backhand stories the creative writing blog

He had his head in his hands.

I leaned against the door frame in the bathroom; the desperately open display of human emotion on the floor before me seeped into my eyes as smoothly and coolly as the chill air ran up my bare legs and under my cotton nightshirt. I shifted my weight to expel and extinguish the motherly concern in my stance that would only incense him. I’d never seen my brother like this.

He’d dropped by the bar after work, as he usually did, then had driven home with what must have been even the slightest swerve. I must assume, for I wasn’t there, but I do know alcohol isn’t so forgiving as to allow linear thought, much less linear driving. Once home, he’d continued to drink and now here he was: too far gone to walk, but still talking.

“I love her, Lisa. You have no fucking idea how much I love her.”

It would be best to keep him grounded. Keep him from flying off into the horizon and burning himself in the sun. A modern day Icarus.

“Do you need anything?”

He rested his fist against the tile wall that surrounded the alcove around the toilet. The motion was all too gentle and I felt it coming.

Thud, thud, thud!

Tiny droplets of blood glittered on the back of each knuckle. Little bits of pulverized plaster clung unnoticed to his hand as he drew it back, and without so much as a glance returned it to its place of support under his body.

All was silent for a moment. I watched him as a child would watch the news; absorbing every moment with a lamb’s passivity, never truly understanding the raging storms, the violence, or the fear. The alcohol brightened a scrolling marquee in his eyes. The answer to my question.

He needs her.