In the Absence of Faith

Chapter Five

I reach to the sky and I call out your name
And if I could trade I would
And it feels and it feels like heaven's so far away
And it stings yeah it stings now
The world is so cold now that you've gone away

He missed. Groaning, Taylor lay sickly, half his body hanging off the side of the bed, squinting at the wastebasket below that he could have sworn was five inches to the left just a moment ago. Crinkling his nose at the putrid stench, he turned his head, crawling back under the covers, an unexplainable guilty feeling in the pit of his stomach at the mess that he had caused. Peering back at the nightstand, Taylor noticed something, painfully pushing himself into a sitting position as he reached out a shaky hand for the objects resting on the fine mahogany surface.

I figured you could use a few of these, but I didn't want to wake you yesterday, I know how much you needed the rest. Isaac wouldn't let me in here, but I waited for him to fall asleep…I hope you're all right Tay, I don't wanna lose you now. Looking down at the pills in his hand, Taylor tossed them into his mouth, washing them down with the small glass of water that had accompanied the note, grimacing at the slight burning in his throat.

Swinging his legs to the side, Taylor grasped the edge of the headboard tightly, standing unsteadily as he bit down on his lower lip, concentrating hard to keep his balance. Limping over to the corner where his brother had absentmindedly thrown his belongings, Taylor carefully unzipped a suitcase, sorting through the articles of clothing, frustrated as he discarded shirt after shirt. His hands grasping a black hooded sweatshirt and jeans of the same color, he hobbled back over to the bed, collapsing on the blankets, weakened by the short walk across the room. Tugging the shirt over his head, he fumbled with the button to his pants, swallowing hard at the dizziness as he fought to remain focused. Writhing out of the old ones, he gently pulled on the fresh jeans, frowning as they slid back down to his knees.

"Shit have I lost this much weight?" Snapping his head up at the sound of voices, Taylor held onto his pants with one hand as he made his way to the door, catching a shadow as it made its way around a corner. Taking in a deep breath, he followed, leaning against the wall as he forced his legs to keep moving. Glancing into a door at his right, his heart sped up at the sight of his younger brother, seated silently on his bed as he gazed out the window, seemingly in a daze. "Zac…ZAC!"

Jumping at the sound of his name, Zac whipped around, a smile forming on his lips as he leapt to his feet, moving to envelop his brother in a hug but thinking twice about it. "Tay! God I'm so sorry, I…I didn't mean to leave you, Ike made me, I'm so sorry…please…thank God you're okay, I was so scared…"

"Zac, help me." Lifting his head, Taylor stared into his brother's eyes, pleading with him, begging him to be at his side even though he knew he did not deserve anything, not after what he had done, not with what he would do in the future. "I…ugh." Crouching, his back pressed against the wall, Taylor hung his head, his hands grasping loosely onto the sweaty strings of hair that covered his face.

"What…what's wrong Tay?"

"I…I need a belt, I have a slight problem." Hinting to his jeans, Taylor watched his brother dig through the pile of laundry on the floor, his eyes never leaving the one person who still had faith in him. Reaching out a hand as Zac returned, a black leather belt dangling from his brother's fingers, he quietly wove it through the loops, buckling it on the tightest hole.

"Didn't you just buy those a few weeks ago?" Motioning towards the clothing that still sagged below his brother's hips, Zac felt the heavy air of insecurity that surrounded Taylor.

"Yeah…" Swallowing hard, Taylor regretted having ever paid his brother a visit, wanting more than anything to run and never look back.

"They weren't this big then."

"I know." Shifting uncomfortably, Taylor dwelled on the one idea that had been in his head since he awoke that morning, the thought of telling his brother everything.

"Why do I think there's more to this? Why do I know you didn't come in here just for some godforsaken belt?" Cringing at the angry tone in Zac's voice, Taylor sighed raggedly, blinking back the few tears that he could not allow to fall.

"There is," he whispered, "I need help."

"What do you mean?" His voice quivering, Zac trembled slightly, not liking the distant look in his brother's eyes.

"I'm sick Zac."

"Duh." Noticing the hurt expression on his brother's face, Zac mentally slapped himself. "I'm sorry Tay, I didn't mean it that way, I just don't understand why you think me and Ike don't care about you. We love you."

"Where is he?"

"Uh, Ike? He's in the den."

