HARSH

By @DocsNovels
HARSH

Dead parents and an abusive older brother. Will is living the hard life.

Chapter 1

Epilogue

{Note} This story is written in Australian English, spelling may vary.

——–

The sky swelled with black. The bitter cold clawed and bit at the Earth. The typical midnight silence was replaced by the ta-ta-tat-tat of bullets of water which fell from the sky and plummeted to the humble town below. At times like this, most homes would sit dead silent without a hint of light in their windows. But for the Daru family, their house could be mistaken as a pulsating street light from afar. 

Will who was sunken into the lounge room couch watched on with a broad grin on his face. His mother, Carol, and cousin, Bianca shook their hips and pumped their fists in the air in accordance to the beat of the music playing through Bluetooth speakers scattered around the house. The heart-throbbing energy in the household was fuelled by the buzz of conversation and the piercing cold air which instantly turned human skin to gooseflesh. Will’s mother had congregated dear colleagues, precious family and the best of her friends to her house to celebrate her eldest son’s – whose name was Jesse – eighteenth birthday. 

Will struggled out of the crater he had produced in the couch padding. His body was slender, along with his limbs which sprouted out of his loose clothing like frail branches. The boy dragged his feet as he weaved through the swarm of people and into the kitchen which was divided from the living room by a polished stone-top counter. Will forced himself out of the crowd as if he were squeezed through a tight space, and continued down a placid, more barren corridor. 

The boy halted at a teak wood door. A roguish smirk crept onto his face. Will’s hand approached the polished brass doorknob gradually. And as the tension escalated… Will burst through the door and leapt in the air! Jesse, who laid on his bed, hands intertwined behind his head and legs crossed, suddenly went into a phase of panic as he watched his younger brother belly-flop on top of him, landing with a whip-like snap! Jesse wheezed. His arms and legs spurted into the air as he grimaced. 

“You suck.” Jesse groaned as gravity yanked his limbs back down. Will snickered. He pushed himself off of his older brother and gained balance on his knees. “Do you happen to know what time it is?” Asked Will. Jesse groaned as he shifted his head to the side for a better view of his analog clock. “****”, “exactly.” Jesse threw his brother to the ground as he sat up and grabbed his own dirty-blonde hair in panic. “Freakin’ hell, I didn’t memorise any of their names!” said the young man through gritted teeth.

The Daru family had the tradition to address a speech after one’s candles were extinguished and, as tradition goes, the one who delivers the speech must mention specific people by name to thank, names that Jesse had forgotten entirely. The young man foraged the drawers of his bedside table in hopes to locate a note of some sort with the people’s explicit names.

“Three minutes” Will hummed as he watched his brother violently tear through his belongings like a dog digging at the ground. “Jesse, honey?” sung the brothers’ mother outside the door. Carol didn’t even manage to fit her forehead through the doorway before being replied to with, “yeah, be right there, Mum.” In a matter of fact, Jesse wished he could lock himself in his bedroom and save himself the humiliation. But tradition called.

Will, who now stood in a pigsty of his brother’s things, directed an ear in the direction of the kitchen. The house was exhausted of its noise. Instead, the long, lingering gong of the grandfather clock haunted the household. It was now midnight. Only two more minutes until Jesse’s scheduled appearance in front of the congregation.

“You got to get out there” urged Will. Jesse held his hand up to his brother as he paused to search his memory. “Screw it,” the young man said ruefully, “I’ll just wing it.” Jesse emerged from his room and was greeted immediately with an orchestra of claps. He wore a smile, but beneath it he was perturbed. The young man slotted himself behind the kitchen counter. To his left, his mother. To his right, his father, Charles who, on occasions like these, wore the stench of alcohol. Jesse directed his attention in front of him. He was presented with a mountain of chocolate which stood tall on a glass dish. A stunning, exquisitely handcrafted cake crowned with the number eighteen.

Carol struck a match alight and allowed the flame to dance onto the candles. With a nod of her head and a gesture of her hand, everyone began to follow Carol as they, like a choir, sounded the classic ‘Happy birthday’ song. The tune ended sweetly. Jesse filled his lungs with air and blew softly on the candles. The flames flickered and danced until eventually disappearing as puffs of smoke into thin air, leaving a pleasant aroma behind. Another orchestra of claps followed, this time louder and accompanied with cheering.

Now, however, came the dreaded moment. Carol patted her sons back gently as she noticed that he was fidgeting with his fingers behind his back. Jesse took a moment to recuperate his thoughts as he ran through his speech in his head. He stole a breath, took a glance at the crowd and began his speech. 

It went smoothly. The young man, although fully matured, had a few voice cracks purely from the nervousness tugging at his stomach. Mistakes throughout the delivery were seamlessly covered up with quick-witted improv. But when it came to the ‘thank yous’, however, Jesse lost all confidence and had a train-wreck of an attempt trying to guess everyone’s names. Moments after, the cake was cut and the youthful night carried on…

The sun peeked over the horizon. The yellow light washed across Will’s pale features as it spilled through the dormer window. Through squinted eyes, the boy glared up at the ceiling. The birds outside chirped harmoniously. It was always pleasant to wake up with a hugging warmth on your face. But for Will, his current morning routine involved warmth from something other than the sun. Not a hugging warmth, but a gripping warmth. A warmth which could only be best described as choking. Will gargled on his own spit as a hand wrapped around his throat and squeezed tight. All the while, Jesse laughed manically.

Mum, Dad. Why did you leave me with this freak? Thought Will.

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