Destruction roared too close now. The siren pealed while Caspian tried to make decisions about what he needed to make his escape. He had heard the saying a hundred times and dozens of ways: What would you take if you only had a few seconds? His brother always had an answer--the right answer. But Caspian knew that time spent dreaming up imaginary crises could be better utilized to fulfill his ambitions.
The visit with Romero had been...embarrassing. His little brother had been bursting to share his life with him.
"She said yes, Cas--a thousand times yes!" he'd grabbed his arms, too excited to get into the Ferrari right away.
Caspian shook him off, glad a jet liner roared above them to drown out the remaining verbal vomit. All the way from the airport, his brother delineated the virtues of his wife-to-be. As Caspian voice-activated his driveway gate, Romero said,
"And the kids are really thrilled to be a part of the wedding."
He couldn't stomach another dote-on-the-orphans session. It suited him well that his brother chose to live half a world away, and that they only saw each other once a year, at most. What didn't suit him--well, cuddling orphans was to success what garden shears would be to one of his finished designs.
"When are you going to give up these hobbies and start living your life, Romero?"
His little brother sat staring at him, having been cut off.
"You just don't get it, do you?"
"What's there to get? Complete waste, you know that?"
But that's what he'd thought about the relationship with Charlie. Charlotte had been perfect in the beginning. Then she started wanting. Wanting him. So he became undesirable.
"You're so lost, Cas," she'd said, her brows furrowed closer together, and shock hovering behind her otherwise collected expression. "I hope you find yourself before you get swallowed up by this black hole you've made."
"Just get out, Charlie!"
She'd snatched up her touchscreen and stalked out as his insides grasped at the remnants of what they'd had. He should have been happy.
Now, the emptiness haunted him, wrapped its skinny fingers around his throat and squeezed. He pictured it whirling through his home studio, picking his clothing creations one at a time without reason, and filling them out. Rage clawed his throat. Running into the room, he yanked hangers off the rack, even as the words entered his mind:
What would you take?
His head snapped left. Through the window: a water tower. A moving tower. He saw himself shoved aside by the wave. Engulfed, he could just make out his forearms clinging to bare hangers. He thought of his brother, thousands of feet in the air. Then regret pulled him down.
This story was inspired by the following image, created by Joavan Puran, a talented Jamaican visual artist. Check out his work:
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