Black ink stained the pure white of the thick paper stacked and bound into a journal. Cruel words followed by longing wishes followed by hateful expressions clouded the pages. Finally, the journal shut for each tainted page was marked upon from beginning to end. Forebodingly it sat, waiting to be read under the dim light of the bedside lamp.
Pale scarred arms leading to thin steady hands balanced small round caplets, flipping them from side to side. The names printed on them varied as well as the size. A small smile flickered across boyish features as he made what would be perhaps his final decision.
Without another thought, he pushed the medication between his lips, washing it back with a sip of water. Within the pages of his journal, he had already said he goodbyes - one for each family member but whether they would care or not, he couldn't be sure.
Slumber was already beginning to pulling him under, so he exited the safety of the bathroom where he found his step-brother already burrowed into the adjacent bed. Words were not exchanged for the two had had a quarrel followed by a mutual match of the silent treatment while he made his way to his own bed.
Haze surrounded him and clouded out the subtle goodnight the other murmured tenderly, his back facing the boy.
Finally, peace engulfed him, driving him into endless darkness.
Creaks broke the silent night, and brother groaned as his sleep was broken as well. "What the hell are you doing over there?" Anger laced his voice, but when there was no response, he reached for the lamp switch. "Quite being immature-
Panic slithered through his body like a snake for alarm had bound his body to its place. Convulsions had taken control over the lean body, and when the tall stable boy found his feet, he hovered over the bed.
Blank was his mind as his hand reached out on its own to touch his step-brother's cheek only to snatch it away when the other's eyelids flickered, revealing clouded blue orbs for only seconds.
Thankfully, he was light for the boy lifted him in his arms and carried him up the stairs. The glow of the numbers on the microwave flashed past one o'clock in the morning, but the father of the convulsing innocent was still wake on the couch, face illuminated by the television.
"What are you doing?" The protective voice of the father boomed in the quiet room which prior had only been echoing with the soft drone of the television program.
"Help," the boy wheezed finding air scorching up his raw throat. Suddenly, his arms were empty. The boy quickly reminded the father of his weak heart condition for he had suffered from a heart attack only a few weeks before, and the still slightly shaking boy was returned.
"Call 911," voice wavering yet attempting to stay calm, "I'm going to wake your mother."
The boy did as he was told, and he snatched the phone and sunk into the couch with the suffering boy still in his arms. "What is your emergency?"
"My step-brother started convulsing, and his eyes were flickering." He proceeded to recite his address, and an ambulance was sent off. Ending the call, he peered down at the boy in his arms. He was pale; he, limp.
Sirens filled the night air, and the family watched as the ominously still teenager was strapped into a stretcher as a medic pressed her fingers to his neck. "No pulse," she murmured. Without hesitation, she moved down opening the buttons of nightshirt with nimble fingers. She pumped several times before breathing a heavy breath into him, and boy watched as the unconscious boy's chest was forced to expand.
Silent words were exchanged as the stretched was hurried into the ambulance and rushed to the hospital. The family sped after the vehicle, and the teenager idly wondered how the night had taken such a wild turn.
"Where is my son?" The booming protectiveness of the father's deep voice rumbled after marching up to the receptionist desk, but the women was obviously accustomed to frantic visitors for she neither flinched nor lifted her head to acknowledge the family.
"A doctor will be out to talk to you as soon as he is available."
So the family had no other choice than wait restlessly in the waiting room. While Mother and Father clung desperately to each other, praying that the hospitalized boy was alive, the teenager sat next to his mother. He sat, staring into the white wall without really seeing, visualizing the worst.
"He's dead," the words echoed in his mind. "We got into a fight and I'll never be able to apologize because he is dead."
"Can I see my boy?" asked the man softly, broken down by the look darkening the nurse's lines on her tired face. Father's words snapped the boy out of his daze, and he looked up to see that a nurse had approached the incomplete family.
"Sir, unfortunately, I am the bearer of bad news." The woman's voice was low and full of regret as she watch pain-stricken grief wash over the family's façade.
Father stayed by the passed son who remained limp and pale, holding the dead hand and pleading for him to wake once more.
