My mom was furious. Dad seemed rather angry too if not all the way to furious. Locking myself up in my room was not doing much help; the walls were incredibly thin and my folks were incredibly loud.
"Why wouldn't you say a thing to her?", Mom yelled at Dad; "Her marks are not good enough! Do you want her to turn out like her brother?"
"I already told her what needed to be told. She's not a child anymore. It's all up to her understanding now.", Dad sounded dangerously calm. "She must know what it takes to be a rising member of this family."
I felt the need for a cigarette. The window to my room was open; and the untimely wind felt strange against my face. I slipped out of my room through the window, in an attempt to disappear. The road was still wet owing to the rain this morning, and it seemed strangely wide without the signature crowd treading it. A part of me headed back to my room; afraid lest my folks should barge in. The other part of me knew better. They had their own hell to deal with anyway; checking on me would be far below in their to-do list. I dragged that part with me as I walked towards the woods; holding on to the incomplete 'me' which was not yet lost.
I had disappointed them, yet once again. Much like my brother did not long before finally dropping out of college. He was living somewhere in the city now, or so I had heard; renting a small apartment and living on petty jobs. I haven't seen him in a year or so, and pretty much took everything I heard with a grain of salt. My folks were the kind less reliable than a stranger you meet at night.
I did not enter much deep into the woods, but chose a place close by to lay down, where light and darkness were making love; and puffed up the smoke as it rose up into the air in distorted circles, no definite pattern. It seems unfair how something as carefree as that smoke, moving so free without following no norms, should exist. I tried my best to make it move in one definite straight line, but to no avail. It would coil around in circles, move like a snake; you know that zig-zag thing, and only sometimes moved straight. Disgusting.
"Tch", I curse as I laid awake beneath the trees; but was startled by a cough. I looked around for it's source, alarmed. Who'd be out in the woods at this time of the night unless they wanted to disappear? There were infinite reasons honestly; and my primitive animal instincts got triggered. Walking out in the dark might just be a very bad idea after all.
The 'source' coughed again, and then cleared it's throat. The moon peeped from behind the clouds and I could see him at the street, puffing away smoke, just like me.
Why was he here?
He should be at home. Celebrating.
After all, he did what I could not. He was the college topper, and I came in second.
He coughed again, and looked at me directly in the eye. The mating of the light and darkness had favored light; and I lay there exposed of my tiny little paradise of smoke.
"Not very good at hiding, are we?", He said. His voice was cracking, clearly new to smoking.
"Why are you here?", I asked him with disdain clear in my eyes.
He tried puffing up smoke like an expert but ended up coughing again.
"Dead yet?", I ask with a smirk, followed by a display of how real experts puff.
"Looks like I won't surpass you at this one.", He squashed the burning cigarette beneath his feet and walked in my direction. "Shouldn't you be home?", he asked, dropping himself beside me.
All I wanted was to disappear right? Why should I be lying beside the last person on earth I want to see? More importantly, why does not it feel bad at all?
"Probably. Yeah, I should.", I let out a sigh. A very childlike sigh. Not that I wanted to look cute; it just happened, even with all the smoke around.
"Want me to drop you off?"
"I could if you want me to."
"No. Just lay here. It feels nice, doesn't it?"
He looks up at the stars and their games with the clouds. "It does. Haven't felt this in a long time."
We both remain silent. Silence not awkward, but entirely essential.The wind had started to blow again and it was cold, but cigarettes always come handy.
"Your folks must be proud.", I break the silence.
He says nothing for some time; then replies, "I guess."
"They're more happy about you losing to me though.", he says, eyes fixed at the stars above.
I half smiled. "What about you?"
" Me? Let's see," he seemed to ponder. "I feel quite good about the marks. But I feel bad that my folks got what they wanted."
"What are you talking about?", I lifted my eye-brows.
"I haven't forgiven them yet."
"I don't feel good."
"What are you saying? I'd kill to be you."
"I don't want to forgive them either. But hurting them is not making me any happier."
"They are not hurt. They are... worried I guess. Not about you, though."
He was not wrong, I knew. And yet I wanted to please them. I hated disappointing people in general; and they were my parents to top it. Horrible parents, yet my parents.
But then the memories of that day still hurt.
"Tell me about your brother."
"You just had to remind me, didn't you?", I glare at him.
"Who else would?", he glared at me.
"Don't come in first.", my eyes narrowed.
"Study harder.", he smirked and leaned closer.
"Shut it, mom.", I smirk back and lean closer ahead.
"Don't call me that."
"Don't behave like one."
"You can call me Daddy though."
"Not happening. Mom."
"Right back at ya, Momm-"
I was cut short by a pair of lips. It's strange how he could kiss me so intently with all the effects caused by numerous cigarettes doing their job. All I could do is let him explore, after all.
The moon hid behind the clouds again and now that eternal mating of light and darkness favored the darkness. We were both drenched in the smell of the woods; yet it felt quite better than my lavishly clad room.
"Let's visit your brother some time."
I knew better. I would probably never see him again. He sneaked into the house several times to see me after Dad drove him out; the only thing which made me happy about my house. He was that typical elder brother who would not let anyone into his room, not to mention the nuisance that his little sister was. And yet he made me happy. He sucked at consoling, yet tried his best; and his efforts were more often than not, hilarious. Dad caught him sneaking around the house once, and called the cops. I cried to tears, but they took him away anyway. I haven't seen him since.
"Or maybe we could visit Paulie."
He made a pout. "His grave you mean."
I sighed. Not that childlike sigh anymore. A deep, depressing sigh. I remember how bright Paul used to smile, so much it lightened me up just thinking about it. He was always so full of life; Jake could find in him everything he could not be. He taught us a lot about the skies, urging us to fly. And we would probably have flown real high by now, only if one fine day he didn't disappear.
"We can't forgive them, Ciara."
I pondered. Probably I could not after all.
"They'll destroy one another. All of them. All we can do is watch anyway. They're beyond saving."
I let his words flow through my veins. Soon they'd land on the heart, making it heavy.
Light and darkness will mate for eternity, and that's where we find our solace. I recoil inside his chest. "Drop me off home, will ya?"
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