“You still have soap in your hair. Wash it out, towel off, and meet me in the living room. We’ll figure out the food another day.”
I stood up and left. When I hit the living room, my eyes fell to the baggie of cocaine on the table. “Fuck…” I whispered, snapping my band.
Focus. This isn’t your life. This isn’t your story.
Dr. Khan said after I left rehab, moments would come up when I’d find myself seconds from stepping back on the hamster wheel of my past, but then he’d say that it wasn’t my story anymore.
My hands were sweaty, and I took a seat on the couch. I didn’t know when it happened, but somehow the baggie of cocaine was in my hands. I closed my eyes, taking in a few deep breaths. My chest was on fire, my mind wild. Being back in town was too much for me, but leaving Kellan wasn’t an option.
How was I going to survive?
“Look, we are going to be late—” Erika came barging into the apartment and paused, seeing me with the cocaine in my grip. I quickly glanced back and forth to the cocaine and Erika. She sighed. “Figures.”
She turned on her heels and hurried out of the room. Shit. With haste, I followed her, calling her name, but she ignored me the whole way to the car. Once we were inside, she revved up the engine and pulled away from the curb. A few minutes passed with no words exchanged.
“Listen, what you saw up there,” I started, but she shook her head.
“Erika, it’s not what you think.”
“I can’t do this, Logan. I can’t. I can’t be the one driving you around to go on these joy rides. I can’t watch you disappoint your brother.”
“I’m not using.”
Tossing my hands up in defeat, I released a weighted sigh. “I don’t even know how to remotely talk to you.”
“Fine. I won’t.”
Erika’s fingers were gripped tightly around the steering wheel and I watched as her air freshener swung back and forth on her rear-view mirror.
“He’s sick, and he’s trying to not show his worry about you or your mom, but he’s terrified. I think we need to face reality, and the reality is I just saw you with drugs in your hand. The last thing Kellan needs is for you to stress him out more.”
“What goes on in your head? You make up all of these crazy stories and judge people for things that never happened. You are a lot like your messed up mother, you know that?”
She pulled up to the restaurant and put the car into park. With one harsh tone she turned to me and said, “And you are a carbon copy of yours.”
“I am nothing like my mom!” I whisper-hissed, chasing Erika into Jacob’s restaurant.
“I saw you!” she whisper-hissed back, poking me hard in my chest. “I saw you, Logan!”
“You think you saw something but you didn’t. I wasn’t going to.”
“Don’t lie to me, you jerk! How could you?! You promised! You promised!”
Before I could reply, Kellan walked over.
“What took you guys so long?” he asked. Erika had her frown glued to her face, but forced it to change directions when she saw the worry in her fiancé’s eyes.
“I just had to make a stop on the way,” she said, kissing his cheek. “But we are here! And I can’t wait to watch you perform!”
Kellan’s stare moved over to me, and his worrisome eyes remained. I slightly shrugged my shoulders, unable to ever truly lie to my brother.
His brows lowered with understanding. He nodded toward the front door. “You want to go get some air with me, Lo? My set doesn’t start for another fifteen minutes.”
“Yeah, for sure,” I replied. My hands were stuffed into my jeans pockets, still in fists from the way Erika spoke to me in the car minutes before. I couldn’t even truly be mad at her about it, though. The person I was when I left town years ago, was the only person she ever knew me to be. In her eyes, I was the drug addicted asshole who screwed up their lives and broke her sister’s heart when I never called back. In her eyes, I was the jerk who almost killed Kellan and Alyssa the night I was messed up and took the wheel into my hand. I was the person who was responsible for Alyssa losing our child. In Erika’s eyes, I was Alyssa’s and Kellan’s baggage that they both deserved to unload.
In her eyes, I was the me that I’d tried so hard to never become again.
Kellan and I stepped outside, and the chill of the fall night hit our faces quickly. He leaned against the brick wall of the bar, with his left foot resting against the stones and his eyes closed, as his head tilted toward the sky. I reached into my pocket for a cigarette, and paused.
I leaned against the wall beside him. “How are you holding up?” I asked, pulling out my lighter and flicking it on and off.
He opened his eyes, and I saw his fight to hold the tears back. “I was practicing the guitar, and my hand started to tremble. The other day it happened too, and my hands wouldn’t stop shaking. I think it’s all in my head, because I’m afraid of the chemotherapy. I’ve read a lot online about chemo brain. That’s where a person kind of loses some cognitive functions. So I might not even be able to play the guitar anymore. Or write lyrics. I mean…” He bit his bottom lip and inhaled deeply. My tough, always strong brother was slowly cracking. And I couldn’t do anything about it. “I mean…music…that’s me. That’s my life. I spent so much time running away from it though, and now if I can’t play the guitar…”
“I’ll play for you,” I said, and meant it.
He snickered. “You don’t have a musical bone in your whole freaking body, Logan.”
“I can learn. And hell, remember when you learned to cook after my dad broke my hand?”
“When I made the turkey for Thanksgiving that one year?”
I chuckled. “And you yelled, ‘Who knew a damn turkey needed to be thawed for more than four hours?!’ as you tried to cut into it.”
“But seriously! Who knew that?”
“Um, everyone with a brain? I mean, to give you credit, I’d never seen a turkey that was completely burnt on the outside and completely raw inside. That takes talent. What did Ma say about it?” I asked, remembering the few good memories we’d shared.