But he did not.
"Sir, are you aware that your son had committed self-injury?" Lifting his tear-stained face, shock was evident on his face.
"He never- there were no
He was at a loss for words as he gazed down at his gaunt lifeless son, oblivious to the doctor who stood at the other side to the bed rolling up the sleeve of the paper gown. Bit by bit, thin scars were revealed all in a line yet some crossed over others. Begging for an end did no good for the marks showed no signs of concluding, and the physician frowned.
"Sir, I'm sorry to inform you that you son died tonight from no accident. When the medics, who brought him from your home, took notice to the scars when stripping of his night shirt, they instantly suspected a drug overdose. By the time he was transported, he was gone. The medication he took was already circulating, and pumping his stomach was useless."
A subtle anger plagued the sorrow mood. He had never seen the signs of a suicide from his son, or perhaps he was a thoughtless father who hadn't paid enough attention. Even though guilt haunted the man, he gritted his teeth; his only biological son had made no attempt to share his troubles with him no attempt to ask for help.
Merely existing in the house the trouble boy had once called a home, Mother sobbed at the image of her breathless son while she rocked her own teenage boy in her arms despite his age for he, nearly numb both physically and emotionally, stared off in a distant place unaware of the silent tears washing his cheeks.
Finally, when the hand he held no longer flushed with color but with ghastly paleness, Father stood from the plastic chair in which he sat, dropped the fingers which were no longer able to hold his own, and left the room unable to look back at the precious life that he lost.
Trembling fingers reached for the bound pages that rested, waiting for curious eyes, but when those eyes finally unleashed the secrets hidden from the rest of the world, and apparently for obvious reasons. The journal fell to the floor, and the boy barely registered that he dropped it. He neither moved to pick it up nor did his wondering orbs leave the page, stained with harsh words scribbled in elegant penmanship and dark crimson.
Finally, those same unsteady digits reached for the booklet once more, and he ran his hand over the unnatural color that clashed with the pureness of the page. Fingertips brushed over the impurities while the words read aloud in his head.
Suddenly, though he had known already but was afraid to admit to what that crimson was, he could no longer deny the realization. Blood. Blood covered nearly every inch of the page.
Quickly, he turned to the very first page, and a sigh of relief broke the silent room for he found it completely bare; however, the brief moment was broken when the next page was filled from top to bottom with black ink as well as several small blotches of crimson though it was less than the pages further on.
He couldn't understand; where had the bizarre thoughts come from? Skimming through page by page, the amount of staining blood increased with each flip. Finally, towards the very end of the journal, something caught his eye.
Take care of my father.
Was that all he had to say? Were those really his finally words? How cruel he was to tempt with pages filled to the brim, yet he had nothing to say besides a simply request as a farewell.
His anger was bitter-sweet; the next page held but a mere one word. Farewell with a shadow blood ended the final conversation between the brothers. Anger spiked once more; blood had been shed for his sake, and he threw the journal in rage. He found himself pacing the room, but he fell to his knees in utter confusion. Bewildering tears flowed free, following the contours of his face as he retrieved the handwritten book for the third time that evening, clutching it in his hands. Dawned upon him was the realization that the journal, hiding away the most secretive of thoughts, was his only connection left with his brother.
Something he refused to shared no matter how selfish the notion seemed, though his did remove the letters to Father and Mother for the journal, claiming that he found them under the boy's pillow instead of in a journal.
Years past, and the booklet never left the brother for he keep it with him always, bearing the burden of all the things of his brother's past. And when he gazed upon the headstone and his brother's final house though only the dirt roof posed as any proof no tears welled in his eyes.
His brother had made his decision, and although he could have been a great success one day, he could only hope that his brother was happy with his final conclusion.
Reflecting back on that darkest of depressing days, the brother could still recall the sadness that overwhelmed Father's face as he read the not from his only true biological son.
