Not Meant To Be Broken

By: Cora Reilly


“Do you like it?” Zach asked as he set my suitcase down beside the sofa.

Pumpkin wriggled in my arms. I finally shut the apartment door before I put him down. He strode around the room as if he owned the place, rubbing his chin against the edge of every piece of furniture in his reach.

I gave Zach and Brian an apologizing look but they seemed more amused than angry about Pumpkin getting fur all over their sofa.

“It's really nice,” I said.

Zach grinned and gave Brian an I-told-you-so-look.

“Do you want to see your room?” my brother asked, smiling hopefully.

“That would be great.” I followed him into the long corridor. At the end of it was a window that filled the place with daylight. Five doors lined the walls.

“This door leads to my room and that's Zach's room. In between is our shared bathroom,” Brian explained, pointing at the three doors on my left side. I tried not to show my worry at the thought of sharing a bathroom with them.

“This is your room.” He pointed at the door across the corridor from his room.

Brian pushed open the door and took a few steps back to give me enough space to enter the room without touching him. A smile spread on my face as I stepped into the room. A huge window flooded everything with light and a king-sized bed was pressed against the wall below it. A wide wardrobe took up most of the left side. There was a desk beside the bed and a sofa on the remaining wall. The walls were beige and the bed-linen was purple. Brian must have bought it for me. Something warm spread in my body at the thought. I walked toward the window and chanced a look at the park below. “It's beautiful,” I said, tilting my head slightly to give Brian a grateful smile.

He shifted uncomfortably, still not moving from his spot in the doorway, my suitcases positioned next to his legs. Was he worried to scare me if he entered the room? “Can you put the suitcases on my bed?”

Brian hesitated but then he reached down and dragged my suitcases toward the bed before positioning them on top. We stood so close to each other that he could have touched me if he'd reached out. I lifted my head and met his eyes. Eyes so full of worry. I drew in a shaky breath and reached out, touching his upper arm for only a second. “Thank you,” I said before pulling my arm back. From the corner of my eye I saw Zach moving away from the doorway and out of view to give us privacy.

Brian’s eyes widened in surprise and his face lit up with joy, more joy than such a simple touch should cause in anybody. It was my fault. I averted my gaze and stared out of the window.

“Amber, Brian? I need to get back to Peterborough,” Dad shouted.

I followed Brian back to the living room where Dad was waiting for us. Zach was nowhere to be seen. He probably thought we needed a family moment. If only he knew that we hadn't had a true family moment for three years. Now everything was just complicated and awkward. My fault, a small voice in my head taunted me.

Dad took a step toward me, his arms lifting ever so slightly as if he was going to hug me before they dropped back to his sides. “Take good care of her, Brian,” Dad said in a strained voice.

I swallowed.

“Don't worry, Dad.” Brian pulled him into a tight embrace. I moved closer to them and accompanied Dad to the entrance door.

“I’ll give you a moment to say goodbye,” Brian said, then he left in the direction of the kitchen. Pumpkin perched on the backrest of the loveseat, keen eye watching me.

“I will be alright, Dad,” I told him, and like moments before with Brian, I reached out and touched Dad's arm ever so lightly. Again a smile and so much joy.

It was killing me to know that I could bring them so much joy with such a simple gesture. With a last glance back at me, Dad disappeared in the elevator at the end of the hallway. I closed the door and turned around. I took a moment to let it sink in that I was really doing this, starting a new life, living in an apartment with Brian and his friend. Voices drifted over to me from the kitchen.

For a moment I considered joining them but it would have been too much, too soon. I picked up Pumpkin, made my way back to my room and closed the door behind me, locking it.

I imagined Brian's reaction to my caution and grimaced, but I felt safer that way. I plopped down on my bed as I watched Pumpkin discovering his surroundings. This was my new life.

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