All right my lovelies, here is a little something I have been working on for the past couple of days. A few months ago I was writing a story called The Glory Box, but the well of ideas for that particular fic has more or less dried up. I really have no idea where it's going, so I think it's just a good idea to leave it be. Instead, I'm recycling just about the whole thing for this new fic, Crash And Burn - it's a spin-off to one of my completed fics, Never To Leave Me - if you haven't yet read NTLM, I'd advise you to do so before reading this one. I'd hate for you all to be confused. I may continue posting it here bit by bit if you all like it and approve :) Enjoy!
Christmas Eve 2003
“Ebony?” I asked as I came downstairs, feeling my way carefully through the darkness. I had been going back to my bedroom from the bathroom when I’d heard the quiet sound of someone crying, or at least trying to disguise the fact. And really, when I considered that there was only one member of my family still living at home who would ever be up this late, there was only one person it could be.
Sure enough, sitting on the lounge, staring silently at the television with the sound muted, was Ebony, tears rolling steadily down her cheeks. She didn’t move an inch as I sat beside her and draped an arm around her shoulders. “You’re up late,” I said in an attempt to get her to talk to me. It was March, April, May and the beginning of June all over again, only this time it wasn’t me she was shutting out – it was everyone. Mum, Dad, our brothers and sisters, even our cousins. She had more or less completely shut down, refusing to speak to anyone. And there was nothing the rest of us could do or say that was going to bring her out of it. It hurt me the most to watch her slowly dying – our first Christmas without our brother was always going to be hard, we knew that. But Ebony seemed to be taking it harder than the rest of us. Not that I blamed her, really, but sometimes I just wished she would talk to me about it. Or at least someone other than her counsellor.
“I deserve this,” she said quietly.
I was taken aback. “Ebony, no,” I said. “Why would you say that?”
She didn’t say anything for a little while; I didn’t press her to speak, merely allowed her to think, or whatever it was she had to do before she started talking. I had almost given up on hearing her voice when she spoke. “I deserve to suffer because…” She sighed shakily and ran her hands through her hair, recently cut short after it had been accidentally set on fire. “He should never have suffered like that. It was…it was just wrong. It was cruel, unjust…if anyone deserved to go through it, it’s me.”
“I…I just wish that I could turn back time somehow, and bring him back. For all of our sakes.” She looked at me then, her eyes brimming with tears. “I need him, Aidan…the three of us, we were never meant to be apart. I know we weren’t; we were always supposed to be together.”
Again I said nothing. Instead, I allowed my gaze to travel across the far wall, coming to rest on a large framed photograph of we triplets, taken during our final year of high school. Ebony was in the middle, wearing her navy blue school blazer over her uniform, with her school council pin fastened to the left lapel of her blazer, her long dark hair woven into two neat plaits that rested on her shoulders; it had been quite a surprise to hear that Ebony had been elected one of the two Year 12 school representative council members for the 2001 school year, not least of all to Ebony herself. The three of us, in a word, had been known troublemakers. And flanking her were Taylor and I, our light blue school shirts (in our mother’s words) suspiciously bare of any official school badges, save for the official school emblem pinned to each of our collars. All three of us were smiling, completely unaware of the hell that awaited us just over the proverbial horizon.
Ebony’s belief that she, rather than Taylor, should have been the one going through hell got me thinking. What if it had been her, or even – though I hated to even consider it – me?
After receiving an assurance from Ebony that she would go to bed soon, I went back to my room, climbing up into my bed and shifting around a few times to find a comfortable spot. I still couldn’t bring myself to sleep in the bottom bunk, even though I knew it would be a sensible thing to do – there was less of a risk of serious injury, for one – but…I just wasn’t able to yet, knowing that it had belonged to my brother for almost as long as he’d been alive. I just needed a little more time to get used to the fact that he was never coming home. “Yeah, when Hell freezes over,” I mumbled as I drifted off to sleep.
* * *
I dragged myself upstairs to my room almost half an hour after Aidan had gone back to his room, though I didn’t go to bed. Instead, I sat down at my messy desk and flipped my laptop open. I needed to write something, get my thoughts out into my computer, instead of keeping them bottled up inside. I’d already tried that once, and while it worked for a little while it didn’t last for long. And while I didn’t really update my online journal much, just enough so everyone who read it knew I was still alive, I had bought a brand new journal and was writing in it almost religiously. My old journal was locked away in my bedside table, and I wore the key on a silver chain around my neck. Nobody but nobody had a snowball’s chance in Hell of getting their grubby hands on the book that held my thoughts, fears and dreams.
But this wasn’t something for my paper journal. Even though there was more of a chance for me to edit my thoughts as I typed, the words just seemed to flow more freely. Why, I wasn’t completely sure, but I was certainly glad of it. I gave myself a few moments to gather my thoughts, then I placed my fingertips on the keys and began to type.
* * *
It’s Christmas Eve today, and am I excited? No. Not even in the slightest. It is my first-ever Christmas without my brother, and it hurts like hell. I just wish I could sleep for the rest of December, just so I don’t have to deal with the pain.
He should be here right now. Nine months since my whole world was pretty much destroyed, and the pain is almost as intense as it was back in March. I suppose I just have to keep hoping that it’ll ease over time.
I still believe that it should have been me. I’m still not sure why I think that, but it’s always on my mind. And of course, that begs the ever-present question – what if it had been me? What would have been different? Well, one thing would definitely have been different – he’d still be alive. But still – I had always been stronger than him physically, but would I have been strong enough to face cancer and overcome it? I like to think I would have been. But in the grand scheme of things, I suppose nothing ever happens the way you’d like it to.