I held in my cough as I entered the bathroom, senses already on high alert. Smoke unfurled around, blinding me for a moment. It took a second to gauge my surroundings, but once I had, it came as no surprise to see my older brother standing in their group. The only boy in here. After all, this was a ladies' bathroom.
I watched in the mirror as the cigarette got passed around. A girl with pouting lips caked in maroon lipstick passed it to my brother. His lazy smile at her and the smoke around were in competition to make me nauseous.
A familiar bubble of bile arose in my throat as he puffed out carbon monoxide. I clenched my nostril muscles, focusing on fixing my hair in the bathroom mirror. Luckily for me, I hadn’t been spotted yet.
They all started laughing as he did some kind of trick with the smoke. My eyes were so narrowed now, I could hardly see out of them.
Once my hair was done, I walked over to the door, palm raised to open it, when a girl’s voice said, “It’s coming tomorrow?”
My brother’s voice answered. “The LSD?—”
“SHUT UP,” the girl barked, leaving the bathroom deathly silent.
I felt his eyes on my back before I saw them. Next thing I knew, I was slammed into the bathroom wall, inches from a familiar face. His lip curled. “Hello, sister.”
“Your sister?” the girl asked. “She better not be a snitch.”
My brother didn’t answer.
I took refuge in the fact that I knew secrets of his that he’d rather die than let his friends know, or that I knew he still had nightmares about dad, or that he used his blanket as a tissue for his snotty nose.
His breath steamed on the mirror next to my head as he leaned in harder, earning a yelp from me as I felt his shirt button press in. “Don’t let me find you in here again.”
I arched an eyebrow in response, trying to mask the turmoil inside.
LSD? No way.
“Oh, brother, should I tell them?”
He read all his secrets on my face. “Go to hell,” he snarled.
I held out my hand in answer.
He looked ready to spit on me as he pulled out a fiver from his pocket. I shook my head with a smile. He took out another.
I took the money from him, squirmed out from the bathroom and contemplated calling Mum.
I knew Caleb drug dealt, but this? Everyone knew it never stopped at cigarettes; it had only been a matter of time.
That night I gave the money to Mum with a too-bright smile.
“You know, honey, I don’t need a commission from the money you earn.”
“The job pays well, Mum,” I said with a shrug, the lie spilling from my mouth like silk.
She gave me a side hug, then carried on with her work.
I lingered for a moment, at odds on whether I should tell her. But when I saw her eyebrows sink into a furrow, her lips into a frown, I decided that she had enough on her plate.
When the front door slammed, indicating my brother was home from God knows where, neither my mum nor I left our rooms to greet him. The ritual had been long gone since Dad had left. Well, dad’s hello was more actions than words to Caleb. I can’t deny that I hadn’t felt the want to stop him all the time.
Hearing his footsteps outside my door, a feeling of hate so red clouded my mind that I found it hard to breathe. Mum was at the epicenter of it all-- her money had all been stolen by him for the drugs he was addicted to-- then played off as a fraud.
I was simply recycling the money back to the owner.
It was tough falling asleep that night, knowing I couldn’t stop what was going to happen tomorrow, but even if I could, I wouldn’t. I wanted him to hit rock bottom. That was the only hope for change for him. And maybe that made me a sucky person- hell, the worst person- but it’s what he deserved in my eyes. The pain I saw flit on my mother’s eyes when he’d come home drunk a few weeks ago was enough to make my fiery personality want to put a bullet through his heart.
I avoided that bathroom at all costs on Tuesday. There was no way I’d be near-choked again. I’d had to cover the bruises from yesterday up with a woolen scarf-- in summer. I looked like a right idiot.
School went smoothly--well, as smoothly as a high school day in America can possibly go, and then I was home.
I put my phone on DND, the thoughts running through my mind demanding instant attention. Being home alone was one of my favorite things. Just my mind and I.
I sat on my windowsill, watching the city below me. There was something so serene in feeling the wind play on your face, to be isolated, but to also see hundreds of people below you hustling around. I wonder if this is how God feels?
I don’t know how long I sat there for, but when I next opened my eyes, the sky was pitch-black and the city was now bustling with party-goers dressed in sparkling dresses with equally shiny champagne glasses in hand.
I quickly climbed inside, wondering why my mum hadn’t called for me yet.
But then I heard a noise from her room. I hadn’t realised how tight my chest had gotten, but it loosened as I felt her presence in the house.
Caleb wasn’t home yet.
“Mum?” I asked, tentatively pushing her door open with a toe.
I got a shock when I saw her bloodshot eyes turn up to look at me, tears streaming down and mixing with her mascara. I rushed to her side. “Mum? What’s wrong?” I asked, a little forcefully, the panic already rising.
Her eyes held mine as she whispered the words I thought I’d never hear.
“Caleb is dead.”
The phone finally rang.
It had been five days. The investigators said they’d call once they found out what had happened. LSD doesn’t kill, I murmur to myself, over and over. But it doesn’t change the fact of what happened.
“Hullo?” I answered, words tasting weird on my mouth after not talking for nearly a week.
“Is your mother there?”
I passed the phone to my already-crying mum, leaning in to listen over her shoulder. I only got bits and pieces.
Five minutes later, my mother put down the phone, hand still trembling.
“It wasn’t LSD. He didn’t take LSD.”
“So he took something else?”
She shook her head, her throat bobbing as she swallowed a sob.
“The supplier sold them a synthetic drug as LSD.”
I had one goal. One.
To put that supplier behind bars for the rest of his life.
Maybe that would take away the guilt that I practically killed my own brother.
You must sign up or log in to submit a comment.
Nicely written...I totally enjoyed it right from the first line. Great work!
Thank you so much for reading!
So sad! I wish the narrator could've stopped Caleb. But, your story was really good! I got through it quickly. Maybe because you use short paragraphs. Great job!
Thank you so much for the feedback!
you're welcome. Can you read mine?
Of course :)
I quite enjoyed this - it was dark and very well done. Good luck :)
Thank you so much!
This was really sad, but also really well written. I liked how the ending was inconclusive, showing the change and growth in the character, but leaving us to guess what she does next. Good luck with your next works!
Thank you so much for the feedback! I usually like to leave the end loose, so I'm glad you enjoyed that too :)
No problem, it was my pleasure to read this :)
Great job. I love the story and the way that it is written. Well done :)) Could you please read my latest story if possible :))