A Longing to Be Proud (Chapters 1 - 4)

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Young Adult  |  House: Booksie Classic

The story of Sebastian Pride who is in search of answers about his family and about his past. He'll struggle through tough emotional times and have to face up to his brother, who abused him as a child.

Chapter 1 (v.1) - A Longing to Be Proud (Chapters 1 - 4)

Submitted: January 28, 2014

Reads: 430

Comments: 3

A A A | A A A

Submitted: January 28, 2014

A A A

A A A

A Longing to be Proud

 

1

Sometimes I wish I’d gotten to know my dad better. I mean, when I was younger we never really got along. My brother was always number one in his eyes. I was the result of a night of cheap wine and stupidity that wasn’t meant to be born. An accident. He used to come home from his shifts at the factory, stinking of booze, and lumber up to bed. Or pass out on the sofa, whichever was nearer at the time. When he wasn’t blind, stinking drunk, he was out doing some stupid father-son activity with my brother, bonding because apparently a healthy relationship is important. Yeah right.

Looking back on it now. I didn’t know anything about him. We never spoke, or when we did it was because I’d done something wrong, such as being born. But I always wondered, and still do, what it was that attracted my mum to him. Surely he must have a nice person, locked inside of him somewhere? Maybe mum was just bad at choosing her men.

But now it’s too late. I left it too goddamned late! I got the letter this morning.

I was sitting on the sofa, flicking through the television channels – I’m yet to find a decent one. The Missus was at the dining room table reading her book, the bright sunlight dropping in through the window illuminating her beautiful features. I swear she looked like a Goddess, her brown wavy hair falling perfectly around her neck and back, and her clear blue eyes shone like beacons. She breathed slowly, and her chest moved up and down in sync, it was mesmerising. The doorbell rang, and I pulled my eyes away and stood up, moving to the front door. It was the postman, who gave me a short greeting, before handing me a small envelope. I waved him goodbye, stepped back inside and looked out momentarily, before closing the door gently.

It was addressed to Seb. No surname or anything. Not many people called me Seb, but I couldn’t think who the sender could be, as the handwriting was alien to me. I slipped the letter opener in and in a few moments I had it in my hands, and was reading it carefully. Elizabeth had remained seated at the table, but her head cocked upwards as I gasped. 

To Seb, it read, dad’s been horribly paralysed in a car accident. You don’t have to come visit; it’s not as if you’re wanted here. But I just thought you should know. Bye. Kevin. So my bastard brother actually bothered to get in touch. My hands were shaking at this point and I’d already scrunched the letter into a ball and hurled it across the room, to lay in a heap by the fireplace. To hell with him! Why would I care about my good-for-nothing dad and his prize pet? Why should I? All they’ve given me is suffering and misery. The nerve!

I felt my wife’s hand on my shoulder, and I snapped around to look at her. She flinched.

“You okay?” She said quietly, almost a whisper.

“I’m sorry,” I replied, my body instantly relaxing and my heart catching in my throat, “I didn’t mean to… Sorry.” She looked at me with those opal eyes. Through me. I knew there was nothing I could hide from her.

“It’s from Kevin. Apparently dad has been in a car accident and is crippled.” I said wearily.

“Your brother? Sweetie, forget him, he’s nobody now. We have a whole load of friends who’ve been more of a brother than he ever was.” She paused. “And you’ve got me, and I’ve got you.”

“I know. Trust me, there’s nothing I want more than to forget that sod.” I gazed up at Elizabeth and sighed. “It’s just, “ I faltered, “oh nothing.”

“How about I get some juice, and we cuddle outside on the bench? Just, you, me and nature.” She placed her hands on her hip and cocked her head at me, a slight smile on her lips. A kindly one.

“That sounds perfect.” I stood up, took her hand in mine and we walked outside.

 

But forget about him I could not. As hard as I tried, a person like Kevin isn’t easily forgotten, especially after all the shit he put me through. And my dad. The man I have no reason to love at all, not a single one. I can’t help it though, can’t help think about my father’s true personality. There were so many questions I had wanted to ask him my whole life. Why do you hate me? Why did you give my bother all the attention? Why couldn’t you be a dad to me? But now he couldn’t answer any of these questions. But also… Could this be an opportunity? To see my brother after all these years? I lay in bed that night, with the window open and a cool breeze blowing the curtains every now and then. Beth was facing away from me silently sleeping, and I was on my back staring at the ceiling. Deep in thought. I came to the conclusion that it was my only option, and although the chances of even finding my brother, let alone him sitting down and answering my multitude of questions was slim, I had nothing left. If it failed then I could continue my life as normal, simple. But if I didn’t even try, it would haunt me for the rest of my life. I closed my eyes and turned onto my side, where I stayed until light broke in through the curtains the next morning.

