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    Sasha Distan
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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental.
Note: While authors are asked to place warnings on their stories for some moderated content, everyone has different thresholds, and it is your responsibility as a reader to avoid stories or stop reading if something bothers you. 

Direct Confusion - 23. Chapter 23

Each morning when I wake, it is a fresh shock. Like being smacked in the face upon returning to consciousness, because there are a few blissful seconds before I remember. I think of Erin, of his lips or the sound of his heartbeat, or I miss being with him in the early mornings. And then like a sledgehammer to the skull I remember the scent of blood and hospitals, the grittiness under my skin I can’t seem to shift.

My brother is dead. My brother, Greg McBride who joined the army and lived to tell the tale, my brother whom everyone loved, he is dead.

I spend the rest of the Thanksgiving break in my room mostly. Derrick and Jim come round on Friday, and I know that Erin has taken it upon himself to break the news to other people. I can’t stand the idea of going near my phone. Derrick hugs me tight and hard and I don’t want to ever let him go. They fill my silence with little snippets of their holiday activities and Jim complains how dull going shopping with his mother is, how pleased he is to have avoided the Black Friday madness. Derrick stays longer and allows me to cry on his shoulder, my face buried in his team jersey. I rant and yell, life is unfair and broken and Greg shouldn’t have died; and Derrick simply nods and murmurs reassurances. Jameson texts with kisses and a long rambling joke about three cheerleaders and a football player walking into a bar.

Erin comes round Saturday and stays over. I fall asleep in his arms and wake in the middle of the night, shaking and scared. Erin calms me down, soothing noises and warm hands on my back until we are suddenly both unaccountably aroused. He fucks me slowly, without speaking, and my height of ecstasy is so high and sharp it is almost painful. He tells me he loves me, and I hold onto the words as I lose consciousness.

By the time Sunday afternoon comes around, I feel sick with the idea of going back to school. Erin tells me being busy staves off worry, and we go for a run. Jameson joins us half way round, and I keep myself focused on moving. By the time we get back, both the Parker twins are sweating and exhausted, but I feel like I could run another thousand miles if it would rewind time and take me back to the moment when I hugged my brother goodbye. I cannot remember what his hair smelt like.

That night I get into an awful argument with my mother.

Since Thanksgiving people have been bringing us meals made from their leftovers, or foods that no one ate because they were too full. Erin brings us a meatloaf with turkey, sausage and pockets of stuffing, and a plate of chewy oat and honey cookies. For a while I wonder why in times of trouble, people’s first instincts are to feed each other, but after biting into a slab of Erin’s meat loaf I no longer care. I hate meatloaf, but now I realise I only hate it because I’ve been eating bad meatloaf.

“This is amazing.”

“Thanks babe.” Erin kisses my cheekbone then returns to his dinner. I know he is trying to be as normal as possible, and I am deeply grateful for his efforts. I don’t think either of my parents has really spoken to me since the hospital.

“You want to drive to school tomorrow? Do we have to pick up Jame?”

“He texted and said Derrick was picking him up. You don’t wanna drive?”

I think of the Dodge, my brother’s old car which I inherited by default, sitting in the driveway. It doesn’t matter that it’s been mine day in and day out for two years, or that I’ve loved it long before I could actually drive; it’ll always be my brother’s car. I shake my head.

“Luke, it’s a school night.”

I stare at my mother blankly.

“We love having Erin over, but rules are rules. He can’t stay over on a school night.”

“Mom!” I am surprised by the anger in my voice. The idea of sleeping alone makes me scared. I don’t want to be left by myself with my thoughts.

“Sorry Erin, sweetie. Do you have your car?”

“Yes.” Erin glances at me and his hand finds mine under the table. “Sorry Luke.”

“No!” I snarl at my mother. “He’s my boyfriend and I’m going to have him stay over whenever I want. Blow ‘it’s a school night’. I’m eighteen.”

“Luke! Mind your tone young man.”

I snort derisively.

“I’m old enough to make my own decisions about my boyfriend. I want to spend time with him and there is nothing you can do about it.”

“And if you’d been more thoughtful about spending time with your brother, he might still be alive!” My mother snaps. There is half a second of silence as her words sink in to us all. “Luke, no…” Her hands cover her mouth, and she can barely believe that she’s said it. I push my chair back, knocking it noisily to the floor, and run from the room.

