“We can’t keep running for our entire lives,” I told him, my face was still bleeding from the pistol that had almost fractured my brain.
“We have no other choice, would you rather spend your life in a freezing, cruel, cramped prison where they will treat you like a savage beast or run for freedom. No matter the cost?” He had gotten me there.
“Please tell me how we even got into all this mess?” Just a few days ago I wasn’t running for my safety, I had been a good citizen, someone people looked up to. Now. Well...I feel like a... criminal, someone people wouldn’t care about, someone who is wanted... to die for the sake of humanity.
“We stole,” he said it like it was ‘no big deal’ to him. Was he that remorseless? Was he not aware of the consequences we might have to face when we get caught? Did I just say, ‘when’? Am I really assuring myself I will be seized?
The outside world really was complicated, ‘a rat race’, my father called it.
“How are you so chill?” I was on the verge of breaking down, my legs felt like they were filled with mud as they weighed me down. The prickly sensation started to sweep up my legs and into my stomach. I felt lost all of a sudden. I’d lost hope that people would let me explain that I meant no harm. Sure, I stole but I never meant it. If only I had disagreed with his plan, I might have been at my home sweet home, sipping iced tea, watching some tedious news as Flora; my dog, licks my face in affection. I sighed, thinking how much I missed those old days… not so long ago.
“Relax Brie, we’re not getting caught, not on my watch.” He grinned as he lit his cigar and started to inhale deeply into the repellent cigar. I not only felt nauseous by the smell but also just glanced at him wasting his life, not afraid of what outcome we might get out of all this. I stayed a good 6-feet away from him and that vile smell just in case.
“That’s what I’m afraid of.” I muttered under my breath hoping he wouldn't read my lips.
He rolled his eyes at me as he offered me a cigar, I immediately denied his ‘kind offer’ as politely as I could, masking my agony within me.
He shrugged, taking back his pack and stuffing them deeply in his pockets.
“Are we doing the right thing?” I questioned him… and myself for that matter.
He dropped his cigar not bothering to throw it in the trash as he stared at me as if I were insane.
“Are you crazy?” He whisper-shouted, noticing people were walking with bags full of groceries giving us an agitated look, clutching their children's hands as if they were afraid we would kidnap them in front of their sight.
“No, you are.” I wasn’t afraid to speak up for once around Aaron. He shook his head as he grabbed my hand forcefully. I tried to yank it back but Aaron’s stronger than he seems.
“If you complain on me, you're complaining on yourself… if I’m in trouble, so are you,” He locked his eyes on mine. He wasn’t kidding, he was right… if he’s caught, so am I. We were in it together; to win and lose. No matter what.
Seeing my uncertainty he smiled smugly as he loosened his grip on my hand. I tugged my hand out of his reach easily and sat down on the pavement, thinking about how I’d ever manage to have my life back… If I tell someone, I’m basically getting myself caught, if I keep to myself… I don’t know what’ll happen to me.
“So you’ll just… lie about all this?” I cross-questioned his true intentions.
“Yes.” He almost would have shouted that in my face if there weren't people around, observing us with a suspicious mindset.
“What would you do in my place Brie?” He countered. I was stunned by his words, it felt like they pierced my heart and tore it to shreds.
“I-I’ll state the facts… the truth,” I finally admitted, my inner voice had been warning me about this for so long, I should have listened to it in the beginning.
“Well, then we are not capable of being partners in crime… are we?” His tone gave me the chills. I knew how capable Aaron was of winning a losing battle. I was an easy, weak and vulnerable opponent, I can’t take him on alone.
“Aaron,” I said his name out in a whisper, I could barely hear myself anymore. “Don’t,” I warned him beforehand.
“Oh Brie, don’t worry sister… you know I’ll never harm you, just join your older brother in all the fun. We’ll be rich!” He exclaimed, softly patting my shoulder as he smirked.
Aaron’s never called me his sister... ever. Unless he had some use of me, he’ll do anything to achieve what he wants… and I mean everything.
Aaron truly was my brother; but he’s not my blood-brother. He was my step-brother, if he were my real brother then he would have some of my good qualities which he lacked. His father; my step-dad was just the same... ditto. He always was such a selfish rouge, never cared about me or my mother. All he cared about was money and fame. His son will obviously have the same genes, guess that’s where he got his bad qualities from.
“I don’t care about money, I want to be a good person,” I removed his hand from my shoulder and straightened my hair, which was a mess. I felt something sticky as I yanked my hand off immediately to examine it.
Red stains appeared on my hand, what could it possibly be? ‘Oh, my blood’ I remembered yesterday's so-called ‘exploit’. I cringed, remembering the near death situation I had been in.
