Viva La Vida.
It came over me quickly.
One minute I was lying on the living room floor, struggling to build a Nasa space rocket out of lego, having fun with Addy, like any other typical saturday evening, and the next, everything had shifted.
That is literally the only word that fits what happened.
And it happened so forcefully, it’s kind of left me a little dazed.
There was a knock on the window, signalling somebody was at the door.
Both Addy and I stopped our laborious building and with some surprise, turned our heads towards the window.
At the exact same moment The Irish One noisily thundered down the stairs at speed, like you would if someone was at the door unexpectedly, belting out a token ‘Who could this be?’
He opened the front door with a flourish.
The fruuuooossssh of sound as the bristles attached to the bottom of the door swept across the laminate flooring dangerously close to my head, was real.
The cold air hitting my face as the door was opened, letting in not only the night air but the gilded light from the street lamps outside, made me sit up quickly.
It was at that moment my heart filled to the absolute brim and I was overcome with… something.
A feeling I don’t really know how to describe.
It wasn’t relief, as relief didn’t feel appropriate.
Yes warmth, warmth is the right word.
A warmth I haven’t felt for a very very long time.
A very powerful and overpowering warmth.
A warmth I miss.
I knew who it was.
Some deep part of me had registered who it was, milliseconds prior to there even being a rap on the window.
A smile that emanated from my soul, rippled out, encompassing my whole being, slowly and precisely took over my face, I felt it there so real, I wanted to lift my hand to my cheek to check.
‘Oh,’ The Irish one mumbled ‘it’s only your brother.’
‘Charming!’ came the vibrant response as he stepped in and the door was shut behind him.
I felt the floor vibrate as it slammed shut, I heard the bristles again, was aware of every single sound, every single smell, absorbing every moment.
‘Hey’ i heard myself say completely nonchalantly, ‘You want a cuppa?’
I watched him as he wandered passed Addy, taking in the lego, the scene of domestic chaos, smiling his infectious smile.
‘Just popping in on my way to work, to see my favourite nephew.’
This is where I stood up to go bang the kettle on, knowing this ritual.
Knowing this ritual.
He says no, I make him one anyway.
And he, taking over the room with his welcomed presence, like always, throws himself backwards on to the couch and says ‘Whats behind number 4, Addy Door?’
Addison jumps up and runs towards him, brandishing a lego train, a shrieking tickle fight ensues.
I have no idea why he would say this, but I actually heard him say this.
What’s behind number 4 Addy door?
It was so normal.
It felt so natural, almost mundane.
….no no no, stay in the moment, stay in the moment…
And I am back.
My elbow is sore from lying tense at a funny angle, I have not moved, Addison is staring at me curiously.
I try to zone out again, remaining completely immobile, barely daring to breathe, wanting so desperately to cling on and immerse myself back in to this alternate reality, if only to see what happens next.
I mean I could actually hear him, I can still smell him, I mean, I can actually still smell him.
Like watching a film, living a photo reel.
I cling on, try to struggle back for as long as I can, and then reluctantly and with a small sigh, I let go.
I turn my head slowly towards the couch.
A small beam of deluded hope catching my breath.
It is empty.
Of course it is empty.
‘You’ve broken our rocket.’
I look down in to my hands and through blurry tears, see that he is right.
I sit up, swallowing it all down.
Somewhere between the front door opening and my dead brother sitting down for a cup of tea, so mundane, I have in fact lost contact with the lunar module. It is sitting dejectedly in three pieces on the floor.
‘Never mind, I can build it again.’
I shake my head in disbelief, still feeling the warmth, now mingled with acute sorrow, and limber up my mummy muscles.
‘It’s ok Addy! It wasn’t moon ready! Do you think we need longer landing legs?’
The next few hours pass in a blink of building, dropping, frustration (bloody lego!) and imagination.
Could it be possible though, do you think?
That in an alternative life somewhere, my brother stopping by for a bru on a saturday night, could really be that mundane, that utterly joyous?
… I mean, I could actually feel his presence.
It can only have been seconds…
Or could it be something as mundane as medication, messing with my hormone levels, sending crazy signals to broken wiring.
Either way, it has got me contemplating, while pulling tiny embedded pieces of lego out of my arse cheeks, in an effort to tidy up every single piece, what if we all have different versions of ourselves, living alternative lives somewhere, based on different choices we all made in the past?
What if somewhere, right now, he is still sitting on my couch, burning his lip on my weak tea?
What if I had gone to him ten years ago, when he rang, instead of choosing to live in denial, as I didn’t know how to deal?
What if I hadn’t pushed him away, just as hard as he pushed me?
What if I had known?
What if I had acted like a sister, instead of…
I don’t suppose any of it matters now really, does it?
Because I live in this life.
And in this life, he is dead, and always will be.
I didn’t go when he rang.
I can’t ever change that.
He won’t ever plonk himself down on my couch and play rough and tumble with his nephew will he?
There will never be a knock on the window.
I need to turn off Polar Express and put a wash on.
I also need to stop standing on lego!
My feet are in pieces.
I can still feel the warmth he brought in with him though, and maybe that is all that matters.
Maybe that is all that matters.
‘One minute I held the key, next the walls were closed on me. And I discovered my castles stand, on pillars of salt, and pillars of sand.‘ – Viva La Vida, Coldplay.