Erin finds me curled up on the floor with my spine pressed against the sofa. As he enters, I press the button on my oft-ignored answerphone and we listen together to the message my brother left while I was out at Thanksgiving dinner.

“It feels weird to leave you a message on this thing when you’re just across town. And no one is shouting in the background, and I haven’t got two minutes until the line’ll go dead.” There is a break, the noise of him moving around the room, the soft creak of the sofa as he sits down. “I like your new look little brother. Though you’re not so little anymore, eh? I’ll bet you fit in my uniform just fine.” Another long pause and I can hear him moving around the room, the soft clink as he touches things. There is the unmistakable scrape of him hefting a trophy from the shelf by the window, and his voice sounds further away. “Your boyfriend was unexpected. I thought you were kidding, but he looks like he could throw a decent hit. Looks at you like you’re the centre of the universe, though I don’t expect you’d noticed. You never do. I can’t believe you’re all grown up: you’ll be at college any minute.” Greg sighs, apparently making the most of his free phone time. “I held you the day you were born, and you were a little pink squishy thing that cried and hated me. Man, I feel old. Shit, maybe I should get married and have kids or somethin’.” He chuckles softly. “I think we should definitely go to the park tomorrow and play ball. You can tell me all about your boyfriend. Maybe bring him along, he can play soccer right?” One last pause. “Mom’s putting dinner out. I’d best go eat enough for both of us, right? I love you, Luke. ‘Night little brother.”

The silence as the message ends is deafening, and I press both hands over my face, cheeks wet with fast flowing tears. My brother loved me, and all that remains now is his voice on my answering machine. Erin settles on the floor with me and I almost instantly try and crawl into his lap. He makes a cage from his body and wraps his arms around me, his legs on either side of mine as I cry into his shirt. The thud of his pulse so close makes me wish I could simply blot out everything that has happened over the last four days. I wish Greg had never come home.

“I wish I’d gotten to know him.” Erin’s voice is feather soft. “He sounds like such a great guy. He loved you Luke. That means a lot.”

“I know.” I sniff.

“Don’t be mad with your mom, OK babe? She’s just trying to keep you all together.” He kisses my forehead. “I’ll be at school and training.”

“I don’t want you to go.” I nuzzle against his chest. I know I sound pathetic.

“Hey, I won’t be far. You want me to call you?”

I sniff, and pull myself together.

“It’s OK. Just text me when you get back?” I kiss him. “Love you Erie.”

“I love you too.”

Ten minutes later I wave him goodbye from my driveway, say a cursory but polite goodnight to my parents, and retire to my room. Lying ninety percent naked on my bed, I press the play button again and listen to my brother’s voice.

“…I love you Luke. ‘Night little brother.”

Knowing my mother blames me for his death, even partially, and even unintentionally, makes me wish, even harder, that there was some way of bringing him back. My mind reels forwards to a dozen Thanksgiving dinners which will happen without him, and where all my parents and I will be able to think of, is that instead of celebrating, we are mourning the death of my brother. And every year, even if she doesn’t want to, my mother will look at me sitting across the table, and she will blame me for the loss of her son.

Around midnight my phone bleeps at me and I pull up the text that Erin has sent. It is a photo taken in his bathroom mirror, of my boyfriend in my red and white speedos. He is sporting a bulge which looks to be about a semi, and is giving me the thumbs up as a white notecard sticking out of the wide waistband of the special first-date speedos asks: Remember this? I can’t help but smile.

There are good things in my life, and as I fall asleep, I imagine kicking a soccer ball around with Greg in the park and telling him all about my first ever real date. He’d be so impressed that I broke into school and a bit confused by the thing with the speedos and generally grossed out that his little brother is having sex already. It’s a strange little dream, but it’s funny, and it’s good.

*

The next few days move in a slow un-focused blur with moments of sharp clarity. On Monday it is very obvious that people have been told, and I am given a wide berth by students who do not know me. From those who are friends and teammates, there are pats on the back and unexpected hugs. A lot of them have siblings who knew Greg, so they knew him a bit too, and are sad to know he is gone. My teachers nods softly, and smile, and try to understand, but I don’t blame them for not being able to. Obviously an email has gone out to the staff, because although I sit in all my lessons and listen to the discussions going on around me, I don’t do any actual work, and no one seems to mind.

While my teammates prop me up emotionally, Derrick and Erin support me physically. I don’t know how they manage to get out of their own classes, but when the bell rings one or both of them is outside the door, ready to walk me to my next class. It’s nice, but I feel burdensome. The idea of walking alone from one end of the school to the other though, makes me nervous. I do not want to be approached by someone and get stuck in a conversation about my brother. Avoiding talking about Greg is one of the few things keeping me going.

