Tina was one of my favorite clients. She worked from home as a family therapist and more than once let me use her massage session as my therapy. I wasn't open with too many people, but Tina had no one to tell my secrets to. It made me sad for her, though, thinking about how lonely she must be in her big, empty house eating dinner alone in front of the TV. Then again, that's what my life consisted of, so I guess I shouldn't feel too sad for her. I felt slightly guilty about the way a strike of fear slapped against me—was Tina's life my future?

Today's session with her felt like it was never going to end. I checked the clock again: ten minutes left.

"So, how are things with your brother?" she asked. I moved her hair to the side so I could focus on the tight muscles in her neck. Tina had recently cut her hair, the Demi she called it, but hated it and immediately started wearing hats to cover her dark strands. It still wasn't long enough to put into a ponytail.

I didn't really want to talk about my brother. Actually, I didn't want to feel the way I would feel if we talked about my brother.

"The same. I've barely heard from him since he's been staying with my uncle. Who knows when he's coming back?" I sighed, gliding my fingers down Tina's neckline.

"Is he in school there yet?" she asked.

"No. They keep saying they're going to sign him up, but haven't." I tried not to think much about it, but my brain didn't work that way. Once I cracked the door open, the wood snapped off of the hinges and everything rushed in.

"It sounds like they don't plan on it," Tina said.

"Yeah. I figured as much. He won't talk to me about it and his scholarship to the community college expired last month."

Little pokes of stress rapped at my shoulders and down my spine. I hated that Austin couldn't bear to live with our dad any longer, but I was conflicted; he was my twin, twenty and headed nowhere. He shouldn't be living in the next state over with our thirty-year-old uncle who smelled like Cheetos and watched online porn all day, but I also didn't want him to live in my house with me. It was complicated. I still couldn't believe my dad let him leave in the first place. But I really couldn't blame my brother. Again, complicated.

"Honestly, Karina, you can't take on the full responsibility for this. It's not good for you and at the end of the day, your brother is the same age as you, five minutes younger if I remember?"

"Six." I smiled and moved my hands down to her shoulder blades.

I knew she was right, but that didn't make it any easier.

I moved my hands along her skin, using a compression stroke. "You have to decide what's best for you," she said. "You're starting a new chapter and you should have the most de-cluttered life possible."

Easier said than done.

"I'll ask my dad if he's heard anything from him."

Tina didn't say anything after that. She must have known that talking about the dinner with my "parents" would be too much for me that early in the day, so she just enjoyed the rest of her treatment while my thoughts boiled inside my brain. 

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