“Rain is falling from the sky, but it can’t rain all the time.”
The tears fell from his sky, running down his bruised, hollow cheeks and onto his battered, bleeding torso. He felt his heart ache with every heave, his injured shoulder hurt with every shaking of his body. Inconsolable, he cried himself to sleep, yet his dreams jerked him back awake again. He couldn’t win. He couldn’t fight this losing battle without wanting to get out of the world which seemed to hate him.
“I’m sorry, Billy. I never wanted this…”
He sobbed to the ceiling, as though somewhere up there, Billy could hear him, until he realised that God would be judging him right now. Whereas He was making Brian suffer down on Earth, he was judging Billy in the Heavens, deciding whether or not his suffering must continue in death.
Brian didn’t condone what Billy had done, but he knew how it felt to be desperate. He’d tried to take his own life only days before because he couldn’t live with the thought of prison. Billy had felt the same. He couldn’t live with what had happened to him while he was there…where Brian had put him. He grasped the blankets which covered him, and squeezed them. Hard. He deserved the pain. It helped him to forget…
His family would be there in the morning. They would make it all go away…
U.S Sentenial-Article 3
Brian Littrell, the recently shamed star of hit band Backstreet Boys, took a bullet to the shoulder in an explosively dangerous situation which left one dead and Littrell himself badly injured.
The 26 year old star, who had been charged with robbery, dealing in stolen goods and harbouring dishonest money, was kidnapped from the psychiatric wing of the hospital he had been admitted to earlier on this week, to be taken on a violent and highly unnerving trip which, allegedly, resulted in the death of one William Fernandez, jailed early last year for assaulting Littrell and disturbing a restraining order.
Band spokespersons say that Littrell will be cleared of any charges later on this week.
“Honey, you’ll be home in a few days. You’re not alone.”
Brian sobbed silently in his bed, his mother gently smoothing his hair from his forehead in a soothing motion that had comforted him in his childhood. She seemed to be repeating the actions which had helped him all those years ago, not to mention after his surgery.
“But Mom, I feel it. I feel like I’m the only person in my own little world. I feel like I’m the only person who sees that he wouldn’t have died if it wasn’t for me.”
Jackie pulled away, looking her son in the eye, almost angry at his guilt.
“Brian, he was unstable. He was dangerous. He would’ve killed you…”
“Yes, but I drove him to that. It was me who pressed charges against him. It was me who had him sent to jail…I should’ve just left it alone.”
Jackie picked up her son’s hand, rubbing it with her own. It was so clammy…
“Baby, you couldn’t forsee the future. You couldn’t have known that this was going to happen. Really, you couldn’t. And you couldn’t have stopped it.”
Brian wiped the tears from his eyes, and looked up at his mother. She would offer him the world. If he were in trouble, she would lay down her life for him. Why didn’t Billy have a family as supportive as his was? He remembered when Billy had assaulted him. He knew that he was from an abusive background…why was the world like that?
“Everyone was so desperate to help me. Who was there to help him, Mom? Who was there to take him in their arms and tell him that it would all be ok, if he just gave it some time?”
Jackie’s heart went out to her baby’s suffering. He was so compassionate. He felt so much. He was too forgiving.
“Honey, there are people in this world who don’t love their children as much as your father and I love you and Harry. That is how it is. It’s sad, I know, but it happens.”
Brian closed his eyes. Billy’s eyes were not closed. He died with them open. He couldn’t shut out what was happening to him. He couldn’t keep himself in the safety of darkness…
Even in death, he was forced to look upon his own suffering.
CHAPTER FIFTY ONE
“Run and hide, Run and hide,
Try to get to the other side,
Run and play, Run and play,
Live to face another day…”
Roused from his sleep by the sound of voices, Brian opened his eyes groggily, taking in the light piece by piece so as not to disrupt his relaxed pupils. He hated it when the light was a shock to his system. Such a damned discomfort.
“How you doin’, Homeboy?”
It was Kevin. Brian smiled. He’d missed Kevin yesterday, sleeping through his entire visit. It made him wonder what kind of shit they were feeding him. He never slept that deeply.
“Better, but I’ve, um, I’ve also been better.”
Kevin laughed out loud. “No shit. You’ve been shot, Brian.”
“Ha Ha”, the younger man said, sarcasm dripping from his tongue. For someone with such a voice, such a sound from the Angels, Brian’s mouth could be quite acidic sometimes, especially when sardony took him over.
“Your doc says you can get out of here tomorrow if you promise to be a good little boy and take good care of yourself.”
Brian’s eyes lit up with the words. “Really? I can go home?”
Kevin nodded. “Uh-huh, but good old Aunt Jackie and Uncle Harry are gonna be staying with you until your arm heals. She doesn’t want her baby boy strugglin’ too much.”
Kevin sounded so Country Music when he was joking around with his cousin. They often joked that he could be the next Shania Twain, but they discontinued that joke when they actually sang with her…and Kevin decided he’d like to lay her. Kristin didn’t know about that little thought, thank the Lord, but he wouldn’t have said no had he been a single man.
Brian coughed, his throat feeling like sandpaper. Kevin handed him a glass of water, and he washed away his dryness in one swift gulp.
“Mommy and Daddy takin’ care of their baby boy, huh? That sounds…nice.” He softened when he thought about it. He had to admit, he did miss having them around. He missed kisses at bedtime and mother at lunch. He missed talking to his father about golf. He missed all of the things that he had when he wasn’t a Backstreet Boy. But he wouldn’t give it up for the world.