2

The dream was unlike anything I’d ever had before. It was more… real. It was as if I had actually been transported back in time. I was sitting downstairs on the living room floor of my old house, with a train set laid at around me. I suppose I was about 5 or 6 at the time. I only had one train, a long red one, but I still managed to enjoy myself. Holding this one small train and driving it along the winding tracks with my hands, I imagined it was travelling at hundreds of miles an hour, and the wind was whistling past the windows and there were just miles and miles of open-air track ahead. My parents were nowhere to be seen. My brother neither. It was just me and the train set, with the single red train. But I didn’t care, I only needed that and my imagination to have fun. That was what life was like when I was younger. We were a poor family and there were few ways I could keep myself entertained. I learned to use my imagination, and soon I was able to turn any monotonous situation or object, into a plethora of different colourful activities and things.

Then there were footsteps. Someone outside of the house walking up to the front door. They were louder than I remember – amplified to a volume that drummed into my ears and hurt my head. Scratching at the door as keys were used, and the door swing open with such force it crashed against the wall and came off its hinges, before falling to the ground. My father strides in, a look of pure hatred on his face, and pauses.

“SEBASTIAN!” He screams. I throw my hands over my ears and squeeze my eyes tightly shut. It hurts too much. He notices me and without faltering begins to crash his way over to me. His steps are clumsy and he bashes into tables and knocks over lamps on his way. He’d been drinking, clearly.

Not again. I don’t want this again. I scramble up quickly and bolt for the toilet; there was nowhere else to run. Again he yells after me and quickens his pace to a menacing lumber. His long legs easily catch up to me, and a monstrous hand grabs me on top of my head. He grips my hair tight and lifts me off the ground. My legs are swinging helplessly and I’m screaming and screaming and yelling and screaming and begging for him to stop. He spins me around to face him and he begins to laugh an evil laugh. It cuts through like a chainsaw but I’m helpless to do anything.  Then he stops laughing. Just like that, and stares at me with a grin I will never forget.

“Kevin, dearest,” He says sweetly, “can you help daddy with something?” That’s when I notice him. My brother steps out from behind my father clutching a cricket bat. He was about 10 at this time. The bat looked huge in his hands, but he had an aura of confidence about him, as if he had been preparing for this moment for a long time. I wasn’t stupid, I knew what was going to happen next. I opened my mouth wide to scream again, but a giant hand clamps over it and no sound escapes. I’m unable to move or make any sound, I can only watch in silent horror as my brother grips the bat and holds it behind his head. He’s beaming. Tears stream down my eyes and he just smiles broadly at me, as if this is some kind of game.

THUD! My face bursts into instant fiery pain and my head is jerked to one side. My vision blurs and I begin to lose my grip on the outside world. All the sounds become distant and hard to hear. Faintly I hear my father congratulating Kevin on the strike. I hear one last thing before I lose consciousness completely.

“Son. Let me have a go.”

 

My eyes fly open. My breathing is fast and heavy, and I’m wheezing at the same time. My face is drenched in sweat and I sit up. I’m back at my house. Elizabeth is asleep next to me in bed and the room is pitch black. Somewhere outside I hear a dog bark, and then it’s silent once more. Laying back down I realised that is a dream I will never forget.

3

I awoke to the heavenly smell of bacon and eggs. There is an empty space next to me and I realise that Elizabeth is making breakfast downstairs. She truly is amazing. I slip on some jeans and a white t-shirt, and wander down. I enter the kitchen and give her a peck on the cheek.

“Morning.” She says to me, without averting her eyes from the cooker.

“Good morning.” I reply.

“Sleep well?” I hesitate. It’s probably best if I don’t tell her about the dream I had. Or nightmare.

“Yeah fine thanks.” I stand around a bit, shifting my weight from one foot to the other, unsure of what to do next.

“So?” I hear her say.

“So what?” I’m confused as to what she means. She stops cooking and turns to face me. She fixes me with a stern look.

“So what are you going to do about your father?” She holds her gaze and I can’t help but look away.

“I don’t know. Kevin was able to find my address, so I suppose I can just as easily find his. The internet is a big thing. But as to what to do from there I’m not sure. I guess I could visit him or something.” I was unsure of my words and I fumbled over a few of them.