I doze during study hall, watching Jameson drift in and out of focus, mesmerised by the soft scratchy noise his pencil makes against the page as he works on choreography.

Training is the easiest part of my day, because all I have to do is follow the drill: warm up, run, push-up’s, sit-up’s, footwork, run again, cool down. I find myself smiling as we walk into the changing rooms, because I posted one of my best ever half-mile run times, and then I remember what happened to Greg, and I feel guilty as hell for enjoying myself. Erin comes to get me from my pre-swim shower, because I have stayed under the water to hide the fact that I am crying. He lures me out with his hands on my hips and I kiss him soundly before picking the fastest lane in the pool and tearing up and down as hard as I can. Being busy does indeed stave off worry, and by the time I’m done, all I can think about is the way Erin’s speedos show off his fine ass and long strong legs.

My brother is dead. And it hurts, it’s awful, and he didn’t deserve to die, but as I watch Erin standing under the showers and smiling at me, I realise that making myself miserable isn’t going to bring him back.

Remember to come and join us in the discussion forum for questions, answers, and all sorts of silly supposition.
Copyright © 2014 Sasha Distan; All Rights Reserved.
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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental.
Note: While authors are asked to place warnings on their stories for some moderated content, everyone has different thresholds, and it is your responsibility as a reader to avoid stories or stop reading if something bothers you. 
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Wet eyes again...a beautiful chapter about pain and guilt and grief and love and support (I love Erin). I love the way you wrote this chapter and I felt some optimism at the very end. It could have been brutal but you didn't go there...thanks for that...cheers...Gary

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On 07/24/2014 07:33 AM, Headstall said:
Wet eyes again...a beautiful chapter about pain and guilt and grief and love and support (I love Erin). I love the way you wrote this chapter and I felt some optimism at the very end. It could have been brutal but you didn't go there...thanks for that...cheers...Gary
thank you Gary. Sometimes we get the right people around us for support, sometimes we don't.
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For some reason, the way you wrote Greg as a character left me emotional each time we return to his tragic end. It is strange b/c we don't even know him that well. It was heartbreaking to picture luke listening to that message over and over, trying to hold onto his brother...to hold onto the sound of his voice and his scent. to want to give anything to go back a few hours and not let this hell be real. I think the emotion is largely sadness for Luke. Losing a sibling like that is horrid.

But, back to the story...I can't believe his mother. how horrible is she, to try to put her other son's death on Luke! Like he didn't think of that on his own most likely? To put that guilt on him is a crippling blow to him. What a horrible mom.

I'm glad he has Erie and Derrick and Jameson. he will need it.

Hope this make someone think sadly it happens all too often. Don't Drink and/or Drive while Intoxicated everybody! It is always 'oh, it won't happen to me.' And yet so many die or are irreparably damaged every day this way.

Lookin forward to more.

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I'm sure there will be lots of shared wet eyes among your readers.

 

At first this seemed like too short of a chapter to follow-up on the events in chapter twenty-two, and yet you've managed to capture exactly the right tone, and words. It expresses Luke's grief and the immediate aftermath of Greg's death well. Sorta-kinda perfect, really.

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Yep, tears streaming down my cheeks. Excellent portrayal of Luke's sadness and his mother's pathos. Her reaction is irrational but grief isn't entirely rational. Erin, Jame, and Luke's friends are all being wonderful. Quite a maturing experience as well. *wiping eyes*

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Beautiful and sad chapter and you made me cry :,( Luke´s mum did two things wrong. Sent Erin home, when Luke would have needed him to stay with him and comfort him, and then blamed Luke for Greg´s death. I know she regretted it as soon as she said it, but to even think of it. Luke has some amazing and caring friends.

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On 07/24/2014 09:06 AM, Cannd said:
For some reason, the way you wrote Greg as a character left me emotional each time we return to his tragic end. It is strange b/c we don't even know him that well. It was heartbreaking to picture luke listening to that message over and over, trying to hold onto his brother...to hold onto the sound of his voice and his scent. to want to give anything to go back a few hours and not let this hell be real. I think the emotion is largely sadness for Luke. Losing a sibling like that is horrid.

