”All I know is if I’m stuck here with you guys any longer, I’m gonna lose it.” She says out loud.
”Like you could go anywhere without us.” The other says with a chuckle.
Their voice is basically the same. The difference being that the other’s is deeper. Surer. More assertive.
”Breathe.” The first sighs to herself.
One breath; two. It’s working – until it’s not. Now she’s sobbing. A tear rolls down her left cheek downwards but in a tilting way so it touches her upper lip. She sniffles then she licks the teardrop off of her upper lip.
”Hm. Salty.” It’s basically the same voice again but this time, it’s humourous.
Her hand wipes off the trail that the teardrop left on her cheek.
”What did you expect, idiot?” She chuckles and rolls her eyes. ”She’s right. You’re all driving me nuts.” It’s that assertive voice again.
”Nuts is better. You’re not the one in the corner cowering in fear.” The humourous voice comes.
We’re interrupted by a banging on the door. I’m startled yet they’re not.
”Guy! I’m on the phone.” I yell knowing who’s at the door. ”How many times will I tell you to stop knocking like you want to break down the door?” I exclaim.
”Well, you’re asleep through most of the day.” My brother replies. ”I just always need to make sure you can hear me.”
I kiss my teeth.
”What do you want?”
”Do you want to play Ludo?” He asks.
I take a moment to process the information. They know I don’t like all that hanging out stuff. My silence is most likely his cue to give me a reason I got an invite.
”Mommy said she’s not playing anymore and there’s just three of us.” He explains. ”We prefer if all the houses are taken.”
It’s a good enough plea for me. I haven’t actually had any fun with my family since the lockdown started. I have a chance to ease my guilt delivered to me on a platter. I’ll take it!
”Fine! I’m coming. Let me just end this call.” I accept the invite.
He doesn’t say anything. I hear footsteps retreating as that convinced me he’s gone.
”I need you guys to behave.” I say rather than beg as usual.
”Or else what?” The assertive one chuckles.
”See what I mean?” The humourous one laughs. ”Cowering in fear.”
”Or else I’ll end it.” I stammer. ”I’ll go down and take all of you with me.
”You wouldn’t dare.” Comes a whisper.
I can’t decipher who spoke, but it doesn’t matter.
”You might be me, but I’m more me than you all ever will be.” There’s more assurance in my voice than I’ve heard in a long time.
The silence that follows tells me they heard it too. I’m not living in the fear of myself for today. Other people need me. Besides, let them have a taste of what it’s like to live in the fear of me.
”Good.” I smile to myself.
I pick my phone up and get off of the floor. I make my way to the door and pop my head out as I open it. I see my brother headed down the corridor in my direction.
”Torh!” He exclaims as we do in my family. ”I was just coming to ask if you’re still playing since you refused to come out.”
I hear giggling in my head as I smile. I’m an inch away from concern when I decide that it’s better in my head than out my mouth. I’m one for celebrating the small wins so I’ll take it.