I know I should have told you but I was so afraid you’d leave
And now there’s nothing left to say, well nothing you’d believe
I never meant to hurt you with the things I couldn’t say
I promise you tomorrow while denying you today
These lies have torn my world apart…
"Wake up! Please Tay, come back to us!" Pouring the contents of a gallon water jug over his brother’s face, Zac stepped back as Taylor’s eyes shot open. "Thank god."
Sputtering and disoriented, Taylor squinted into Isaac’s face, relieved by the absence of anger and the presence of concern. Licking his lips, Taylor spoke softly, "Let me go Ike, please, I’m sorry for bothering you, just forget it."
"Huh he asks me to forget it, can you believe it Zac? He asks me to forget it…what the hell do you take me for Tay!? You’re my brother, I’m not gonna walk away and leave you like this!"
"It’s just a cold Ike…"
"Just a cold…do you think I’m that fucking stupid Tay?"
"No…" Sighing, Taylor covered his head with his hands, feeling the sweat on the surface of his skin.
"How much do you weigh?" The question sudden, Taylor blinked dumbly, not grasping the question. "Answer me! How much do you weigh?"
"I…I don’t know."
"Yes you do, tell me. Tell me!"
"I can’t, you’ll laugh…" Groaning, Isaac leaned closer to his brother’s face, placing a hand on his cheek.
"Why…do you think I won’t take you seriously Tay? I can see how much you’re hurting, I can feel it, right here," Isaac motioned towards his chest. "You’d never lie to me about a thing like this, I know you wouldn’t, I trust you not to. And I understand why you hid yourself from us, I just want you to know that you don’t hafta, we’re always here for you, right by you side."
Pausing a moment to let it all sink in, Taylor shifted uncomfortably, adverting his eyes from Isaac’s face. "Ninety-six."
"Ninety-six pounds, you asked me how much I weighed."
"Oh God…" Studying Taylor closely for the first time, Isaac took his brother’s arm into his hand, wrapping his fingers around it til they touched each other. "What’s wrong with you?" he asked in a near whisper, blinking back a few tears that threatened to spill over. "What else should I know about?"
"What do you mean?"
"Besides throwing up, what else has been going on?"
"Sleeping…tired…everything hurts…coughing…blood, lots of blood."
Lifting his head quickly, Zac stared at Isaac, speaking the question that was on both of their minds: "From where?"
"That’s all!?" His voice rising to a near shriek, Isaac buried his head in his hands. "God please, what are you doing to him, he doesn’t deserve this, please…"
"Tay…" His voice quavering, Zac played with a thread on his shirt absentmindedly. "What happened on the plane?" Flashing back to the single toilet, Taylor moaned softly, fighting to push the memory from his mind.
"Don’t start again Tay, please, don’t runaway from us again…" Zac begged.
"There was blood when I went to the goddamned bathroom okay? So get off my fucking back, I don’t want to talk about it."
"Fuck!" Jumping at Isaac’s outburst, Taylor and Zac gaped at their older brother. "What the hell are we gonna do? We’re in the middle of fucking nowhere and…and I can’t let you die here…I’m so sorry Tay, I didn’t mean to be so forceful, but it was the only way I could get you to listen to me."
"I know Ike…I remember the night, when you stayed with me, I never forgot what you said…I know you’ll never let anything happen to me…we’ll make it together…we have to." Yawning, Taylor shivered slightly.
"Look…how bout we all get a little rest, and we’ll decide what to do in the morning."
"But Ike, it’s only four…" Zac started.
"Zac, just go to bed."
"I’m so proud of you Tay." Gazing down at the sleeping form on the bed, Zac sniffled quietly. "I know…I know Ike seemed angry, but he loves you so much, he’s just so scared right now…he thinks cause he’s the oldest he’s supposed to protect us from everything, and he believes he’s failed now. I believe I’ve failed…"
"No you haven’t." Placing a hand on Zac’s shoulder, Isaac glanced down at Taylor briefly. "He looks like he’s already dead."
"Don’t talk that way Ike."
"I’m only speaking the truth."
"Do you really think he’ll sleep til tomorrow?" Zac questioned, brushing his hand over Taylor’s forehead, flinching at the warmth.
"He’ll sleep clear through Thursday if we don’t wake him up." Isaac sighed. "I’ve already checked the house, there’s nothing, not a fucking pill in the place. How many aspirin did you bring with you?"
"Like ten or something…did dad pack anything?"
"I doubt it, the fool didn’t even remember his toothbrush, he’s been using mine. Okay look, tomorrow, you and me, we’re going for a drive. We’ll find like a Rite-Aid or something, and maybe a doctor, there’s got to be a hospital somewhere."
"What about Tay? What’s he gonna do?"
"That’s up to him, we’ll cross that bridge when he wakes up. C’mon, lets just check the bathrooms one more time…maybe I missed something."
"You…you can’t leave me here with him…you can’t. Please Zac, you can’t do this to me! Please!"
"Tay, for Christ’s sake let go of me!" Prying Taylor’s hands from his shirt hem, Zac ducked out of the way of his hysterical brother, anger boiling over inside of him. "If you don’t want to stay here, then just come with us!"
"You don’t understand, I can’t, I’ll get sick again…I don’t wanna hurt anymore."
"Then just stay here, he ain’t gonna touch you, God, he made one mistake, are you gonna hold it against him for the rest of your life? He was angry and he took it out on you, haven’t we all done that?"
"I’ve never kicked nobody."
"Why don’t you talk to him about it? There’s a novel idea, I bet you’d be surprised to see how sorry he is. Hey Ike, come in here!" Zac hollered, catching a shadow making its way down the hallway.
"C’mon Zac, we hafta get going, it’s almost noon, I want to be back by four. The sooner we pump you up with drugs," Isaac eyed Taylor, "the better."
"Isaac, please, don’t leave me, don’t go, just stay here, I’ll be alright, please, I…I’ll make it without anything, please just don’t go…"
"What the hell are you ranting about? Of course we’re going, come with us if you want…"
"No! No! Stay here with me…"
"Tay, just shut up, stop acting like such a damn baby…ow!" Grabbing his head, Zac glared at Isaac.
"Zac, leave, now."
"LEAVE!" Grumbling, Zac stormed out the door, slamming it behind him, the sound echoing through the silent room. "Tay, what’s wrong?"
"You can’t leave me here with dad, he’ll hurt me again…"
"Come with us then, it’s not a problem."
"Not a problem? I can hardly keep my guts intact lying in bed, what do you think it’d be like in a car?" Grimacing at the thought, Taylor rubbed his stomach gingerly.
"Look Tay, do you trust me?" Narrowing his eyes, Taylor refused to meet his older brother’s eyes.
"What did I tell you that night?"
"That you wouldn’t let anything happen to me…"
"I wasn’t just saying that Tay, I meant it." Wiping a hand across his eyes, Taylor slowly began rocking back and forth, tucking his knees to his chest.
"Are you gonna talk to him?"
"Please Tay, do it for me."
"While you’re at it, why don’t you ask him if he packed any Tylenol or something…we’re running low and you may need some more before we get back, okay?"
"Fine." Standing up, the bed creaking as his weight was removed, Isaac disappeared around the corner. Jumping as the car engine started just outside his window, Taylor lay down carefully, fighting to breathe steadily as fear clogged his throat. Shaking his mind clear of those thoughts, he rolled over, facing the far wall. "Goodbye Ike, Zac, I love you guys."
************************************************************************* Musical credit given to Stabbing Westward for "Torn Apart."
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