Warning: This work has been rated 16+ for language and mature content.
Thursday, September 4th, 2014, 10:14 pm, Boston
I switch on the light when I get home. My cavernous house opens before me, and I shiver in the dark. "Mom? Are you home?" There's no reply, so I pad up to my parents' bedroom and push the door open. The bed hasn't been slept in, and the lamp is collecting dust. I pull it shut again and sigh.
Of course, it would be asking too much of my parents to come see me more that twice a year.
As I drag my luggage up the stairs, a lone light flickers on in the kitchen. "Natty?" Hopefully our housekeeper knew I was home. Her reedy figure emerges from the darkness, and I go give her a quick hug.
"I knew you'd be coming home, so I figured I'd wait up a bit for you. Now if you'll excuse me, miss, we'll take your luggage upstairs and I'd better be running back home to my kids." She hoists a bag into the air and starts up the stairs. I grab my purse and jog up after her. Just before she leaves, she turns, and adds, "Oh, I nearly forgot to tell you! There's been a message for you. I stuck it on the pad near the phone."
I thank her and watch from the window until her car speeds away, leaving me completely alone. I let myself feel, finally, and sink to the floor, unable to keep up the pretense of being alright anymore. My breath catches in my throat, coming out as a tinny rattle. I sob, but no tears come. Why did I have to fight with him at the last moment, after an entire glorious summer?
Why can't I cry? People don't realize what a blessing it is to be able to cry, to let go. But my body wouldn't let me do that; it wouldn't give me that sweet pain of relief. I stuff those feelings down, ignoring my guilty conscience, and go over to the phone table to find the message Natty said I had received. The lamp switches on at the press of a button, and I hold the pad closer to my face, my hands trembling in a mixture of fear and anxiousness.
Ava says to call her immediately. The word immediately is underlined twice. I furrow my brow. What was Xavier's sister doing, calling at this time of night? It'd be around three am for her in London. I dial the number anyway and sit down. She picks up on the second ring.
"Anne! Is that you?" She sounds like she's been crying, and her voice is wobbly still.
"Ava? What are you doing, calling my at this time of the night? Haven't-"
"Anne, listen to me. Xave's in the hospital. He-"
When I speak again, my voice is nearly a shriek. "Hospital? Why's he in the hospital? What happened to him? Ava, you have tell me!"
I hear her gulp on the other side of the phone. "Xavier was hit by a drunk driver the night you left. He's... he's in a coma." She pauses, and when I don't say anything, adds, "I'm sorry."
My lungs won't work. Or the room has no oxygen left in it. I can hear Ava sniffle on the phone, but it sounds far away, like I'm not here anymore. Finally, just as the room starts to blur, I can breathe again.
Coughing, I fall to the ground. "Are you alright, Anne?" Ava sounds worried.
"I... I don't... no. I'm not alright. My best friend is in the hospital, and you expect me to be perfectly fine?!" My voice raises in pitch until I'm yelling at her.
She yells right back at me. "Your best friend? He's my twin brother! You think I'm not completely torn up inside?"
"Actually, no! You talk to your brother maybe five times a year. So you can take your stupid pity stories and shove them up your ass, where they came from!"
"Really? Everyone knows that the only reason you hang around my brother so much is because you fancy him. And anyway, who'd talk to him with you around? He worships you! Everybody else is worth less than dirt to him."
"Well, maybe if you stuck around for him when he needed you, he'd treat you better!" My temper gets the better of me, and I slam the phone back into it's cradle, hanging up.
The reality of it all hits me, and I run for the bathroom. I barely make it to the toilet before my stomach heaves, and I throw up my dinner.
I curl up on the cold tile. "Xavier..."
Sometime later, I find the strength to stagger back to my room. Stripping my clothes off, I fall into bed. The sharp edge of my nightstand pricks my finger as I search blindly for the bottle of sleeping pills that should have been there. I grasp it, and gulp down some cold water to wash them down. The soft linen settles around me, but my body searches for someone next to me. Someone who's not there. Who might never be there again. I dig my fingernails into my palms to keep myself from thinking. Instead, I speak aloud to distract myself.
"Please, please, let the pills work. I can't wake up screaming, not tonight. I'll do anything..." The drugs kick in, and I sink into sleep, still murmuring the name of the only person I cared about.