Dear Daddy, it had started, remember when Mommy passed away? You held my hand and made me strong which is why I'm telling you now that you need to be strong for me. You were the greatest thing in all my life you accepted me in every way possible and for that, I thank you. But, though you were the only steady constant in my life, I could not find it in myself to rely on you to carry my burdens. You were and always will be the greatest father, and I know that when find me, you'll wonder where you went wrong because that is the kind of father you are. But you must know that there were no flaws in the way that you raised me and treated me. Take care of her, he had written in reference to the brother's mother, she nothing but kindness and deserves all the wonders you once gave me and more. I love you, Papa.
Standing in the sanctuary of the bathroom where he had written his final entries, the boy was not able to bid his father farewell, and so he left the letter with a simple declaration of love from son to father.
Numb was Father as he stood in the kitchen on that cold dark day, reading the last of the words his son had prepared for him. Mother stood at his side, but he angled the paper in such a way that she would not be able to read it, clearly motioning that the words were for no eyes other than his own despite that fact that he who found the journal had already read the letter.
Dear Mother, I couldn't have chosen a better mother-in-law if I had tried. You make my father so happy which is all I ever wanted for him, and for that, I am so grateful. You've never tried to replace my mommy, but you still made a wonderful mother for me. Please take care of him when I'm no longer able to.
Mother, with one hand holding the letter and the other covering her mouth in attempt to muffle her cries, leaned heavily into her husband who gently soothed her with meaningless words.
Back in the cemetery, the brother, now grown and resting against the side of the headstone in the warm summer breeze, reread the worn pages of the journal.
"It wasn't supposed to be like this," Brother murmured, voice being carried with the wind. The grass that had grown over the dirt roof swayed in the wind with his words. "We were supposed to go to college together, you were supposed to help me fill out job applications considering you know me better than I know myself, and I was supposed to help you with your insecurities."
He knew every entry, he had analyzed each sentence in every way he could think of, and he had thought of every question he wanted to ask.
"I put my journal on the nightstand that night for you to find. I knew you would forever question my reasoning unless I left it there." The man shook his head as he imagined the voice of his brother.
Flipping to the first page with writing, he heard the sound of his own voice as he began to read.
"Another bruise appeared on my shoulder, probably from being pushed against the locker yesterday. My very own best and sometimes only friend has been really caught up in being popular that it seems that she has forgotten about me."
There was no blood on that page, but the next, the page that made the brother feel the guiltiest, but he read it aloud anyway.
"When my father said that he wanted to marry her, I was ecstatic perhaps for the wrong reasons. My feelings for him were completely out of line, but I let it consume me to the fullest, and now, he wants nothing to do with me. Not even a brotherly figure. I'm trying to make it better, but he is like everyone else. No one wants me; I don't belong anywhere anymore."
That was the very first entry that blood appeared.
"I didn't mean to make you bleed," the brother murmured twisting his fingers in the grass before continuing to further in the booklet.
"I did something that wasn't normal. When shaving, I paused to look the blade and ran the blade horizontally across my arm. In fascination, I watched as blood peaked through the open cut and rushed to be met with the white of the sink. As soon as I was realized what I had done, I put pressure on it to stop the bleeding. I felt better afterwards; it had made me feel something other than the dulling numbness."
The next entry was dated two days later.
"Am I not a good enough son? My father is trying to connect with her son, but when they come home, Father tells me of the fun they had; that made me wonder, does he not have fun with me, his real son? I did it again, and this time, I didn't stop it right away. The flow was faster, and I found myself smiling a real smile for the first time in a long time."
The dry crisp blood on the page was more plentiful than all previous pages.
"I'm beginning to crave it more; I think about it all the time, even at school. It's the one power I have over everything else in my life, and no can take that away from me. There are so many secrets in my life. School is hell; they wait for me after school where there is no one to protect me. They are smart though, leaving markings on places no one would see. Then when I go home, I get to be ignored. I wonder if anyone would even notice if I was gone if anyone would care."
That was the first time he wrote with a foreboding tone with an underlining of suicide.
Smiling as he babbled on to his brother, the grown man looked back, remembering the many times he had tried to imagining how his brother would have spoken the words he had written in the journal; however, the only thing he could visualize was the way his brother's body would coil as he screamed the words written within the journal out loud. But neither screaming nor comforting voice answered the brother.