Short Stories

A Brief Moment

Being curled up on the couch on a Sunday night and watching movies used to be what I looked forward to at the end of a stressful week. But today that is not the case. Instead of laughing at every scene in ‘Liar Liar’ like we’d normally do, there’s a tense silence in the room and vacant expressions etched across our faces.

My chest tights as I want to do something to help the other four people beside me but I don’t know what to do.

A small hand tightens its grip on mine. I look next to me where my younger sister, Clara has pulled my hand to her lap and envelops it with her much smaller and warmer hands. She tiredly leans her head against my arm and nuzzles her forehead against my bare skin.

My voice is stuck in my throat. ‘I know. I miss them too.’

I rest my head on top of hers, and casually scan the others. Emotionless faces, stiff postures, teary eyes.

I sigh quietly.

Why?

Being the eldest of five brothers and sisters, I was always expected by my parents to help my younger siblings without complaint. And reluctantly I did. A few months ago my job was tied between helping them tidy their rooms and taking them to the movies. Very simple demands looking back on it now while at the time it seemed like too much to ask for, and for me turning eighteen would be the start of the end of my ‘duty.’ I’ve always imagined it would be great. A monumental milestone. It would equal to more freedom and exciting experiences. Move out of my childhood home with no-one to tell me what to do anymore or ask to help finish my brother, Johnny’s maths homework. It was something to look forward to.

Unfortunately life doesn’t turn out the way you hope.

I don’t think like I used to do. Now my thoughts are consumed with grief and the enigma of how we will make it on our own.

I held on tightly to my sibling’s hands as we watched the bodies be lowered together underneath the ground. A tombstone by the head and roses tossed on top of the coffins. Side-by-side. They would have wanted that.

‘At least they didn’t suffer during their last breaths.’ Tears run down my pale cheeks.

Died from impact.

A fucking drunk driver. She’s the cause of this, why my parents died. Taken sooner than we wanted. On their way to their twenty-fifth wedding anniversary dinner. Red light means ‘STOP’ which she wasn’t able to comprehend if she did a moment sooner our Mum and Dad would still be here.

Or, she could have hit someone else on her way home.

But instead the reality is that now we are all orphans; I, Clara, Johnny, and our baby twin brothers, Peter and Patrick. We can no longer see our parents in the flesh. Or have them embarrass us when we are out in public. Speak to them first thing in the morning. It didn’t matter how early it was or how tired they were, my parents never failed to smile when they saw us come down the stairs.

We can’t get that back.

I can’t do anything to ease this pain. Mine. Or theirs.

Being the oldest makes it my full responsibility to take care and comfort my brothers and sister. I have to appear strong and put together for them even though I’m breaking apart on the inside.

I turned eighteen a month ago and decided that it’s time to grow up since there are four children depending on me now. Members of our extended family graciously offered to take me and my siblings in their homes however we would be separated across the country and I’ll be damned if that happens. We’re still in mourning, and losing each other on top of that would have caused more grief than help. The next day I permanently and legally became their guardian, changed my previous plans of further education in search for a job, to work seven days a week to try and keep the bills paid.

Tomorrow’s the day everyone goes back to school for the first time since and I start my very first job.

I shut my eyes and for a brief moment imagine that they are sitting next to me.

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