Sometimes, on the really bad days, when I think about how I’ll never see my brother again, I think I’d rather be in Adam’s shoes.
But then there are moments when I hear how she speaks to him and the words she says to him, and I think, I’m lucky I’m not in his shoes. Because I still have a chance of being loved like that someday. And I feel bad for Adam, knowing the kind of love she has for him, and knowing that’s what he’s leaving behind. That has to be hard for him.
But that also means he was lucky enough to find her before his time was up. That has to make death a little more bearable, even if only by a fraction.
I return to the hallway and slide down to the floor, waiting for her laugh tonight, but it doesn’t come. I scoot closer to his door and further away from my father’s, wondering why tonight is different. Why tonight isn’t one of the happier visits.
“But I guess I’m also referring to our parents, for not understanding this,” I hear Adam say to her. “For not allowing me to have the one and only thing I want here with me.”
As soon as I realize that this is their good-bye, my heart breaks for her and it breaks for Adam, even though I don’t know either of them. I listen for a few more minutes until I hear him say, “Tell me something about yourself that no one else knows. Something I can keep for myself.”
I feel like these confessions should stay between the two of them. I feel like if I were to ever hear one of them, Adam wouldn’t be able to keep it for himself, because I would have it, too. Which is why I always stand up and walk away at these moments, even though I want to know her secrets more than I want to know anything else in the world.
I walk to the waiting area next to the elevators and take a seat. As soon as I sit down, the elevator doors open and Adam’s brother walks in. I know it’s his brother, and I know his name is Trey. I also know, simply based on the brief visits he makes with his brother, that I don’t like him. I’ve seen him pass her in the hall a couple of times, and I don’t like the way he turns around and watches her walk away.
He’s looking down at his watch, walking in a hurry toward the room she and Adam are saying their good-byes to each other in. I don’t want him to hear their confessions, and I don’t want him to interrupt their good-bye, so I catch myself following after him, asking him to stop. He rounds the corner to the hallway before he realizes I’m actually speaking to him. He turns around and eyes me up and down, sizing me up.
“Give them a few more minutes,” I say to him.
I can tell by the change in his eyes that I pissed him off when I said this. I didn’t mean to, but it seems like he’s the type of guy to get pissed off by almost anything.
“Who the hell are you?”
I immediately dislike him. I also don’t like that he looks so angry, because he’s obviously older than me and bigger than me and much, much meaner than me.
“Owen Gentry. I’m a friend of your brother’s,” I say, lying to him. “I just . . .” I point down the hallway toward the room she and Adam are in. “He needs a few more minutes with her.”
Trey doesn’t seem to give a shit how many minutes Adam needs with her. “Well, Owen Gentry, she’s got a plane to catch,” he says, agitated that I’m wasting his time. He continues down the hallway and walks into the room. I can hear her sobs now. It’s the first time I’ve ever heard her sob, and I can’t bear to hear it. I turn and walk back to the waiting area, feeling her and Adam’s pain in my own chest.
The next thing I hear are her pleas for more time and her “I love you”s as Trey is pulling her down the hallway by her arm.
I’ve never wanted to hurt someone so badly in my entire life.
“Stop,” Trey says to her, agitated that she’s still trying to get back to Adam’s room. He wraps his arm around her waist this time and pulls her to him so she can’t get away. “I’m sorry, but we have to go.”
She allows him to hold her and I know it’s only because she’s so broken right now. But the way his hands move down her back forces me to grip the arms of the chair I’m in so that I don’t physically pry him off of her. Her back is to me, which means he’s facing me now that he has his arms wrapped around her. The smallest smirk plays across his mouth when he notices the anger on my face, and then he winks at me.
The bastard just winked at me.
When the doors finally open and he releases her, she glances back toward Adam’s room. I can see her hesitation as Trey waits for her to step into the elevator first. She takes a step back, wanting to return to Adam. She’s scared because she knows she’ll never see him again if she steps into that elevator. She looks at Trey and says, “Please. Just let me say good-bye. One last time.” She’s whispering, because she knows if she tries to speak louder, her voice won’t work.
Trey shakes his head and says, “You already said good-bye. We have to go.”
He has no heart.
He holds the doors for her to step on, and she considers it. But then in the next second, she begins to take off in a sprint in the other direction. My heart smiles for her, because I want her to be able to say good-bye to him again. I know that’s what Adam would want, too. I know how much it would mean to him just to see her run back into his room one last time and give him one last kiss and allow him to say, “I’ll love you forever, even when I can’t,” just one last time.
I can see in Trey’s eyes that he has every intention of stopping her. He turns to run after her, to pull her back, but I’m suddenly in front of him, blocking him. He shoves me, and I punch him, which I know isn’t the right thing to do, but I do it anyway, knowing I’m about to get hit in return. But one punch is worth it, because it’ll give her enough time to get back to Adam’s room and tell him good-bye again.
As soon as his huge fist meets my jaw, I meet the floor.
Goddamn it, that hurt.
He steps over me to run after her. I grab his ankle and pull, watching as he falls to the ground. A nurse hears the commotion and comes running around the corner, just as he kicks me in the shoulder and tells me to fuck off. He’s on his feet again and running down the hall, and I’m standing now.
I’m almost back to my father’s room when I hear her say to Adam, “I’ll love you forever. Even when I shouldn’t.”