• Alexia Acosta

My Dear Brother

Cracked cement lined the entrance to the house; weeds struggling to reach the sun littered the front yard. A bike, bright and shiny, stood in front of the house, a jewel compared to its surroundings. Jade hesitated when she saw the motorcycle, recoiling as if she saw a dying man reaching for her with his cracked fingernails, silently rasping his final words through his cracked lips. She continued toward the house with a new type of steel in her eyes. She opened the door and peeked inside, spotting a person looking around the house. He stood there as he heard her enter, and a new sense of exhaustion rolled over Jade. “Hi, my name is Jade. I think Danny mentioned me to you.”

“Oh, yeah; he did. I’m Lawson, nice to meet you.”

People were exhausting, and Jade was tired; tired of trying to keep her artificially sweet smile plastered to her face, tired of the nuances of human interaction.

“Kay, let’s just look at this house,” Jade snipped.

She looked about the house in search of any imperfection so she could leave as fast as possible. However, to Jade’s dismay, the house seemed perfectly livable. The wooden floors were smooth, the kitchen clean, and a living room with enough space to fit a decent amount of people. The house was a steal, and Jade knew it. She couldn’t pass up the offer, but irritation bubbled inside her. Lawson broke her train of thought, “What do you think of this balcony?” She looked out at the balcony and towards the street; a table was stuck in the fence, some shoes were hanging in the cable wires, but the balcony was fine. Jade finally boiled over and bit out, “If I fell off this, I would fucking die.”

“Okay, well, if we end up in this house, you’ll get a different room then.” Jade took a deep breath and looked at the person next to her. He was there, dealing with her barbed attitude in the most polite way possible. She took another deep breath, plastered her too sweet smile on her face, and said, “So, what do you love doing?” He looked genuinely surprised at her attempt to reach out to him. He continued smiling as he said, “I love riding my motorcycle, really anywhere, especially in Malibu.”

“Motorcycle? Is the one outside yours?” Jade inwardly filched.

“Yes..?”

“Wow. I cannot imagine riding that thing.”

That thing?”

“Yeah, that death trap with wheels you call a motorcycle.” She had to get out of there, had to get away from Lawson, had to avoid it from happening again. Jade quickly walked towards the stairs, taking two steps at a time.“That thing is a family heirloom given to me by my mother, who got it from her father.” Lawson said to her as she lept off the last step. Jade couldn’t take it anymore. She had to leave. Jade stopped at the bottom of the stairs with her back towards Lawson and forcibly spit out, “I’m done with this conversation; I’m leaving.” Jade looked up at Lawson to find that he was no longer on the second story. He was right behind her. “What the hell..!? No, you’re not leaving because we still have to scout out the house, Jade” Lawson said to her face. He towered over her like a brick wall that hadn’t moved for years. Jade could feel her heart beating faster, her thoughts fizzling out, and the one thought that was left was to move. She let that one thought loose through her mouth and pushed Lawson to no avail. The cracking, snapping, and the sudden feeling of falling overtook Jade’s thoughts. The breath in her already empty lungs was pushed out, leaving her dazed on the floor, looking at something she couldn’t determine until it spoke. “Fuck, man — that was weird, are you okay?” Lawson said as she was lying on top of him, “Umph.. Ya, t-thanks for asking..”

“Yap, no problem; mind getting off of me..?”

“Oh. Ya, shit..!”

“Nah, it’s cool” Lawson responded calmly. Jade lifted herself off of him and looked around the room, a small window, some pool noodles, and walls… walls that shifted closer and closer. The walls were snakes wrapping themselves tighter and tighter. Jade couldn't breathe; the walls had started to laugh at her pain, at her struggle to take another breath in. “Hey, are you okay..?” Lawson’s voice seemed to be underwater, too deep, too far away. Jade's mouth seemed to form a reply, but she couldn’t remember if she said anything; the walls were too close. They were swirling around her in a frenzied dance. The walls were snakes again, choking her. She couldn't breathe just like that time. Just a few weeks ago, her world had collapsed and now she is left to pick up the pieces.

The snakes wrapped around her tighter and pulled her from her thoughts. The cold wet tears running down her face mocked her for weakness and terror. Suddenly, strong arms wrapped around Jade, warding away the snakes, the walls, she corrected herself. She blurted out, “What the —.” She leaned into Lawson a tiny bit more and said “I…” she stopped talking and gave in to his protection. The walls were not laughing at her, her tears were not mocking her, Jade could finally breathe. She would always be thankful for what Lawson did for her, and she said as much into his shirt.

They stayed there together, until one of their mutual friends gasped out, “OH MY GOD, were you guys..??”

“Whoa, Lawson…” interrupted Danny, the other friend who unlocked the basement door, looking at Lawson as if he had broken an unspoken promise. Lawson shot up and Jade scrambled into a standing position. Lawson gave her an apologetic smile, but Jade was too busy thinking what she was going to say. Then, both Lawson and Jade blurted out “we got—” and looked at each other as Lawson said, “oh, n-no, you can go first if you want.” However, Jade had nothing to say, she was stalling for time. She said quickly, “no. It’s fine. You can tell them,”

“uh, okay, sure,” Lawson said. “When we got here, we got into an argument about my motorcycle and weren’t paying attention to the wooden floors near the staircase and we both fell down into the basement,”

“Ah, I see, that makes sense, but that doesn’t explain why you two were —” but Jade swiftly interrupted Danny before he could say anything else, “I got claustrophobic and he was comforting me; quit conflating your own thoughts with us, Danny..!” Jade began to walk towards the exit, away from the place she would never return to. “Oh-kay, Oh-kay, chill, don’t get your panties in a twist.”

“Ugh.., fuck off, perv..!”

“Haha, alright, Princess..” Danny's laugh continued until both he and Jade jumped into his car and started the drive to her house.

“So, claustrophobia, that’s new.”

“No, it’s not” Jade bit back. “Sorry Danny, I’ve had a really stressful day” Jade snorted, “have had a really stressful month, to be honest.” Danny silently accepted what Jade said and a new tension weighed the air. The tension remained until Jade turned on the radio, opened the windows, and blasted the music to the highest volume. They didn’t need to talk anymore. They just had to enjoy the present and not think about the future or the past. Danny’s car arrived at Jade’s house in ten minutes, but it seemed like hours had passed. Jade waved to Danny and headed towards her home. Her home that she wouldn’t be able to keep. Jade stepped forward and paused, a young man was in her front yard. He was trying to reach her with his cracked fingernails and saying his final words, “Eu te amo, lembre-se sempre disso.” He smiled his last smile and closed his eyes. The only thing left was his motorcycle on the front lawn of Jade's house and Jade’s shattered heart.

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