December 8, 2007
“Rob…” was all Greg could say after my outburst. I’d yelled at him, which is something I do very rarely—I’m the younger brother; I don’t do the yelling.
I childishly turned my face away from him and towards the window so that he couldn’t see my expression. I was mad at him, but mad at myself too because I was about to start freaking crying, and I wasn’t even sad. I was mad. And yet, the tears were coming, and I couldn’t let Greg, who never cried, see me.
After a few minutes of doing a very poor job of trying to conceal my current predicament I cleared my throat and choked out, “Could you pull over?”
Greg, who had already been shooting me concerned glances, immediately turned off into the shoulder as if he’d just been waiting for me to ask. “You alright?” he asked gruffly.
I cleared my throat again, because it was getting worse. “Just give me a minute,” I said harsher than I ‘d meant to, and got out of the car. My tone had clearly implied that he was not to follow me, and I was grateful when he didn’t. I quickly made my way to the back of the car and slid to the ground, out of Greg’s view, and then I cried.
I knew I was being selfish and immature and that Greg was leaving to help people, but he was still leaving me. He could’ve said no, but instead he gives his two week’s notice at the small town doctor’s office where he works, and starts packing his bags for Africa. Africa. An entire ocean away. I mean, it wasn’t like I depended on my brother for everything—I still had a mom and a dad, after all—but…he was Greg. And Africa is dangerous, and I knew that. I knew about the genocides and the child soldiers and the AIDS epidemic. I knew that he could get killed. And…if he did…well, I’d never see him again, and that was unacceptable. We’d never go to another Mets game, or to another Stones concert. We’d never set each other up on blind dates, or play guitar together ever again. I’d be alone, and damn it, that couldn’t happen.
I heard the car door open and then slam shut. Slow, heavy footsteps on the hard asphalt. I heard him stop, but didn’t look up. I had a hand over my face and it wasn’t moving.
“Rob?’ Greg said as he slid down next to me. “Bobby…” he said apprehensively, using a pet name he hadn’t used in years, because he was afraid he’d made me cry. I knew he probably felt like a world-class jerk right now, but I made no movements to change that.
I’d pretty much gotten myself under control by now, and the embarrassment truly kicked in. Greg, my tough older brother who’d taken more punches for me than I could count, was seeing me like that.
“Bobby,” he said again, carefully measuring his words. “I—I’m sorry, you know, if I did something…I didn’t meant to make you …” cry
Pivoting my body as far away from him as I could without actually moving, I quickly wiped at my face. “Leave me along, Greg,” said in a steely voice.
I heard him sigh, but I didn’t move. I felt a tentative hand on my shoulder. “I mean it,” I spit out. “Leave me the hell alone.”
“Rob,” he said, but removed his hand.
“Go away!” I shouted. “God, Greg, just leave already! You’re going as it is, so get on with it. I can walk back for all I care. Just take the car and go!” I was screaming now. The tenseness from the car had turned into the crying, which had turned into the rage, which was now letting itself out.
His hand was back on my shoulder, and in a firmer grip that told me he wasn’t removing it anytime soon.
“Just leave,” I whispered angrily. “Leave. And you know what? You might as well just stay the hell gone. Don’t even bother to come back. We don’t want you here anyway. I don’t want you to come back,” I lied, biting back the bile that was threatening to come up.
This earned me a hard cuff to the back of the head. It was more reprimanding than threatening, but I raised a fist anyway, fully prepared to sock him one in the jaw, when he caught it in his hand.
“Shut up,” he said in a frighteningly low voice. “Shut up.”
I inhaled sharply, and my words came back to bite me. With resignation, I lowered my face into my hands once more, and was surprised to find more wetness on my cheeks. I hadn’t realized that I had been crying again.
Taking a deep breath, I slowly lifted my head. “I didn’t mean that,” I apologized.
I was shaking, and Greg rubbed his hand up and down my back a little. “Bobby, what’s going on? I thought you were okay with this…?”
“I’m sorry,” I said miserably. Now who was the world-class jerk?
“Kid…I’m not leaving forever, you know. This is just something I have to do.”
I nodded, head bowed. “I know.”
“Robert,” he said in a rich voice, “I…aw, kid, you just had to make this girly. But I, you know…”
I bit back a small smile. “I know. Me too.”
Greg squeezed my shoulder and let go to massage his temples. He leaned his head back against the bumper of the car.
“You’re going to miss your flight,” I said, checking my watch. “I mean, I think you just did.”
Greg glanced up at the road sign. “We’re like 10 miles away from the airport,” he said, shaking his head.
I grinned. “Well. Maybe there’s another flight?”
Greg met my eyes. “Yeah,” he said, after a pause, “there always is.”

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jdcallahan said...
Aug. 5, 2008 at 4:28 am
chickadee, this is really good, I'm shocked at the vulgarity though.. really 'damn' that's like 8 out of 10 on the naughty scale.... I'm telling mama..... :)
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