle of the night when I was fifteen or sixteen.
He’d needed to go to the hospital, but he refused. He’d been too drunk to finish the job—and even if he hadn’t, he wouldn’t have been able to hold the skin together and stitch it at the same time. So I’d stitched it for him, trying not to vomit while trying not to let him bleed on my pajamas. Neither had been easy. When we were done, I’d put some antibiotic ointment and gauze on it and sent him to bed. I’d covered for him in the morning, too. I still wasn’t sure why I’d done that. Just like I wasn’t sure why I kept giving him chance after chance to break my heart.
I guess I hoped that one day he’d go back to being the brother I remembered. The one who was genuinely happy to see me. Who used to laugh at my jokes. Who used to tell me that everything would be okay and mean it.
Of course, I wanted those same things from my husband, too. And I was just as likely to get them. I blinked rapidly, trying to clear the sudden stinging in my eyes.
“You okay, brat?”
I looked away from his hands and back to the potatoes that were continuing to burn mine. “Yep. I’m good.”
“It’s been a while, but you’re still the shittiest liar I’ve ever seen.”
I didn’t say anything. There wasn’t anything to say. I just kept cutting potatoes into the giant, yellow Tupperware bowl, refusing to look at him.
Pulling the knife from my hand, he tugged me into his arms. I stood stiffly, until he smoothed his rough hand over the top of my head. For just a minute, I sank gratefully into his embrace, resting my head against his shoulder…missing him more than ever.
Well, that’s it for my attempt at flash fiction today. Click on the names of the other bloggers and see what they came up with.
Jess (Technical Note: Jess is having issues withe the blog again. Her post might be up later.)