(for a definition of Flash Fiction, see FF*: The River)
He told me I wouldn’t understand, in that dismissive tone that meant he didn’t care whether I understood, because he wasn’t about to explain. This time, though, I sat on the heavy green couch and focused my eyes on the big gold buttons that bound up the seams together, tight.
This time, I looked up from the couch and said, “Try me.”
There was a strange silence. Like he had plunged into deep water. But only a second passed before he came up for air and said he was sorry, he needed to go.
As if I needed him to stay.
This was my brother, the man for whom I had dropped everything, the man who claimed that – despite our eternal side-by-side existence – I could not understand.
“You’re an idiot,” I said.
He stopped. I covered my face in an involuntary way that somehow felt stale even as my hands moved of their own accord over my eyes. I guessed he would take me for pathetic, desperate, just the way I felt. If he were wise, he would see I was a fraud.
But my brother did not see me this way. He said again, “I’m sorry” and this time it was slower, more an involuntary tumbling-forth, a gentle, inevitable wave rolling out of his voice box.
He came across the room then and sat on the couch next to me. Not close enough for our jeans to brush, but close enough.