“Can you just answer one question?” Amy asks as she applies makeup, squinting at herself in the well-lit mirror in her bedroom.
I lie back on her bed and close my eyes, already figuring the reason why she’s asking such a question.
“You’re asking because the boys are out, right?” I ask back. “Let me guess, you want to ask why Nathan feels the need to be so disrespectful to our oldest brother.”
“So, I’m not the only one noticing that?” Amy asks, neither confirming nor rejecting my guess. “Marie, how can he dare act like that? He used to be so much sweeter.”
I open my eyes and stare at the plain white ceiling. Just like me, Amy chose not to paint her walls, ceilings, and floors.
“People change, Amy,” I say. “You’re a writer. Some dramatic event can totally crush a person and make them change, no matter how sweet that person is. Tragedy can make anyone distant, even towards family.”
“And what stupid event changed his life?” Amy asks, delicately applying mascara.
If today was not her wedding day, i would have strangled her. Calling a lifechanging tragic event stupid feels like some deep personal insult.
I sit up, and when I see Amy still applying makeup, I only wonder what the boys and her husband-to-be are doing right now.
“Remember when Mother and Father were fighting – just a few days after the six of us celebrated Nathan’s and my birthday?”
Amy makes one tiny wrong move, but it’s enough for her to curse.
“You… still remember that?” she asks.
She was the one that opened the door. If she hadn’t opened the door, maybe we wouldn’t have seen Mother’s crying face or Father throwing everything he could get at her.
Maybe we wouldn’t have seen that smile.
“Of course,” I say with a sort of sad smile but secretly enjoying this guilt trap Amy fell straight into.
Because of her, my brother was shattered, his heart broken into thousands of pieces he still can’t put together.
She turns around with renewed interest.
“Then it was because of that?” she asks.
That smile Junior flashed was what killed Nathan. I never paid attention to the emotion and feeling behind that smile as a child when I first saw it. It was just one of Junior’s many smiles he so casually gave.
But Nathan saw something else. He saw the meaning behind it, understood in perfect clarity the true emotion of the man – no, a mere boy – hiding behind a smiling mask.
He hid that information like a precious secret he would take to the grave.
I only found out when we were sixteen.
he had broken down, sobbing, too overwhelmed by the shower of smiles Junior gives for reassurance, but apparently, Nathan had been able to see through those lies and see the stress and emptiness and loneliness.
Personally, he saw it as an offensive lie, to tell his siblings everything would be alright when everything wasn’t.
“Oh, I don’t know,” I reply to Amy. “Just a simple guess.”
Amy sighs and turns back to the mirror to fix her makeup.
It’s not like I’d give that precious secret away anyway. My own twin brother confided in me, and I wasn’t about to shatter our relationship.