“Absolutely not!” Beth’s voice rose significantly in volume. “He is a rat, always has been and always will! Why do you want to visit him anyway?” There was annoyance in her eyes, and it was a struggle to continue. I hate to upset my wife.

“I just, have a lot of questions, and I have to find the answers.” My voice was tiny in comparison, and had gone up a whole octave in pitch. Telling her my intentions was far harder than I had envisioned.

Beth remained silent for a long while, and I began to wonder if I was getting the silent treatment. But then she spoke. “Okay.” That was it, just that one word. Nothing more. I walked out of the room and went upstairs for a shower.

 

I sat down at my computer and stared at the screen. The search bar was blank. I dragged the mouse over to it, and typed in the name “Kevin Pryde”. I hit enter. It was easier than I could have imagined. There was only one result for the name and it led to a social networking site. Information about him, and his life appeared before me, along with pictures and videos. This was him. My brother. The person I have hated my entire life. The person who as a boy, stole all the attention from my father, leaving me with nothing but their hatred and distrust. Rage boiled up inside of me and I smashed my fist down into the keyboard. The pain was brief and the keyboard undamaged.

After a moment’s composure, I relooked at the webpage. Kevin Pryde. Born in 1970, in Perth, Scotland. Married to Stacey Pryde. There was an image of Kevin with the so-called Stacey. I instantly took a disliking to her. The way she stood, the way her hair was styled. The way she wore a spray tan, told me she wasn’t in the marriage for the love at all. She didn’t deserve the family name. Or maybe she did, after all, I was the only member of the family that turned out good. Maybe I was the odd one out. Kevin looked simply like an older version of what I remember him as. He always was good looking, with short brown hair and a face of chiselled features. He was tall, and strong too, but that didn’t make him any more of a man. Apparently he was a Sports Medicine Physician. It seems like it pays well. I felt something rise up in my throat, and I fought not to throw up. He did not deserve anything anywhere near as good as that. He deserved nothing. I continued to read. There was information on his interests and hobbies, and pictures of various places he’d been recently. And then his address. He lived in some place I hadn’t heard of in Edinburgh, but after some searching on the internet I had clear enough directions on how to get there.

So, this was it. Tomorrow I was going to get in the car and be on my way to meet my brother; after all these years. Throughout the rest of that day I kept doubting myself. Surely this wasn’t a good idea. He hates me and I hate him, it was pointless. Eventually I convinced myself it was a stupid idea.

I collapsed onto the sofa. It was late evening, and I was feeling depressed. I’d given up on driving to see my brother, there was just no way anything good could come out of it. Beth came over to me and sat down next to me. She put her hand on my leg, and her other hand slipped under my chin, and pulled my face up to meet hers.


“Don’t give up. This is your one chance. Don’t miss it. For me.” She smiled and I smiled too, I couldn’t help it. She pressed her lips against mine and we kissed and kissed until I had to pull away for a breath.

“Thank you. For everything.” I said slowly. She got up and walked out of the room, and I watched her go. My decision changed yet again – I was going to see my brother, and he was going to tell me about my father. It was going to happen. I was going to make it happen.

4

Rain pitter-pattered on the windscreen of the car. The sky was dull and lifeless, and heavy clouds were cramped above, completely blocking out the sun’s rays. The wipers moved left and right to the same never changing rhythm. To the sides, trees listed lazily past, and the road ahead seemed to stretch on forever, as cars clogged it and brought it to a standstill. The world seemed to be an ugly blend of greys and more greys.

It was late evening and it felt like I’d been driving non-stop for days. I was shattered. The satnav hadn’t said the drive would take this long, but the traffic had been appalling the whole journey here, with the car travelling in short distances of a few metres, before having to stop again. Just my luck.

I needed to rest, to stop off somewhere. I could barely stay awake, sitting in a car for hours on end really does take it out of you. I’d had my eye on this sign which stated there was a hotel not far up the road, and I’d already come to the decision I would spend the night there. The hotel eventually came into view. The sky had turned to night by the time I was able to turn off into the car park.

