Aiden

Our life started to feel like a quiet backwater. Work, home, drawing practice, my brother Brent. We spend a lot of time together, talk more. I was not eager to find new friends, although at work everyone treated me well. Especially after they found out that I could draw. They often asked me to draw a portrait, which I did with pleasure. All for practice.

But I didn't go further than that. I desperately wanted to trust. And Brent was the only one I could trust.

And I kept thinking about Jack. When the thoughts became especially strong, I drew his face from memory. And then I tore the drawing up. It seemed to me that this way I would draw him out from myself.

But two months have passed, and I've been painting his portraits still... When will this pass? After all, it must pass. I haven't seen him for a long time. Nothing reminds of him. But still I can't forget.

Brent and I go out for a walk in a park. Under my feet, I see colorful leaves for a still life, so I begin to collect them with enthusiasm. Brent is standing by.

And then something suddenly changes in the air. I feel the tension. First, I squint at my brother and notice that he is looking somewhere ahead. Then I raise my head.

It feels like an electrical discharge. And at first I don't believe. I wouldn't have believed it if Brent hadn't been here with me. We couldn't imagine the same thing at the same time.

This is Jack... Only fifty paces away from me. But he looks at me and immediately turns away... And I... I... This... what was that?

Another second, and I would have run after him.

Wait a minute…. wait a minute…

He was not alone...

I can't stop this feeling. Too fast and too much. I can't stand it.

I just want to leave as soon as possible, but it feels like my feet are rooted to the ground.

I don't even immediately hear the phone in my pocket.

It's from work.

I need to catch my breath. Maybe it's for the best. At home, I'll climb the walls.

"This is from work. One waitress called sick, they ask me to replace her. I'll go," I say to Brent. He worries, I see, but his presence now makes me feel worse.

So I am leaving.

On the way, I try to chase away only one thought, but it runs after me.

Jack was with someone else.

Jack was with a guy. And this guy seemed familiar to me, but I could not see him clearly.

Jack didn't come up to me, didn't say anything, he just left with him.

I try to escape from this thought and after ten minutes I find myself at the cafe. I put on an apron and a different countenance. It's a little easier here.

Order after order, and then I see a customer calling me at the bar. Um... it's Sean... our bartender.

And opposite him... it's Jack...

I saw them about an hour ago.

Another shock hits me. They are drinking, celebrating… or I don't know… I'm eyeing Jack again.

"By the way, this is Aiden," suddenly Sean introduces me to Jack. "He is our artist. Remember? I showed you the portrait, he did it. This is Jack. He is a bit off for a portrait now, "Sean jokes, but none of us laughs. "Can you bring a burger or something, please? Otherwise I will have to carry him home."

I just nod and walk away. I go to the kitchen, taking off my apron as I go, go out the back door straight into the street and run away from the cafe. I run home until I have a side cramp.

And at the very house I understand that I can't... Brent will see me, questions will rise again... I won't stand it.

At the store, I ask the two men in front to buy me a bottle of liquor.

"It's for my mother's birthday," I'm lying, but they nod. I give them the money and take the bottle on the way out. I wander into the park further away, sit under a bridge close to the water...

And I drink.

Jack and Sean... they might have been together for all this time... living together...

Why don't tears bring relief? Why do thoughts pour down, as if in an hourglass, and turn into heavy feelings?

I finish my liquor, but I can't move. It's getting dark quickly. And I'm cold.

This place is not that bad for sleeping. And if I'm lucky, I won't wake up at all.

But then I remember Brent. I promised him...

I get to my feet and wander home. I come back after midnight.

Brent is awake, and when I enter the room he meets me with worried look.

It's warm here, all my self-control instantly melts.

I can't take it anymore...

Brent sits down next to me and puts his arm around my shoulder. Why is he doing this? I can't hold

it all inside.

Words burst from within. At least someone will listen to me.

"It's all so stupid, I'm such a... Me and Jack... I just can't get him out of my head. He was the first... I just... He is... so stupid... Do you know where he lives?"

"No."

"Then, on the farm, he decided to leave. Or did you say something to him?.. He took it lightly. He found the kid to have a good time... one kiss and I was out of my mind..."

I am losing the thread, losing my last strength, I am falling asleep.

Everything disappears.