"Oh…" Confused by the disappointment in Taylor's words, Zac stepped closer, pushing a strand of his brother's hair behind his ear.

"Do you wanna talk to him?"

"I…I can't." Shaking his head, Taylor added in an embarrassed voice, "I don't think I can walk that far." Shocked, Zac gaped at Taylor, his stomach churning with the dread of something he could not yet see.

"Well…lean on me." Putting Taylor's arm around his shoulder, Zac bore his brother's weight as they precariously walked down the hallway.

"I…think that phrase is copyrighted, Zac."

"Yeah…it was pretty lame." Glancing over at Taylor's sweat laden face, Zac stood straighter, determination swelling inside him, determination to get them through this unseen horror even if he was forced to carry the entire burden.

"Is Ike mad at me?"

"Uh," hesitating, Zac tightened his grip around his brother's waist, "yeah, he is."

"Are you mad at me?" Gulping, Zac looked down at his shoes, growing hot as he felt his brother's eyes burning into his skin.

"Why shouldn't I be, Tay? All you do is push me away! I protected you, I stood up for you against Ike, I believed in you! I believed that you loved us enough to tell us your problems, but obviously we're not good enough for you. Do you know what the past few days have been for me? Hell Tay, pure fucking Hell. You worry me so much, and it hurts to think you don't care about yourself, you don't care about me.

"Woah, woah, what the fuck are you talking about? I care about you…"


"Whether I care about me or not has nothing to do with this."

"No see you're wrong Tay, it has everything to do with this." Pushing his brother up against the wall, Zac gripped at Taylor's collar, glaring into his eyes. "Do you know how much it hurts me to see you in pain, and don't say you're not cause I can tell. But to watch you lay down and die without even fighting, that hurts me more." Releasing his hold on his brother, Zac let Taylor slide to the floor, stepping over him as he made his way into the den, the tears flowing freely down his cheeks.


 "You’re kidding me."

"No I’m not, he wants to talk to you."

"You mean the mighty Taylor Hanson actually wants to talk to his lowly brother?" Tossing his magazine onto the table, Isaac placed his hands behind his head, leaving back in the armchair as he smirked at Zac.

"Please Ike, at least pretend you care…"

"You know I care, I don’t need to pretend."

"Fine, at least act it then."

"Whatev…oh my God." Swallowing hard, Isaac slowly stood, groping behind him for the chair so to steady himself as his knees felt like they would give out on him at any given moment. Following Isaac’s gaze, Zac sucked in a breath as Taylor stumbled into the room and fell to his knees. Reaching towards his brother timidly, Isaac pulled back, sitting back down calmly as he narrowed his eyes.

The hope dying in his eyes as Isaac returned to his chair, Taylor crawled carefully into the corner, propping himself against the walls, one leg stretched out, the other bent at the knee, on which he rested his chin. Twirling a strand of hair between his fingers, Taylor mumbled inaudibly, looking up into the face of his brother.

"What was that Tay? More bullshit? Do you expect me to be impartial to what you say? Do you really believe what you say doesn’t hurt me?"


"It hurts because I fucking care!" Exasperated, Isaac was on his feet once again, moving swiftly towards the corner. Shaking, Taylor put his arms up in defense, covering his face as he sobbed.

"I know Ike, I know! Please don’t hurt me, please I’m sorry! Let me explain please! Please…" Screaming, Taylor writhed in torment as Isaac grabbed his arm and dragged him away from the corner, away from his shelter. Tossing his brother onto the couch, Isaac motioned for Zac to push a chair over, his eyes never leaving Taylor’s as he perched on the cushion’s edge, one hand pressed firmly on his brother’s chest.

"Start talking."

"I…I know I’ve treated you like shit lately…"

"Tell me something I don’t know."

"Please Ike, I’m sorry I…I just didn’t think you’d care about me, not with what’s going on between mom and dad. I thought you’d just say I was whining…and tell me to grow up. But I can’t help this! It hurts so much…I just don’t know what to do anymore, I’m so embarrassed…I’m not supposed to be like this! I’m now supposed to be this fucked up! I can’t do a fucking thing for myself, I can’t take this anymore, I can’t take this anymore…"

"Taylor, calm down!" Gasping for air, Taylor shook his head wildly, closing his eyes as he felt the air pressing in on him. "Taylor please…Taylor…Taylor!"

************************************************************************* Musical credit given to The Offspring for "Gone Away."

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