By Joy Umoekpo

It all started a few months ago on a normal day. Trent had just finished some biology homework from his college and was preparing to pick up his younger brother Edwin from his classes when he received the phone call. His mouth fell open. His car keys fell from his hands and his legs gave out under him. He fell back into his seat as the words came through the line.

The next few hours went by in a blur of varying faces and locations. There was his apartment complex, Edwin’s screams, the nursery, the doctor’s condolences, and his baby brother Robert’s cries. Then, after everything, there was the crushing silence of the house as Trent sat wide awake in the dark with Robert sleeping in his lap and Edwin sleeping fitfully on a nearby couch.

Now, on their mother’s birthday, Trent could only hold Edwin as he sobbed into his shoulder. 

The oldest brother could still imagine his parents’ smiling faces and remember their voices and kind words. There were days when he couldn’t believe that they were both in the ground. He wouldn’t be able to call them or hear their voices or see their faces ever again. All that was left of them were photos, memories, and their rotting corpses in the dirt.

Trent knew he should be filled with sadness. He should be screaming to the heavens, asking the universe why this happened to him and his brothers. He should be demanding answers to his questions. Why did his parents have to die? Why did a drunk driver hit their car that afternoon? Why couldn’t Robert ever get to know the wonderful people his mother and father were?

He wanted to do these things. He wanted so desperately to be angry, to throw dishes at the walls, break every window in the house without leaving a glass fragment in its place, and smash his bedroom mirror so he wouldn’t have to see his brown hair and jade eyes, the spitting image of his mother. Trent wished he could crawl into a corner and bawl until his voice was lost and his eyes were dried out.

But he couldn’t do that. The oldest brother couldn’t lose his control. He couldn’t sink into the misery and despair that hung in the darkness, waiting for him to trip and fall into its embrace.

Trent had to remain calm for his little brothers. He had to guide Edwin through his last year of high school so that he could get into the college of his dreams and he had to raise little Robert, the perfect picture of their father, into a young man who his parents would have been proud to call their son. 

But he would think about all that later. For now, he would continue to rub Edwin’s back in soothing circles and wait for the inevitable wails of the infant sleeping in the next room.

My name is Joy Umoekpo. I am a senior at Trinity University and I live in Houston, Texas. This is my first publication in High Noon and I hope you all enjoy it!

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