I lay flat on one of the beds and squeeze my eyes shut. Something tugs inside me as I listen to my sister's howls. She thinks I can't hear her because of the running shower, but the walls are thin.
Stop, I tell myself. This is her fault, not yours.
I don't need to feel sorry for her, in fact, I don’t have to feel anything but my anger. My rage. My loathing.
It hurts so much less to just not care.
That's what Natalie seems to have done too, not care.
Maybe that makes me a hypocrite but like I said, I don't give a damn. It was her choice that led us to this point.
Another loud, choking howl erupts from the bathroom and I yank my fingers through my hair.
I can see my life like a chain of events, clear as day up to this very minute. There's so many different paths and things I could've done differently, and I wish I could just go back and alter those events so that I could be somewhere else. So that I could be someone else.
My sister shattered me like glass the day she left. I mean, yeah I pulled myself together eventually, but there will always be that unamendable crack, and the empty space from broken shard I couldn't find. No matter how hard I try I will never be fixed. It's not possible. I could live a thousand years and still be damaged.
But without her you would’ve been broken much sooner, a voice in my head whispered.
A part of you knows she had to leave. Part of you can’t blame her for that.
But she could have taken me! I hissed back.
Yes. She was eighteen. She was legal.
Taking you would’ve been kidnapping.
Stop. Shut up.
I groaned, rubbed my fingers against the side of head. I was going crazy. I was in a hotel with my absentee sister for more years than I cared to admit, who claimed our worthless father was dead. And to make matters worse, I was talking to myself! I knew it had been a habit I had developed over the years to keep me sane. It helped my think through things instead of acting blindly. Shaking my head I closed my eyes and counted to ten.
Another little trick of mine. A sound of unmatched agony ripped through my sister’s throat, my fingers went to hair, yanking harshly on the short strands.
After what felt like years later, the howling stopped. My fingers loosened in my hair.
There were a few small whimpers left, but after a few minutes those were gone too. The shower silenced and I heard a shuffle in the bathroom. I shifted onto my side and faced to the wall, away from the bathroom.
A click, and I heard the squeal of the door swinging open. I slowed my breathing, mimicking sleep. A sigh. Her feet patted over the creaking floor and stained carpet, and I heard the whining protest of the bed springs from her weight.
A pull of a lamp string, and all fell to darkness. Except for the occasional sound from my deadbeat sister, the room was quiet. As tired as I was, my eyes refused to shut. My body refused to shut down in the same room as Natalie. I sighed softly and heard Natalie shift. My body stiffened in response. After a few tense minutes, I relaxed but still, sleep evaded me.
Faces, names, and conversations ran through my head at the speed of light. Despite how fast they were moving, I remembered everything. Every word that was spoken, every tone that was used, every bloody towel I had to throw away. I groaned softly, my head feeling like it was going to explode. The room was suddenly too hot and i was sweating even being on top of the covers. Panting, I jumped up and ran to the door. Shoving my feet into my shoes, I grabbed the key card and left the hotel room.
I walked downstairs and went to the front desk. The lady behind it looked bored and curious at the same time. It was then that I realized how late it actually was. Looking to the clock on the wall behind me,i confirmed my suspicion.
“How can I help?” She asked as I walked closer to the desk. I don’t why I came to the front desk, I need fresh air.
“Can I ask you something?” I started hesitantly.
“I guess,” she said unsure of what to expect.
“If someone you once loved left you in a bad situation and then showed up years later expecting things to be different what would you do?” I asked being vague on purpose. The lady looked at me like I was crazy and I sighed internally. She stared at me until I looked away. I saw her name tag and saw her name was Trisha. I sighed outwardly this time and started walking back to the stairs.
“Wait!” The woman from the front desk called, just as I had reached the door to the steps. I turned and looked at her, wondering what she would say.
“I know what I would do,” she said. She called to the back for a ‘Maggie’ and seconds later, an elderly woman came to the front. They had a short conversation that ended with Trisha leaving the front counter and Maggie taking over. Trisha walked over to me, stopping a foot away.
“What would you do?” I asked softly, my stomach churning part in fear part in anticipation. I knew it was weird to ask a stranger advice inadvertently, but I needed someone to tell me what to do.
Trisha took a breath and spoke. “I would be grateful they came back. But then the anger and confusion would overwhelm me and I wouldn’t want anything to do with them. I would want to know their motives and why they came back but most of all I would want to know why they left. I would be spending my free time making a list of excuses that I would accept when they finally gave me their explanation. Then, once that explanation came, I would forgive them, no matter what. List or no list. I guess it comes down that old saying we learn when we’re kids. ‘If you love something, let it go. If it doesn’t come back to you, it was never really yours to begin with.’” Trisha shrugged and walked away without a backward glance or second thought of what she said.
Her words sank deep into my subconscious mind and I knew that I would be thinking about them for a while. I nodded to myself and went back upstairs knowing that there was no way I would ever forget what Natalie did to me. I knew she hoped things would be less awkward between us but what she didn’t understand was how my life was affected by her abandonment. She might as well have died. She left me to rot in Hell with a drunk abusive father as my only company. What kind of sister leaves their brother to die in the childhood home they grew up in?
A selfish one, the voice in my head responded.
No one asked you, I spat back heading into the room. I gathered some pillows and a blanket and settled on the floor. There was no way in Hell I was going to share a bed with the person sleeping there now. Not a sister like her.
YOU ARE READING
After We Said GoodbyeMystery / Thriller
Natalie Gray was supposed to be out. For good. She walked away from her past eight years ago and never looked back... even though she left behind the person she loved the most. She thought she'd finally escaped the clutches of the past she so desper...