04 - Soaked Pillow - P. Lisa
Taylor sat on the lid of the toilet, while the muffled sounds from the room above drifted through the floorboards. 'God Zac, why'd ya hafta say it?' he thought and suppressed another sob, as if anyone would hear.
"That was REAL cute today Zac. Was that cute? WAS THAT CUTE?!" he heard his dad saying. No, not saying, this was commanding.
Zac must have mumbled an answer, there was a pause and his dad started in again.
"DID we force you into this Zac? Did your parents force you into this? . . . I CAN'T HEAR YOU! Where's that big loud Zac now? Now say it once again, LOUDER!" The voice was jeering, and he knew it well.
"NO YOU DID NOT FORCE US INTO THIS!"
The sound of Zac's voice, the pain, the unhappiness, most of all the fear, the mortal fear moved him from the lid to the ground.
Laying on the unforgiving linoleum he wondered, 'Where IS the big loud Zac now? Ha, Where's the brave Taylor who'd defend him?'
It was 2 A.M. when Taylor awoke in a damp and clammy bundle on the bathroom floor. He had fallen asleep weeping silently shortly after Zac's tortured groans had subsided. That worried him too. Zac no longer screamed.
He made his way upstairs, carefully, so not to risk his father's rage. He skipped the 7th step, and lifted the doorknob to keep the hinges from squealing. He knew the routine.
There was Zac, on the floor. Floor? Zac has always laid in his bed after these. And Taylor would gladly take the trundle. He tiptoed over and gently turned Zac over.
It was the worst yet. He realized then why Zac was here on the floor, instead of curled up on the bottom bunk. For the first time he'd hit Zac in the face. Zac had fallen unconscious here.
This brought a new onslaught of tears with the realization that this time Dad hadn't gotten tired of beating Zac. And he had just gone to sleep!
Taylor sat on the wooden planks and cradled Zac, rocking, murmuring to himself, and occasionally patting Zac's cheeks. Look what he'd allowed to happen. Again. And this time maybe Zac wasn't coming back. He patted more.
Moaning, Zac came to. He was immediately shushed by a blurry vision of what seemed to be Taylor. Obeying he whispered, "Where's Dad?"
"Asleep" Taylor answered, "Stay here. I'll get a washcloth."
'Don't think I'll be moving for a while,' Zac mused.
After a bit, Taylor was back, and nursing his bruises.
"Isaac here?" Zac asked.
"Nope. He';s still gone. But he'll come back soon. Don't worry."
"Well I just thought that maybe…" Zac drifted off sheepishly.
"Yeah, maybe." Taylor softly replied. Isaac's exodus had affected them all, but it showed most on Zac, in more ways than one.
Taylor finished bandaging Zac and offered "Would you like to sleep in my bed?"
Nodding, Zac crawled in, while Taylor tried to pull out the trundle as quietly as possible.
The smell of his brother was comfortimg, and gave him a sense of security. Taylor always helped him out after these episodes, cleaned him up, consoled him. Taylor would always be there.
"I love you, man," he whispered, "Thanks."
He was surprised when Taylor got up, hugged him and kissed him on the cheek.
"I love you too, man," was all he said.
Zac felt his cheek. It was wet. 'Why is Taylor crying?' Too exhausted to dwell on the question he fell asleep, and dreamt of him and Taylor on a sunny beach where no one recognized them and their father thousands of miles away.
Taylor lay awake listening to his brother's breathing. 'At least he is breathing' Taylor reflected, 'How can he love me so much when I'm too big a coward to even stand up for him?'
He ran an angry fist across his eyes.
'Stop it. You'll soak his pillow,' was the last thing that crossed his mind.