52 Sundays A Year

August 23, 2008
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I sigh. I have finally finished counting. It’s been 2,190 days, 312 Sundays, approximately 52,560 hours or 3,153,600 minutes and I am willing myself not to cry, not again. I sit on my bed and stare stony-faced at the wall. There is a slight knock at the door but I ignore it. I know who it is. I know that she will come in anyway and she does.

“You’re not in here crying, again, are you?” she said “Lily, I find you in here every other Sunday, crying your eyes out and when you’re not crying you’re just sitting there. You never leave the house on Sundays, let alone do anything fun.”

She keeps speaking but I tune out the rest of her tirade. It’s always the same, anyway, but I know that unless I cut her off she’ll keep speaking forever.

“Laura, I just don’t like Sundays. It isn’t my day, good things never seem to happen to me on Sundays,” I said stoutly.

“But it’s your birthday, everyone loves to celebrate their birthday. You can’t not leave the house on your birthday!” She replied.

“Don’t you ever, ever mention my birthday to me again,” I said angrily, while standing up, “it is none of your damn business what I do or don’t do on my birthday. That’s why it’s my birthday, not yours.” I sit back down again and I am silently fuming. I know I had no right to blow up at Laura like that. After all, it is my fault she doesn’t know, but I don’t plan to tell her, not now, not ever. I expect her to mutter something about ungrateful friends and leave or continue with her fruitless attempts to convince me to leave the house on a Sunday. What I don’t expect is for her to sit down next to me and say what she says.

“Lily, I wish you would tell me what’s wrong. I’m your friend and I care. I know that if you give it time and you let me help you everything will be okay again,” she said softly.
All of a sudden I was angry again. Who did she think she was, telling me she could make everything better? I got up and shouted, “Alright Laura, you want me to tell you what’s wrong? I will. It’s Sunday, August 26, 2007. It’s been six years. Six long years. It’s been six years since my father has looked me in the eyes. It’s been six years since my mother has cracked a smile.”

Much softer now, I continue, “six years since I have heard him laugh, six years since I have seen him smile. It has been six years since I killed my mother’s only son.” She stands there shocked and then she crosses over to where I am sitting and hugs me. As she does, I suddenly remember all the memories I had tried to repress.

“Brian, Brian, will come to my party, please. What? No, you have to. Brian it’s my 15th birthday. I only turn fifteen once, you know,” I pleaded.

“I’ll be there, Lily, I promise. I wouldn’t miss it for the world,” he replied.

“Thanks, Brian. I knew you would. You’re the best big brother ever,” I say cheerfully before hanging up the phone. Then it is Sunday and my mother is waking me up. She has tears streaming down her face, and a look of unquestionable grief in her eyes.

“Lily, I don’t know what to say. Brian. Brian. Brian, he’s- he’s not going to be able to come to your party. He hit a lamppost on his way here,” she said.

“Is he going to be ok?” I replied.

“Honey, he’s dead.”

I pull out of Laura’s hug and decide to tell her. She deserves to know.

“His name was Brian and he was my brother, my only brother, my only sibling, to be exact. He loved to laugh and I loved to make him laugh. Brian was my favorite person in the whole world. He was 18 and it was August, August 26,2001, my birthday. I was turning fifteen,” I began.

When I finish my tale Laura looks at me but the pity I expected to see in her eyes isn’t there instead there is sorrow but also anger.

“ You think it’s your fault, do you? You’ve spent the past six years blaming yourself. Is that what Brian would want you to do?” She says icily.

My reply shoots out of my mouth before I can stop it, “Well, we’ll never know now, will we? I killed him. He’ll never be able to tell me what he wants. That’s what this is all about, isn’t it?” I pause and let the anger leave my voice before I continue bitterly, “why don’t you go off and play Good Samaritan somewhere else, with someone who cares?” I am silently praying for Laura to leave. I wanted to hurt her and I know I’ve done just that but once again she surprises me. Instead of storming away, Laura is crying. Perpetually happy, kind, bossy, helpful Laura is crying. All of a sudden I am plagued by guilt. She only wanted to help and I’ve gone and reduced her to tears.

“Laura, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean it. I want you to help me, I really do. I just don’t know how.” She stops crying and begins to laugh, loudly.

“Why do you do everything backwards? You were supposed to grieve six years ago, yet you’re doing it now. I’m supposed to be helping you and you’re comforting me. Grab you’re coat, we are leaving. You aren’t going to melt in the sunlight. Monsters aren’t going to kidnap you. No one’s going to die. You’re going out on a Sunday and you’re going to be happy about it. It’s what Brian would want you to do. It’s what I want you to do.” She leaves and I smile.

For the first time-- in a long time, I think I might actually have fun on a Sunday. After all, it’s been 312 Sundays since Brian died; I have to move on eventually. I think I might be able to forgive Brian for dying and maybe just maybe my mother will smile.

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tslh said...
Feb. 20, 2009 at 5:19 am
Your name doesn't turn up very many hits on google; I got this off of your facebook page, not google. I like reading your poems and stories.
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