It’s dark already and I want to be out there, alone in the night. But here we are, sitting in the living room of a dead man, trying to escape our collective suffering through reality TV. Our silences are performed against this and the background roar of a freeway, a gentle reminder that although we are in another country, we have not left the suburbs. I can feel a tension across my shoulders, muscles seeking freedom from their spinal grip. It is late and I am tired but I know I will struggle to sleep.
Will suddenly stands up and his voice is ferocious.
“You want everything to change. You land in here and you want everyone to stop and pay attention to you. Your and your _boy_friend.”
He spits the word, like it is a disease.
“Just listen to yourself,” Rory snaps back. “Can’t you just accept that it happened? We can’t go on pretending it didn’t.”
Will paces around, then stops and braces himself, gripping the edges of a slim bookcase that’s obviously been in their family for years. I start thinking they are going to fight, I mean with their fists. I know Will is a fighter and stronger than his older brother. I know he has split the lips of women he has kissed.
Then I notice a tear travelling down his cheek and the heaving of his broad back in spasms.
Now Rory gets up off the sofa and so do I, intending to discretely remove myself via the sliding glass that insulates our miseries from the neighbours. Before I can, Will shoves the bookcase and leaves it rocking precariously for a second as he abandons us for the hallway. We hear a slam and know he has gone.
I want to take my cue from his face but Rory turns away. For a moment I am going to do the right thing. I am going to walk over to him and press myself against him and protectively wrap my arms around him and just hold him so he is reassured by my breath on his neck.
But I don’t.
The glass door sighs as I slide it by, creating a gap just wide enough for me to step outside. I glance back to see Rory still standing there, under a light bulb whose glass skirt has jaundiced our evening.
Thousands of years away, the half moon is serenely balanced in the night sky.
A scene about two brothers navigating the hazardous terrain between masculinity, sexuality and grief. The reader is left with questions about what has preceded the scene and free to reflect on the possibilities.