“Hey Ed, stop!” Dylan yelled after his younger brother. Edward barely spared the redhead a glance before turning back towards the forest path, his long golden hair tangling in the wind.
Dylan sighed and glanced at his twin sister for help. Lucy just shrugged helplessly before running after their troublemaker of a brother. Not wanting to be left behind, Dylan glanced back at his family’s house, startlingly colourful against the darkening gray sky, and then followed his siblings.
The path wasn’t all that impressive, just a short winding trail of loosely packed gravel that led down the steep forested hill. It was what was at the bottom of the hill that caused the three children to rush down the path.
When Dylan reached the bottom, he was treated to the sight of the gray-blue ocean crashing against the cliffs of the shore in a spray of white mist. The wind was even stronger down there, and it made Dylan’s chocolate brown eyes water as he searched the uneven rocks for his blond siblings. He found Lucy first, picking her way carefully down a particularly steep ledge. She had zipped up her white sweater so that it protected her from the frigid weather.
Dylan scanned the rocky landscape once more, finally locating Ed. Being the best climber of the three kids, he had already made it to the almost unnoticeable path leading down to the cluster of caves he had made his second home.
Dylan felt a flash of worry as he started to scramble across the craggy terrain. He hated when he and Ed argued. It always ended like this, though usually Dylan would wait a few days before following the smaller boy. But this time he knew he had overstepped his boundaries. Dylan might not always get along with Edward’s friends, but he had no right to badmouth them for something as trivial as loosing a book he had lent them.
So, when Ed had fled down to the sea cliffs, he had grabbed a protesting Lucy and followed. He knew he had to apologize before Ed simmered some more.
By the time Dylan and Lucy finally reached the caves, Ed had already taken shelter in the one closest to the edge of the cliff. It was his favorite, even though, or perhaps because, it was the most dangerous to get to. Dylan pressed himself closer to the cliff face as he shuffled towards his younger brother.
“Hey, Dylan, stop,” he heard Lucy call over from the start of the path.
Turning his head he yelled back, “Not now Luce, we can talk in the cave!”
“There’s a storm coming Dylan, we have to go back to the house. It will be safer,” she screamed over the still-rising wind. It was true. Dylan had lived here long enough to know when there was a big storm on the way. He could practically smell it over the salt from the ocean spray.
“We can’t just leave Ed out here on his own!”
Lucy shook her head at Dylan’s concern. “He came out here. It’s his fault if he gets stuck. You can stay, but I’m going to be warm and safe at home.” She turned on her heel and hurried indignantly back to their house.
Dylan sighed as he watched her retreating. She was probably right. If he confronted Ed in the cave, neither of them would be able to make it back to the house. But the cave went pretty deep, and he certainly couldn’t leave his little brother alone in the storm.
By the time Dylan made it to the cave, the storm was already picking up. Squinting in the darkness, he let his eyes adjust until he could pick out the golden hair and crimson hoodie of his little brother.
“Ed, I’m sorry,” Dylan said, glancing down at his shoes.
“It’s not your fault.” The reply was strained. Ed always got in a bad way when they fought, especially when it got this out of hand. “You were probably right,” he amended, “about me, not Roy.”
Dylan nodded. “Yeah, that was out of line.”
Suddenly Dylan felt a strong wind, followed by a splash of salt-water on his back. “Does the cave go further back?” he asked, knowing they would have to wait out the storm here.
“Yeah.” Ed’s voice was clearer now, and Dylan was glad he seemed to have calmed down.
Once they were huddled in the back of the cave Ed turned to look at his brother. “Can you braid my hair?” he asked. Dylan blinked at the unexpected question. It wasn’t that his hair was too short; it was actually longer than Lucy’s by now. But Dylan still couldn’t remember the last time Ed had even worn his hair in a ponytail, much less a braid. Still, it gave them something to do. And they had a storm to wait out.
Even back here they could feel the frigid wind and hear the cracking of the tree branches in the gale.
“Where’s Lucy?” Ed asked, only now realizing she was missing.
“She went back home,” Dylan answered. “She’s safe,” he said, reassuring himself as much as Ed. Dylan had always been overprotective, so the bad feeling he had in his gut was probably nothing. If anything, Lucy should be the one worrying. The storm was getting pretty bad, and it probably wouldn’t let up until morning. He and Ed were going to be in so much trouble when they got home.
By the time the two brothers made it through the gravel path through the woods, the sun was already peeking through the gaps in the empty storm clouds.
Dylan picked through fallen debris. Even a few trees were blown down from the wind. ‘It’s a good thing we didn’t try to go back,’ he thought. He didn’t even consider Lucy until he nearly ran into Edward.
“Ed, what’s wrong?” he asked, confused.
Ed didn’t seem to hear him. Just kept on staring at something on the ground. Growing impatient, Dylan pushed around him.
It took a few seconds for everything to register, but when it did the world just kind of stopped. Distantly, Dylan wished he hadn’t been so impatient. It was silly, but he thought that if he hadn’t looked at what had made Ed freeze, nothing would have changed. If he hadn’t seen the fallen tree, crushing the body he had grown up with. If he kept walking instead of staring at the filthy blonde locks clumped together in the puddle of thick, rain-diluted blood. If he just kept staring at Ed’s braid instead of those clouded brown eyes that matched his own, then maybe, for just a few more seconds, he would still have a sister.