Do and Be Done

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Other  |  House: Booksie Classic
A short story that deals with a sibling relationship and the consequences of actions and words.

Submitted: October 20, 2011

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Submitted: October 20, 2011

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Alice could tell that James was crying even though he had his back to the door. Alice had been walking past his room on her way to bed but James’s door was slightly ajar and she wanted to say goodnight to her little brother. She knew better than to open his door if it was firmly closed but when it was open, however slightly, he didn’t complain about visitors.

Alice had never seen her brother crying; he always appeared to be so thick skinned and almost heartless. Alice has always loved him dearly, despite his hardness. When she was just a toddler James had appeared in mummy’s tummy and even though she was far too young to understand what pregnancy was she had taken to the idea of a sibling with relish. As James grew Alice had seen him as a plaything, pet, pest and finally a brilliant young man. Did she dare go in to see what was wrong?

Alice peeked through the door at the slightly hunched figure with the slightly wavy, slightly too long hair sat at his computer desk in his pyjamas with one hand holding his glasses and the other wiping his tears away. Unusually, the computer was not switched on and neither was the TV. Alice was aware that she was staring but was torn between going in and asking what was wrong which would inevitably lead to accusations of interfering or complete denial of anything being amiss or leaving it and knowing she would be awake for an age worrying.

After a few seconds during which she changed her mind at least ten times, Alice gently knocked on James’s door. He turned to face the door and could see her standing in the now open doorway. “What?” he asked in a somewhat downbeat manner. It always fascinated Alice how her brother could manage to convey so much meaning through the use of a vocabulary that consisted mainly of monosyllabic noises. This definitely sounded like a “what” that carried a hint of desperation combined with mild irritation, tiredness and a definite slant towards the “leave me alone”. However, Alice was not going to be put off now that she had made the decision to find out the reason for James’s tears.

“I was going to say goodnight but could see that you are upset. What’s up?” asked Alice trying to sound both cheerful and concerned at the same time. “None of your business” grunted James. “James Read, I am not leaving this room until you tell me so get on with it” Alice retorted in as an assertive voice as she could manage.

After much verbal jousting James finally conceded defeat and asked Alice to shut his door. Alice closed the door and sat on James’s bed, being careful to ensure she did not sit on the two games consoles, homework books, abandoned clothes and gaming magazines strewn liberally around. Alice thought better of her desire to tell him to tidy up.

“I’m gay” James said. Now, whilst this came as a surprise to Alice it wasn’t a complete shock. James had never shown much interest in girls and didn’t even bother trying to get sneaky glimpses of her friends when they stopped over. In fact, as Alice thought more about it she realised that deep down she knew. However, Alice couldn’t understand why James was crying. She knew it was going to be a shock to their mother but she was fairly liberal and probably would embrace it. As far as she knew James hadn’t seen or spoken to his dad in over three years since he left them and went to live in France with his new wife. Alice and James had been really annoyed that he had decided to emigrate and in a fit of pique refused to have anything more to do with him. Certainly Alice had refused all attempts at contact since.

“So, what’s to cry about?” enquired Alice.

“I’m not just gay. I was looking at gay porn earlier and I realised that I get more pleasure from looking at things that just aren’t right”. At this point Alice’s world spun on its axis and she felt sick to the pit of her stomach. Her mind was tossing around all sorts of hideous ideas. Obviously, Alice hadn’t reached the age of 19 without knowing about bestiality, paedophilia and snuff movies but she really didn’t want to hear that her own brother, her own flesh and blood, could be into any of these sick and depraved activities. But he was crying. Surely whatever it was must be so debauched that even he was ashamed of it.

Alice rose from the bed, now shedding her own tears. She backed towards the door, felt for the knob, turned it and opened the door. “Please don’t tell me, you sick bastard” she hissed quietly at him. “I want you out of this house by the weekend or I will ring the police and tell mum”.

James’s face burst into a flood of tears and all he could say was “ok”.

Alice barely slept all night; her mind was in complete turmoil. She got up early and left for college before her mum or James appeared. She really couldn’t face being in their company today.

During lectures Alice had her phone turned off but switched it on at lunchtime as she was expecting a message from the café where she worked part time as a waitress to let her know when they wanted her in. A message was waiting from her mum asking if she was ok as she had left so early. She texted back to say “yes”. Next was a text from James. It read “sorry sis. Luv u. open your emails”.

Alice opened her emails and could see an attachment to a blank email from James that had been sent 3 hours earlier. She felt so sick pondering what the jpeg could be. She decided to go to the toilet and open it in there. The photo was taken by James on his webcam in his bedroom. In the background there was visible on his computer desk was an empty tablet bottle and in the foreground was James holding up his arms which clearly showed two slash marks on his wrists and blood pouring down his arms.

As she stared open mouthed at the screen, a tannoy announcement barked out “could Alice Read please come to reception immediately? It is extremely urgent”.


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