“You know I don’t want to do this, but you pushed me to.” He took out a gun from his pocket, I was shaken at the sigh of the deadly weapon he held.
“I-I,” I was inarticulate. I felt my body freeze in fear, agony… and betrayal.
He slowly edged over to pull the trigger of the gun, he waited as my horrified expression remained.
“If I go down, you're coming with me.” I grinded my teeth in frustration as I leaped at him before he realized what I was up to. He blindly pulled the trigger, the gun activated sending a bullet in the air.
I gasped, my body felt like it was in flames but I dove for the gun before Aaron took another shot. The blood stained my t-shirt and my heart began to pump faster and unevenly, I didn’t want to give him the upper hand by wasting time on my health right now, if he tried to kill his own sister, who knows how he’ll treat strangers; people who have kids or pets… families to care for them. If I had to sacrifice my life for their safety, I’ll do it. To protect the truth, self-sacrifices must be made… now.
I kicked him in the shin as much force I’d had, as expected he jumped yelping in agony, he held his leg up and tried to numb the pain.
I took advantage of his dilemma and grabbed the gun from his other hand, he didn’t bother to stop me. With shaking hands I pointed it at him unwillingly.
“Now, now, I know you won’t harm me,” He held his hands out in front of me; he’s surrendered to me… I almost felt pity for his state… notice I said almost.
The pain began to sweep further in my body, I began to feel faint and lightheaded all of a sudden. I had to decide soon… spare him or not? I knew I might not make it to see the next morning. What do I do?
“Lower the gun,” He murmured, he tried to step closer to me but I backed off, holding the gun steadily in my shaking, weak hands.
“Don’t, let me go,” He commanded, his overwrought eyes always on my own fearful eyes as I watched his every step; every movement.
“Why should I spare your life?” I doubted myself and him, demanding an answer instantly by either one of us.
He remained quiet as his eyes remained locked on mine, they haunted me. I felt panic, frustration, discomfort, everything except happiness and joy.
“What good are you to this world?” I asked him, my voice broke with tears of mixed emotions.
“I…” He started but I answered for him, knowing he’ll just lie; as always.
“Nothing, you’re making the world worse than it already is, people like you should… die,” I almost choked on the last word.
I gave him a cold stare, I saw that he was not going to run like a coward or tackle me like a hero. He remained neutral, I almost pictured him frozen like an ice sculpture.
I hesitated while I pulled the trigger. ‘Come on Bree, I can do this’ I thought to myself, encouraging my hopeless future.
“I- I’ll miss you B, I love you,” Those were his last words as I accidentally shot him much sooner than I expected.
“I’m sorry,” I whispered in his ear, I fell down on my knees. My heart was slowing down, my body felt numb but I felt every piercing pain that shot through my vines straight into my heart as I collapsed next to him. He held my hand fondly, never letting me go as we heard sirens approaching us but they were too late. We had already left this world, It was my choice to speak the truth and his choice to lie but we both ended up in the same place.
I would forgive him and I hoped the world forgives us for our misdeeds. He glanced over at me one last time, tears rolling down his cheeks, his shirt soaked with blood as he leaned forward and kissed me on the cheek. I smiled weakly.
He closed his eyes, drew his last breath as his breathing stopped all together, his face pale with no sight of life.
I silently cried as the doctors carried us but I knew he was gone. I waited for my last stages drawing near me, filling my mind with vile thoughts but death never approached me as I gasped for air, startled I noticed doctors working hard on saving my life, their hands stained with my blood, I noticed the bullet had been removed for me, it laid there on the counter.
Everything flooded back to me, the pain, the choice between truth or lying… I started to remember my parents, my dog, what happened to them?
“She’ll be fine,” I heard the doctors agreeing as I felt the immediate burden lifted off me, I was going to live. Like nothing ever happened to me.
* * * * * *
“Flora!” I ran towards my dog who licked me so much I thought I’d have to take a shower to get rid of the saliva.
I finally had come home after weeks of being isolated and in pain at the hospital. My family had come to see me, even my step-dad.
I laughed along with my family, remembering the past as we ate our pizza in celebration of my recovery.
My step-dad was voiceless the whole time, I felt bad for the loss of his only son as I placed my hand on his own, assuring him he still had a daughter. He smiled back.
I looked up at the night sky, my family had just left for the night. The stars glowed brighter than usual, I noticed.
I sat down on the armchair just gazing at the moon, wondering if Aaron was looking down at me.
We might not like each other very much and we might fight over petty things but still… he’s family and I do love him. Only if he had supported the truth, he could have sat down with me.
Truth always wins I guess...