I was not so-much greeted, as more grunted at upon entry by a bored looking youth behind the counter. I made no effort to smile and I kept my pleasantries short. Neither of us wanted to be here, but both of us had to be here. One room, one night, that’s all I wanted. Sorted. He handed me my room key and I trudged up the stairs to room 32, and when I got to the door I fumbled with the keys. God, I was tired. The door suddenly opened and I lurched into the room. I steadied myself on the wall and looked around the room, before feeling for the light switch and flicking it. A dim bulb flickered to life above my head, loudly buzzing away as it feebly lit the room. It was small and oh so dirty. Stains, cobwebs and cracks could be seen in places I didn’t even know they could exist. But I wasn’t going to complain, it had a bed, and although it was cold and hard and lumpy it was euphoric at the same time. I quickly undressed and pulled myself under the covers and shut my eyes. There was shouting somewhere nearby, the voices muffled and the words inaudible. And then I fell asleep. No dreams or nightmares this time, just heavenly blackness.

 

I awoke the next morning in my own time, and just lay in the bed staring up at the ceiling for a few minutes. Then I forced myself to get up and drifted over to the bathroom, where I showered and changed.

 

The drive was much like that of the night before, long and dull. But I persevered and eventually my brother’s house came into view on the SATNAV. It was big and very modern. Too big. The front garden was many times the size of my own back garden, and it was well tended to with extravagant flowers spouting up here and there. A small, red gnome with a fishing pole stood guard by the path leading to the door. I pulled up on the road beside the house and got out of the car. As I walked down the path I looked at the gnome and it looked up at me, as if warning me about what I was going to do. I broke free from the stone gaze and walked straight ahead right up to the door.

I paused. The nerves were getting to me and I fought the urge to shake. This was not the time to appear weak. I rang the doorbell and stepped slightly away from the door, as if it would swing outwards instead of inwards.

The door opened and my brother stood in the doorway. He wore casual clothes, loose-fitting jeans and a plain white t-shirt. He looked at me, without a flicker of recognition in his eyes.

“Yes?” he said impatiently. Perhaps he thought I was a cold caller and he couldn’t be bothered with me. Or maybe that was simply his everyday attitude.

“Umm… Hi. It’s me, Sebastian. Your brother. I’m here because of the letter you sent me.” I stuttered.

Kevin glared at me for a short moment. And then his eyes widened in realisation. Without a moment’s hesitation he moved to slam the door in my face. But I wasn’t going to let him ruin everything. Again. I threw my leg out and my foot landed in the doorway. The door crashed into the side of my foot and the pain shot up my leg, but I didn’t shout. I didn’t give him the satisfaction of even seeing me wince.

“Get out!” he roared. His face was going red and his nostrils flared. His voice was deep and loud, and shivers rocketed down my spine, and he had a thick Scottish accent. But I held my ground. “I thought I made it pretty clear you were not wanted around here!”

I was trying to keep calm. “I just – “

“Shut it! I knew sending you that bloody letter was a bad idea. I want you out of my house. NOW! Or I’m calling the police!”

“What about dad though?” My voice was getting louder and it took all my willpower to stop myself from punching him there and then.

“Oh that’s bloody rich!” He spat the words out. “He doesn’t care about you. Don’t you get it? He hates you, and he never liked you. I never liked you! You’re the runt of the family and I wish with all my heart that it was you that got hit by the car, and not dad. You don’t even deserve to call him dad! That’s how much he cares about you.” And before I had a chance to respond he thrust his arm out and the palm hit my squarely in the chest. He pushed and I tripped backwards, almost falling over. Instead, my legs clumsily stumbled over each other in an attempt to simply get behind me and prevent a fall. I heard the door wham shut and once I’d found my footing I glanced upwards. The door was indeed firmly closed. I heard a lock click shut on the inside and knew there was no way on Earth that door was going to open any time soon.

I cursed under my breath, and utterly defeated I turned and walked slowly down the garden path. At the end of the path the gnome stared up at me mockingly. My anger flared up inside of me and I swung my leg at it with full force. The fishing rod broke off and the gnome flew through the air, landing on the other side of the garden. I staggered back to the car, hating myself for losing my temper. But at the same time it had felt so good, watching that smug little gnome arc through the air. But that was it. I’d failed. I’d goddamn failed! I hated myself; was tearing myself to shreds on the inside. The feeling of utter hopelessness clung to me and I let it overwhelm me. I’d given up fighting it. It was truly over.

I got back in the car, put my seatbelt on. And just drove. I knew what I was looking for, although I didn’t know where to find it. A pub. I wanted more than anything to drown my sorrows with pints and pints of precious beer. It didn’t take long to find one, a quaint little building, hidden away in a small side road. I wandered in and practically collapsed onto a barstool. I stared at the beermat in front me.

The bartender walked over to me and said “What can I get you, sir?”

I slowly tilted my head up, and with tears beginning to form in my eyes I mumbled “Enough beer to end my miserable, worthless life.”


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