Billy probably never had any of that. The smile dissolved, replaced by a trip lipped almost tears face. He would cry if he didn’t stop torturing himself with this guilt. It was already burning a hole in his chest so big that he was surprised he could breathe any more…
“What’s up? You look like you seen a ghost?”
Brian shook his head. Billy’s ghost was all that haunted him, now.
“I’m fine. Just thinking, that’s all.”
Kevin placed a hand on Brian’s head, wanting to draw out what was bothering him as though it were venom from a snake. He knew what was on his mind.
“Your mom told us about you. How you feel guilty? How can you feel bad for what he did to you, Brian? He killed your spirit. He took away your will to live. He killed you before he died, and that’s unforgivable.”
Brian winced. “I’m sorry, Kevin, but I can’t help thinking that things could’ve been so much different.” He sighed.
“Yes, it could’ve been you waiting to be put in the ground.”
Brian didn’t want to discuss this right now. It was in his mind constantly, and to verbalise it would only make it more real. Right now, he felt it inside of him. He didn’t need to hear it. It was better off where it was.
“Look, we all discussed this. I know you, cuz, and I know how you feel about things, but you have to stop cutting yourself up over this. Enough people have done that to you already. If you carry on, there’ll be nothing left of you to destroy, and I’m not going to let him do that to you…especially since he’s already gone.”
He contemplated his situation. Lying there in his hospital bed, feeling further away from God than he ever had before, in pain from both his body and his conscience. He was hurt, and he was tormented. He’d suffered badly at the hands of a vengeful bastard who would only have caused somebody else the same suffering as he’d caused him, only the next time he might not have stopped. He might have poured his own misery over them, and watched them drown. He might have pulled his shroud of blackness over them, and laughed as they lost their way.
Maybe he’d saved people, or maybe he hadn’t. Maybe he’d just aided Billy in his final struggle.
“I just want to go home, Kevin. I don’t want to talk about this any more.”
He didn’t want to feel any more, didn’t want to remember what had gone one. He desperately wanted to be ‘innocent Brian’, who still had faith in God. He’d give anything to have his faith again, but it was gone. Dead. Banished to Hell with the person who created Hell for him. If he had his faith, he could conquer anything.
But what kind of God would allow such misery to occur? What kind of God would create a world like this one?
CHAPTER FIFTY TWO
He flicked through the letters, one by one, reading every single word. They were all the same, with only minor variations. They were all ‘I know you’re innocent, Brian. I know you’ll get better’, or similar. He picked up number sixty two, wondering whether he would read some comforting words this time. He hadn’t been comforted at all by the fifteen year olds who proposed marriage, not caring whether or not he ‘did it’. This letter had intricate handwriting, beautiful paper. Red. Almost sultry.
I know you have suffered a terrible ordeal. I can’t imagine what you’ve been through, but I want you to know that there are people in the world who believe in you, believe in what you do. We believe you can beat this, and that you will come back stronger. You have love, and you have support, and that is what you need most in this world.
Please know that God does work in strange ways, and this was a test of character. He wanted to make you stronger, and He did. Do you feel stronger?
One last thing, Brian. Forgiveness is beautiful.
He folded up the letter and placed it back into its envelope, closing his eyes briefly. He had lost his way, but now he had been handed a map back to himself. This tiny, beautifully written note had showed him what was what, and reminded him that life sometimes wasn’t all plain sailing. His life was in the hands of the Lord, and it always would be.
Picking up the red envelope, he made his way to the kitchen, where his mother was cooking dinner. It smelt good, and he inhaled deeply as he entered the room. Chicken. His favourite.
“You ok, honey?” she asked, and he nodded. “What can I do for you? You were supposed to be resting.”
Brian sighed. “I want to go to the funeral.”
His mother choked on her own breath. “The funeral? Whatever for?”
But the look in his eyes told her everything. He needed closure, for him and for Billy. He wanted to finish this thing in the right way, otherwise he’d never be free from it.
“It’s ok, honey. We’ll be with you.”
The small, wooden coffin was lowered into the ground on the grey and rainy day in a ceremony which barely went noticed.
Brian looked down into the earth, glad of the supporting hand of his mother and cousin on either side of him. Tears fell from his eyes as he stared at the wooden casket, containing the tragic yet deadly form of the person who had caused him so much pain.
Yet he didn’t have it inside of him to hate him.
“Ashes to Ashes”, the priest called, pouring a handful of earth on top of the coffin, “dust to dust”, he continued, and repeated the process until the ceremony was complete.
“Where was his family, Mom?” Brian asked tearfully, yet his mother merely shook her head.
“He wasn’t as lucky as us, Cuz. He had none left. He was…alone.”
Brian dried his eyes, feeling torn.
“It wasn’t his fault. He was a victim, just like me, only he suffered his whole life. Mine was just a short time.”
Proud of his courage, his family embraced him. For one who had been through so much, his capacity to forgive was unbelievable. For his parents, it was a sign of a job well done. For his brothers, it was an action which made them proud.
As they filed away from the cemetery where Brian’s own suffering had been buried along with his tormentor, they thanked the Lord that they had each other.
Some people weren’t that lucky.
Written by: Summer Laura
Feedback to: firstname.lastname@example.org