The boy sitting next to her on the warm, sun-baked tiles was already so much more than she could ever be. Life had bumped, bruised and battered him, but it molded him into this infinite human being. She was certain that even if she were to spend the rest of her life with him, she could never be able to say she knew him completely. She was not sure whether she could ever come to terms with this.
“How many times have you been in juvie?” she finally found words, except they weren’t the ones that meant enough.
He shook his head, “More times than I would like to admit.”
She was actually hoping for a number, not another ambiguous answer.
“I would like to blame it all on my brother,” he said, “but there comes a time when you make your own decisions. You can’t continuously blame others for your mistakes.”
“But his actions and influence lead to you making those mistakes,” she pointed out.
“Maybe,” he conceded, “but I could have changed at any point after that moment, but I didn’t. I got sucked in deeper and deeper into a world that only cared about their own insatiable desires.”
Jeremy was dead.
He did not tell her that night, but looking back, she always knew. His death, and the circumstances around it, was the real reason he did not speak about him. The disappointment in his brother weighed heavier on his heart than the sadness of the death.
Disappointment often feels like a greater load to bear compared to sadness. Sadness can wash over you suddenly with a shock of abruptness. You learn to live with it because sometimes, it never goes away completely and you grow accustomed to the emotion. But disappointment varies greatly. When an expectation, so highly set, is not met, or worse, completely devastated, the happiness, pride, excitement all crash down with it. Happiness and sadness rarely collate, but elation and disappointment go hand-in-hand.
She did not expect him to continue, but he did, “My brother was too much like my father,” he said, “Their happiness depended on substances rather than on themselves. They couldn’t be happy unless they were suffering.”
“And what about you?” she dared to ask.
He stared at her, his deep hazel eyes boring holes through her soul, “Do I seem as if I’m suffering?”
Yes, she felt tempted to say.
Unlike his brother and father, he suffered from a tormented mind. Just as his brother’s physical anguish lead to death, so too could his mental anxieties. She knew all of this, and her biggest regret was, that night, she said nothing.