What Might Kill Us

By: M.N. Forgy

To those who have lost someone.

It hurts to let go, but sometimes it hurts more to hold on.

The mattress dips beside me and I turn over on my side, the ugly brown sheets that feel more like steel wool than cotton, scrape along my skin, sending an uncomfortable shiver down my body. For as much money as my uncle claims to have, you’d think he’d buy better bedding. At the very least, hire someone to do it for him. I miss my old bed. I would fall onto it and would literally sink into a cloud of luxury. I rub the sheets in between my index finger and thumb. The abrasive feel making my nose scrunch with disgust. This is far from a fluffy cloud.

“Fuck,” Alvaro sighs as he rubs a hand down his face. Kicking his legs over the side of the bed, he just sits there, head bowed like he’s got something on his mind. I don’t know how he does it. He didn’t get in until three this morning from whatever it is he does for my uncle, the pale light shining through the sheer curtains on the window tells me it’s probably not even six a.m. yet. How is he up already?

“You okay?” I ask, my voice coming out louder than I expected in the small room. Startled, his shoulders jump before he turns and looks at me over his shoulder. His ink black hair falling in his eyes from lying on it, and a sharp jaw that could go for days. Looks like he hasn’t shaved in a few days either, giving just enough stubble to make any girl look twice.

“Yeah,” he says, “just, you know…can’t sleep.”

I smile, biting my lip as I scoot closer to him. “Well, I can think of something we can do that might make you tired.” I reach out and run my index finger lightly down his spine.

“Jesus, Anahi,” he spits, jumping up and stepping away from the bed as if I just offended him. “Is that all you ever think about?” What the hell is his problem? I silently question myself, watching as he grabs his clothes off the floor, dressing quickly and causing the dust that seems to always linger in the air here to fly off them, filling the space around him in a cloudy haze.

I push myself up and slide back to my side of bed. Sitting with my back against the headboard I can feel the tension in the room. Alvaro is changing. He’s becoming more like them. Like my uncle and his men. He turns, the disgusted look on his face − confirmation. He’s not the boy I fell in love with anymore. I pull the sheet up, plucking long threads from its edges with my fingers, using the rough material as a barrier between the two of us. Closing my eyes, I take a deep breath and find myself thinking about my mother for the first time in years. Her death the dividing point in my life. Before and After. And after all these years, words she said that then made little sense to me as a child, suddenly became clear.

“In every angel a devil smiles and in every devil an angel cries.” Her voice resonates through me, forcing chilling bumps to breakout across the surface of my olive colored skin as I recall the events that led us to this moment right here.

Not long after my mother died, my father married Alvaro’s mother, Serena. My father who had never been around much because he was always gone on business − even before my mother died − didn’t change his habits. Except now when he left on business, Serena, unlike my mother, went with him.

Whenever they were away, Alvaro and I were locked behind the gates of my father’s compound, which was fully equipped with a kitchen filled with every kind of food you could imagine, a game room with every system available, an outdoor swimming pool, a tennis court, a riding stable full of horses, and fifty fenced in acres to ride them. Alvaro was always left in charge and left with one important responsibility. To take care of me. And he did. He cooked for me, helped me with my online classes, tended to me if I got sick, comforted me when I was sad, spent time with me when I was lonely, and well, in time my ten-year old little mind and heart started seeing him as my prince charming and no longer as my older stepbrother. We grew close. Too close. At fifteen he was my first kiss and by the time I turned sixteen, he was my first…well, you know. And I was happy. But then it happened again. Death roared its ugly head and everything changed. My father died while away on a business trip in America, ripping my perfect world right from under me like a rug. And to top it off, Serena, Alvaro’s mother, who my father trusted with his estate, sold off everything. Keeping the money for herself she fled in the wind never to be seen again by anyone. Not even Alvaro. Looking back, that is the day Alvaro’s true colors began to come out.

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