But, back to the story...I can't believe his mother. how horrible is she, to try to put her other son's death on Luke! Like he didn't think of that on his own most likely? To put that guilt on him is a crippling blow to him. What a horrible mom.

I'm glad he has Erie and Derrick and Jameson. he will need it.

Hope this make someone think sadly it happens all too often. Don't Drink and/or Drive while Intoxicated everybody! It is always 'oh, it won't happen to me.' And yet so many die or are irreparably damaged every day this way.

Lookin forward to more.

I don't think that Luke's mom really means what she says, or meant to say it, it's just one of those things that slips out in the two seconds before your brain stops to think about the impact of what you're about to say.

Thanks for the nice review.

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On 07/24/2014 09:14 AM, Ron said:
I'm sure there will be lots of shared wet eyes among your readers.

 

At first this seemed like too short of a chapter to follow-up on the events in chapter twenty-two, and yet you've managed to capture exactly the right tone, and words. It expresses Luke's grief and the immediate aftermath of Greg's death well. Sorta-kinda perfect, really.

thank you Ron, such high praise.

Even I cried when I re-read this chapter.

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On 07/24/2014 09:38 AM, Cole Matthews said:
Yep, tears streaming down my cheeks. Excellent portrayal of Luke's sadness and his mother's pathos. Her reaction is irrational but grief isn't entirely rational. Erin, Jame, and Luke's friends are all being wonderful. Quite a maturing experience as well. *wiping eyes*
thank you Cole. I agree about the maturing experience. There's nothing like the death of someone you love to make you grow up
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On 07/24/2014 02:19 PM, Suvitar said:
Beautiful and sad chapter and you made me cry :,( Luke´s mum did two things wrong. Sent Erin home, when Luke would have needed him to stay with him and comfort him, and then blamed Luke for Greg´s death. I know she regretted it as soon as she said it, but to even think of it. Luke has some amazing and caring friends.
sorry. thank you, but sorry.

Luke does have some great friends, he's a lucky boy. He might not feel so lucky right now, but he is.

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Tears and tears and tears again... I ache with Luke and remember my own sister's death 10 years ago. She was the younger but it makes no difference if the sibling you loose is older or younger when they're gone and you are the lonely child left ... it hurts

Luke's mom is not horrible or terrible or anything bad. She is a mother who lost a child in an unexpected and horrid way... she is suffering an even more excruciating pain then someone who has not lost a child can imagine. I weep for her. Especially when she unintentionally lashes out at the child that remains, it is irrational and unthinking and born of despair ... the last thing she would knowingly do is injure the child that remains.

Sasha, while I absolutely hate this phase of the story I appreciate and recognize that you have done the expected by presenting us with a very real and well executed tale. The pain, grief and guilt are right and true. If you were not the consummate author you are we would not feel the loss and pain so deeply.

Luke is blessed that those who love him are there for him. Thank you for gifting him with the understanding that life will go on.

This is one of the most poignant chapters I have yet to read.

Deepest regards.

Dughlas

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On 07/25/2014 04:20 AM, dughlas said:
Tears and tears and tears again... I ache with Luke and remember my own sister's death 10 years ago. She was the younger but it makes no difference if the sibling you loose is older or younger when they're gone and you are the lonely child left ... it hurts

Luke's mom is not horrible or terrible or anything bad. She is a mother who lost a child in an unexpected and horrid way... she is suffering an even more excruciating pain then someone who has not lost a child can imagine. I weep for her. Especially when she unintentionally lashes out at the child that remains, it is irrational and unthinking and born of despair ... the last thing she would knowingly do is injure the child that remains.

Sasha, while I absolutely hate this phase of the story I appreciate and recognize that you have done the expected by presenting us with a very real and well executed tale. The pain, grief and guilt are right and true. If you were not the consummate author you are we would not feel the loss and pain so deeply.

Luke is blessed that those who love him are there for him. Thank you for gifting him with the understanding that life will go on.

This is one of the most poignant chapters I have yet to read.

Deepest regards.

Dughlas

thank you. I am sorry, but I thank you, and I agree with everything you said about Luke's mom.

I do grief and heartbreak too damn well.

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I purposely waited till I was home and could bawl in peace. Which I did, btdubs. Probably more than I did in the last chapter. One of the scenes that really touched me was when Luke listened to Greg's message on his answering machine. It makes me cry now just thinking about it again.

 

Of course Luke's mom didn't mean what she said to come out like that. And as one of your reviewers said, Luke is already blaming himself for Greg's death. To agree w/Dughlas, there is nothing worse than a parent losing their child. She is mourning a different kind of grief than her son is (does that even make sense?), and she just lashed out w/o thinking.

