He got into my taxi. Hushed. Not a single sound came from his mouth. I turned to watch my brother, and I couldn’t help but notice a dullness in his eyes. He graduated from college a few weeks ago, but I couldn’t figure out why he looked so sad. He was supposed to screech and squeal about how he got his degree. Then he would go on for hours about the graduation, seeing his friends graduate, and all kinds of things like that. He is continuously excited about something. He always had something to tell me whenever he visited from college. It could be anything. Tedious or interesting, he hollered and showed it off like it was the most immeasurable thing in the world. Thinking about this, I smirked at him jokingly.
“Hey, are you even my brother?”
He started to laugh. That sweet laugh had something that seemed off about it. Like there was a little bit of citric acid hidden in it. Normally, he has a sugar-sweet laugh, with no bitterness in it.
“Of course I am, silly. Are you my sister?”
I patted my arms for emphasis and held my hands up. “I’m pretty real, buddy. I don’t know about you. Is something wrong?”
He shook his head and smiled. “Nothing’s wrong, Ellie.”
He said that in a harsh tone. Rock-hard. Who was this guy? He used to be all sweet and sticky candy. Now, he’s bitter. A bitter person. No one likes bitter people unless they are bitter themselves. “Who are you? What have you done to my beloved brother, Oliver?” I inquired in a demanding tone.
He laughed again. “Ellie, stop being weird. I am your beloved brother Oliver! See?” He gestured to himself as if that helped. He had a sky-blue, puffy jacket on with navy blue jeans. He also had an indigo hat. That seemed reasonable. The only thing that was rational about him was his appearance. It was like he had a completely different personality.
“Alright, but make sure you don’t start sobbing. You can do that at home. I don’t want a bunch of snot in my taxi.”
I grinned at my own joke and turned back towards the wheel. I switched the gear from “park” to “drive” and got on the highway to go home. Fortunately, our house was 15 minutes from the airport. I eternally desired to move into an immense house in the countryside, but my mom wants me to stay with her until I get married. These types of thoughts continually crowd my mind. I can’t get rid of my thoughts. They’re just there, drifting with billions of other thoughts. As I rode home, I realized that I was not even paying attention to the road, but we were still one minute away. I don’t know how I knew that. In no time, we were home. I got out of the car, assisted my brother in carrying his suitcases to our doorstep, and rang the doorbell. My mother opened the door.
“Ellie, where is your brother? Is he here yet?”
“Yes, but-” I started, then I turned my head to the side. There was no one there. I told my mom that I would be back, and I looked around the house. I discovered him in the back, observing the flowers. That was very unusual for him to do. He doesn’t like flowers.
“Oliver, what are you doing?”
He looked up, “Oh, hey, Ellie. I was just studying the flowers. Let’s go meet mom.”
We went back to the front door, and my mom promptly put on a huge smile and held her arms out in a huge hug for my brother.
“Sweetie, I yearned for you! How was graduation?”
“It was fun, I guess,” then, he went inside the house and bounded upstairs.
My mom took a look at me and put her hands on her hip, “That’s unusual. He always talks for hours about his experiences. I miss that already,” she pouted and went back inside the house. I ran in after her, spontaneously going upstairs to talk to Oliver. He seemed so off, and I was so worried about him. The world is wicked. What if it made him wicked?
I hiked up the stairs, floorboards creaking under my feet as I shifted my weight from step to step. I tried my hardest to make the tiniest amount of noise I could, but the stairs despise me. I finally arrived at the top of the spiraling staircase. Now that I reflect upon it, I am more prosperous than a lot of people in this community. I shook my head. I was having racing thoughts. I leaned against the wall, rubbing my arm. I opened the door to Oliver’s room.
He was relaxing on one side of his bed, leaning on the headboard, lost in his own world.
“Hey, Oliver. Can we please talk?,” I asked and sat on his bed across from him, “ I need to know what happened at graduation that made you so sad on the trip and right now. You didn’t even talk to mom that much. That’s not normal of you.”
He rolled his eyes at me. “Ellie, I’m completely fine. I don’t know what you're thinking. Why are you getting so worked up?”
I sighed and got up from the bed, “Dad’s going to be home in,” I paused to look at my watch, “about an hour, so you better get ready for interrogation from him about what happened.”
I left the room, then realized I had to help him unpack.
I went back inside the room. Suddenly, Oliver had a red shirt and white pants.
“I’m a fast changer,” Oliver beamed and flexed his non-existent muscles in my face.
“Alright, alright! You’re a superhuman, dude.”
His eyes lit up. He didn’t have any dullness. Just glitter. There was only glitter in his eyes. Oliver was back. “You think so?”
I smirked and tousled his hair, “Yeah. You know, it’s weird of a 22-year-old to act like that. You’re such a man-baby.”
He pouted and indicated that there was unpacking to do with a quick hand motion, so I helped him unpack his stuff. There were a lot of pants and shirts, and some of them had doubles. I held up two of the same shirts.
“Why do you need doubles?”
“I don’t know, just in case,” he shrugged.
I attempted to study his eyes, but he looked away from me. Looking at someone’s eyes shows their real emotion. They can’t hide the emotion in their eyes. They can hide it all they want in their face and voice, but their eyes give it away. That’s what I use to find out one’s true feelings towards something.
After we finished unpacking and putting all of his clothes away, we went into the yard to water the flowers. It was nice, doing yard work with my brother after him coming back from college. We talked a little bit and tended to the flowers. After a few minutes, we heard the old car horn that indicated our dad came home.
“Race you!” Oliver said and hurried to the front yard.
“Not if I can beat you!” I followed, making sure he won.
He was in our dad’s arms as I arrived on the front lawn.
“Son, I missed you! How was the graduation?”
“It was astonishing! My friend, Elijah, and I were sitting together…” he started to talk all about his graduation, getting his degree, and seeing his friends get degrees late into dinner.
After we all finished our dinner, he yawned and went upstairs to go to sleep. I needed to know why he told dad everything, but he didn’t open up to me. Was he mad? I chose to go upstairs after him.
Right as I turned the doorknob, I heard a stifled outcry.
I shoved the door as hard as I could, heartbeat speeding up. There, I viewed my brother on the floor next to a pool of red. I kneeled next to him, sinking to the floor. I clutched his arms, tears flowing from my eyes.
“Oliver, buddy, please. Wake up.” I wailed into his arms.
“He…he made me pretend…to…” he closed his eyes.
‘Who’s he? What did he make you pretend to do?” I asked softly.
Then, I detected bittersweet laughter.
Another Oliver showed up, bearing flowers from our garden. This wasn’t Oliver. He had a sinister smile on his face. Blood was smeared all over his face as well. I looked at his eyes. It was those same dull eyes I saw in the car. He wrote on the wall a symbol that looked like a cross. He laid the flowers on Oliver. My Oliver.
I checked Oliver’s pulse.
I checked to see if he was breathing.
The fake Oliver snickered, “There’s no saving him. You’re my next sacrifice.”
He grinned, showing off his spiked teeth. He lunged forward and bit into my arm. I felt a stinging pain and started to screech. He fled from the room, out the window.
My mom bellowed from the kitchen, “Ellie? What are you doing? Are you okay?”
As the pain spread, yellow splotches started to fill my sight. Soon, I started to lose my vision and the feel in my arm. My body went numb. I had trouble breathing.
I heard footsteps on the stairs. She unlocked the door.
I couldn't take a breath.