My sister is sitting in the middle of her double bed.
She is on her own, rocking back and forth, cross-legged, with her head in her hands.
She is drunk.
A sad, drunken and rather pathetic little island, sat on a crinkled and filthy bedspread surrounded by years gone by.
Photographs, birthday cards, certificates, letters and trinkets are piled everywhere, they enclose her in her misery, weaving in and out of her psyche causing tidal waves of pain, one after the other.
Why is she doing this to herself?
I hate watching this.
She needs to get a grip, she is better than this, this isn’t what I wanted.
Her world is caving in around her, and she is letting it.
There is nothing I can do to change it either.
My sister, as well as being quirky in a way I don’t quite understand, likes to live in the past, but who can blame her?
I want to scream and shake her but what would be the point?
The Damn Goo Goo Dolls.
‘They painted up your secret with the lies they told to you, and the least they ever gave you was the most you ever knew…’
I don’t know why I am even a tiny bit surprised.
Her all time favourite band, the songs and lyrics I was forced to listen to booming through my wall many, many, many times over the years.
‘…And I wonder where these dreams go when the world gets in your way, what’s the point in all this screaming, no one is listening anyway…’
I wonder if she remembers the time I kind of lost the plot after hearing Acoustic number 3 for the fiftieth time in a row.
I laugh out loud, I can’t help it.
What I wouldn’t give to remind her of that now over a pint.
‘Your voice is small and fading and your hiding here unknown…’
It was late and mum was away.
I knew arguing with her to turn it off, or down even, would be pointless, and I was in a foul mood as my car has been broken in to.
I mean wouldn’t you be?
She was miserable about another boy who had let her down and god that song was driving me insane!!
So I did what any big brother would do.
I burst through her door with a hand gun and fired a round off in to the ceiling.
‘And your mother loves your father cos she’s got nowhere to go…’
Well, that certainly got her attention.
In fairness though, I didn’t realise she wouldn’t have heard or seen me come in.
My intention was to be a bit James Bond like and make her laugh.
I assumed she would have seen me first.
‘And she wonders where these dreams go, cos the world got in her way, what’s the point in ever trying, nothing is changing anyway…’
But she was lying on her bed writing in her diary, with her back to the damn door.
She shit herself.
I mean she actually shit herself.
Thought someone was shooting at her.
It should have been funny.
How was I to know she was going to pass out and actually shit herself?
‘And they tried so hard to reach you but your falling anyway…’
We both laughed about it in the weeks following.
Not so much at the time though.
But that was us.
I bought her a pink Ipod for her birthday last year as a kind of an apology, got her some pretty decent headphones too, not that she ever used them, oh no, she went out and got herself a bloody big docking station.
Way louder than that shitty CD player with the cock eyed ariel that would crackle out the top 40, and scratch every CD you put in it. It actually used to be mine that, before she wrecked it with all those Smash hits stickers.
My bloody little sister.
‘And you know I see right through you cos the world gets in your way, what the point in all this screaming you’re not listening anyway…’
That wasn’t the last present I bought her though, the last present I ever bought her was a Scorpion pickled in Vodka.
She would have found it funny I know she would have, she would have just got it.
Someone else ended up passing it on to her in the end though.
‘This was the Christmas present he bought for you.’
I didn’t get to see her reaction.
I miss us.
She used to be so girly, I wonder when she stopped caring and did this to her space, to herself.
Painted everything black.
I lean against her desk and watch as she swigs from a bottle of white wine, flicking through letter after letter, photo after photo.
I just watch.
What else can I do?
And then I remember.
I reach up and touch the light bulb with the tip of my finger, just as I was told it would, the light flickers.
Her head shoots up.
She stares right at me, like a rabbit in headlights, her face red and wet, her eyes swollen and clouded by black make up and booze.
‘And I don’t want the world to see me cos I don’t think they’d understand, when everything is made to be broken I just want you to know who I am… ‘
I struggle to stay calm.
Our eyes meet.
I want to talk about it, I want to laugh, joke, shout, drink, explain, be…
‘I know you are here’ she slurs in to the half-light of the empty room.
I listen for more.
She shakes her head.
I sit on the floor with my back resting against the edge of her bed, my back to her and I know that is all I am getting tonight.
I will stay as long as I am needed.
I will just be here.
Downstairs the streetlights just beyond the tiny back garden have come on.
Brian is walking his dog down the alley, lost in thought. The train platform was hot and crushed tonight and it freaked him out. He is tired of this now, he needs to quit this awful job.
Kevin is still sitting at his desk, counting down the minutes until his shift ends and he can get home to his Xbox. He has a new game and tonight he intends to reach the last level and beyond. He knows he should go out, but he can’t be bothered, no one likes him anyway.
Susan is in the kitchen; her two year old playing in the living room, she is wondering as she takes the fish out of the oven, whether tonight will be the night she gets pregnant again. She is hopeful.
Life goes on around us as we sit there together, alone, consumed by our pain.
At some point, I notice she has quietened down and is drifting off to sleep.
No more Goo Goo Dolls tonight.
It is time for me to go.
I get up and press shuffle on the Ipod.
Walking in Memphis.
‘Put on my blue suede shoes and I boarded the plane…’
‘Thanks Jake,’ she mumbles incoherently, and as I turn to leave she laughs and shakes her head. ‘Dickhead.’
And I smile.
Because that’s us.