 

I know people grieve in their own ways, but maybe Luke shouldn't have hidden away in his room for the rest of the weekend. I'm thankful he has terrific friends (and a wonderful b/f who COOKS FOOD TO BRING OVER!), but maybe Luke and his parents needed time to grieve together, as a family.

 

Which brings me to another question: what about the funeral? They didn't have it already, did they?

 

Well Sasha, is there any writing you CAN'T do? lol You know just how to express your characters' sadness and get your readers so emotionally involved with their lives. I just want to hug Luke and his parents. What a horrible, horrible loss they have had.

 

Oh, I just wanted to point out two little errors: sit-ups and push-ups don't have the apostrophe s at the end. The apostrophe s is to signify possession or a contraction, neither which apply to these words. =)

 

Excellent chapter, Sasha. I'm looking forward to the next one, as usual.

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On 07/29/2014 09:22 AM, Lisa said:
I purposely waited till I was home and could bawl in peace. Which I did, btdubs. Probably more than I did in the last chapter. One of the scenes that really touched me was when Luke listened to Greg's message on his answering machine. It makes me cry now just thinking about it again.

 

Of course Luke's mom didn't mean what she said to come out like that. And as one of your reviewers said, Luke is already blaming himself for Greg's death. To agree w/Dughlas, there is nothing worse than a parent losing their child. She is mourning a different kind of grief than her son is (does that even make sense?), and she just lashed out w/o thinking.

 

I know people grieve in their own ways, but maybe Luke shouldn't have hidden away in his room for the rest of the weekend. I'm thankful he has terrific friends (and a wonderful b/f who COOKS FOOD TO BRING OVER!), but maybe Luke and his parents needed time to grieve together, as a family.

 

Which brings me to another question: what about the funeral? They didn't have it already, did they?

 

Well Sasha, is there any writing you CAN'T do? lol You know just how to express your characters' sadness and get your readers so emotionally involved with their lives. I just want to hug Luke and his parents. What a horrible, horrible loss they have had.

 

Oh, I just wanted to point out two little errors: sit-ups and push-ups don't have the apostrophe s at the end. The apostrophe s is to signify possession or a contraction, neither which apply to these words. =)

 

Excellent chapter, Sasha. I'm looking forward to the next one, as usual.

I do not have a good relationship with apostrophes. Thanks for that, I never knew.

I actually skipped the funeral, and didn't realise until a few chapters later. It just didn't seem as important as all the other stuff. Funerals can give closer, but not for Luke.

Lisa, you, like many of my readers, are just too damn nice. There are plenty of things I can't do. mostly they involve plants - and keeping them alive more than a day.

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You know, I sat and thought as I read, and re-read this chapter, that I can't imagine what that must have been like for the creator of these characters to write.

It is hard to read, let alone what it must have taken to write. I admire your ability to pull your reader into this world you've created with such commitment and whole hearted involvement. Each are invested in the story, desperately wanting only the best for the characters, content on seeing them happy, and up in arms when anyone dares to attack or hurt them.

If that is how much we are invested in the story, what was it like for you?

I can only find respect and admiration for the way you've created this tale Sasha. Aside from any comment I might leave to the effect of the chapter, and the feelings it created, I felt it was more important to pause for a moment and consider what effort it must have taken to create this, and give it due consideration and recognition.

Thank you. This has and continues to be an amazing story.

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On 08/30/2014 10:07 PM, Yettie One said:
You know, I sat and thought as I read, and re-read this chapter, that I can't imagine what that must have been like for the creator of these characters to write.

It is hard to read, let alone what it must have taken to write. I admire your ability to pull your reader into this world you've created with such commitment and whole hearted involvement. Each are invested in the story, desperately wanting only the best for the characters, content on seeing them happy, and up in arms when anyone dares to attack or hurt them.

If that is how much we are invested in the story, what was it like for you?

I can only find respect and admiration for the way you've created this tale Sasha. Aside from any comment I might leave to the effect of the chapter, and the feelings it created, I felt it was more important to pause for a moment and consider what effort it must have taken to create this, and give it due consideration and recognition.

Thank you. This has and continues to be an amazing story.

You are welcome, and thank you for your high praise.

It was not easy. It was one of the fastest chapters to write, but it was not easy. Everyone has their own losses, eh?

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