"Being a good writer is 3% talent, 97% not being distracted by the internet." Cyrus Farivar

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Cain and Abel Part II

          Throughout the time people milled about our house, they would glance furtively at Becca and I as we perched on the top stairs. They whispered their apologies to mom and Casey before reminiscing of our Grandma. My eyes followed them as they each walked by occasionally, unable to meet our gaze.
          People said she died because of her big heart. Others said it was the second heart attack and her very active lifestyle. The real reason why Grandma died was on everyone’s mind. All the stress and worry over Becca and I is what finally killed her. She had seen how our mom was, and knew it was unfair that we suffered.
          Eventually the people ceased to come throughout the day and we cleaned up. My mind wandered back to the funeral earlier this morning and how perfect it was; taken straight out of a storybook. We each had our duties and lines to say, all created by our mom. This included Casey, who wasn’t even related to the family, just our fatherly stand-in; her companion.
          Pulling a chair from the dinner table I sat down as our mom served dinner. Her cheery exterior was all a ruse, another scene in her scripted life. She glanced at us, waiting for our lines to follow as she led us through this nightly routine. Some nights we would be working on this movie scene for hours until we got it right. We were her very own cast; her puppets. Her parrots; trained and knowing exactly what to say every single time.
          I casually pushed my food around my dish, not really feeling at all hungry. Her eyes must have settled on me as I blandly went through my lines, not at all wanting to put any emotion in it. The day had been long and draining; nothing would have made me want to act out her perfect family. Those eyes were now burning into me; I could feel them without needing to look up.
          Casey cleared his throat, wanting to take the attention off me. “Not tonight honey, we’re all just ready for some quiet,” he said before taking a bite of his food. I sensed she fixed her expertly tuned glare on him as I glanced up and saw him shift in his seat for a moment before taking a drink of water.
          “I want to hear him say his lines,” she said, teeth almost clenched.
          “Can I be excused?” I looked to Casey, knowing I’d get the answer I wanted from him.
          “Of cour—“ he started.
          “No, he can’t. No one can leave the table until we do this right!”
          “Honey, come on, we’re tired and he’s don—“
          “I don’t care if you’re tired! We do this right; it’s how it’s supposed to work!” Setting my fork down firmly, I leaned back in my chair, glancing at Becca who averted her gaze. I said my lines over and over again until they were accepted. Pushing back my seat, I got up and left the table as Becca trailed behind.
          “Night Liam,” she whispered, peeking at me before slipping into her room.
          “Night,” I murmured, pressing open my door. It closed with a soft click as I moved forwards and sat at my desk. The surface was very bare, only holding a few books, a desk lamp and some pens and pencils neatly arranged. In the very center of it sat a bible. My fingers caressed its glossy cover and embossed lettering before moving to the pages. Flipping it open gently I gazed at the first few pages to see my name and the note from my Grandma.
          A smile formed on my face as I remembered the day she gave it to me. Laughing quietly to myself I turned a few more pages till I found that sermon from so long ago. This lesson always stuck with me, even after six years of having heard it. My eyes skimmed over the names, Cain and Abel. What a sign they were. The instant we were finished learning I began asking questions even the Sunday school teacher couldn’t answer despite her vast reaches of knowledge.
          Cain killed Abel out of jealousy, but I knew there had to be more. Being brothers, Abel had to have done something additional than just getting more attention. I was jealous that Becca got all the attention after she was born, but not jealous enough to kill her. Abel pushed his brother to do the unthinkable. I could understand Cain’s mind-set. He and I would have gotten along just fine. Closing the book I grinned as I got into bed.
* * * * *
          We barely spoke to each other. As much as my mom tried, I wouldn’t respond except to answer my lines at dinner. It was sometime after the funeral that we started staying home more, and continued with my mom’s fantasies for her next script. Two whole weeks would pass before we returned to school, and even then already we were starting to prepare for summer. I cringed at the very thought of being stuck home for two and a half months.
          Today was another scorching day to fry an egg on the sidewalk. Both Becca and I remained at home per our mother’s request, despite Casey’s pleading. I crouched in the grass below the deck as I waited for Becca. Above, Casey was trying to persuade mom to let us return to school after having only come back for a week.
          “Come on Brenda, they need to actually finish the school year,” he said, watching her from his seat. I could imagine her face frowning in anger and frustration as she paced before him.
          “No, we’re going to finish this, and finish it right the first time, Casey,” she hissed, shooting a glare at him. Her footsteps finally ceased somewhere on the opposite end of the deck. Hearing his chair shift I could tell he had gotten up and crossed the short distance between them.
          “Please, just give them some time with their friends before school ends,” he pleaded. I figured by now he was hugging her from behind, trying to be more convincing.
          “I need to get back to work,” Brenda said, pulling away from him. I listened as she heaved open the sliding glass door and entered the house. It closed slowly behind her before sealing shut.
          I looked up, seeing Becca come around the corner of the house. She had met me like I asked, and came up the small grassy hill to where I sat.
          “What did you want to show me, Liam?” Taking her wrist I pulled her to sit next to me and gestured for her to be quiet. Becca pursed her lips, looking at me quizzically. Just as she did so, I heard the sliding glass door open just a bit.
          “Casey, the house smells funny… I can’t figure out why,” I heard our mom say. Standing up carefully I stood and peeked over the lip of the deck.
          “What do you mean it ‘smells funny’?” He approached her, a confused look on his face. My eyes widened seeing that this was not how I had planned. Running up the knoll a bit I called out his name as the door slid shut behind him.
          “Casey! No! Get out of there!” I shouted as much as I could but he glanced at me, waving before turning and disappearing from my view. Taking another step the house suddenly exploded in a bright ball of flame, its force sending me on my back. Glass from the windows hurtled outwards, littering the deck with debris. Becca screamed, covering her head and ears, unsure as to what just occurred.
          Sitting up, my eyes scanned the house, seeing it engulfed flames. I had only suffered one loss, and that was Casey. It was over. I had liberated us both. Looking over the scene, I smirked, sitting back in the grass as the flames continued to lick at the painted wood and the personal contents of our home.
          As Cain I had killed my Abel.

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