infinite possibilities by phoenix.writing

16 May

Brian’s mother was still hinting that it would be nice if Brian suddenly decided that he was going to go to community college so that he could stay at home and commute.

Brian thought his mom was insane, and though he was trying not to show it too obviously, he wasn’t altogether certain that he was succeeding these days.

Empty nesting, Eddie said it was, and he’d reassured Brian that she acted this way every time one of them moved out.  It wasn’t like Brian hadn’t been here when the others had headed off to university; he remembered it, he just didn’t remember it being like this.

His theory was that it got exponentially worse the more kids left, and that meant that Jo was totally screwed.  He’d felt a little bad at first, he really had, but at this point, he was quite prepared to throw her under the bus to make good his escape; the phrase “You’ve still got Jo” had passed his lips what now felt like dozens of times.

Jo was the baby, more than four years younger than Brian—and the way that he had learned that calling someone an accident was a good way to get grounded, though it had totally been George’s fault.  (But Brian had got even when Mom had overheard George saying that all the brains in the family had been used up with the first four kids and that’s why Jo and Brian were so much stupider than the others.)

Really, it was Jo’s job to be coddled (and there had definitely been times that Brian had resented that because he was the youngest boy of four, but she was the baby, so it was about time that it came in handy for him).

Mom still had a child to cherish and keep at home, therefore, so he didn’t have to worry too seriously that he was breaking her heart—and it wasn’t like she didn’t still have Dad, anyway, who was behaving as though this were a perfectly normal occurrence—and that meant that Brian could go make a name for himself away from the damn shadows cast by his older brothers and the Brain (which Sam didn’t like being called, but she’d skipped, like, twelve grades before going off to university to get twenty four degrees or something like that, and neither the doctor-, the lawyer-, or the economist-to-be could trump that).

There was no way that Brian could compete with any of them, but if he could get out of the house, get away from all those expectations, he would be able to do what he wanted, succeed or fail all on his own and at least not hear about it from everyone else all the time.  (Because he wasn’t under any illusions; he knew full well that his mom was going to be discussing his progress over coffee every Sunday after church and when she ran into people in the grocery store and the post office.)

He’d be free.  No more hand-me-downs, no more sitting down in front of every new teacher aware that they knew who he was and already expected plenty because four siblings had been there before him.  He could do what he wanted when he wanted, could stop thinking about who’d done it first and if they’d done it better or worse.  He wouldn’t have to think about anybody’s footsteps at all if he didn’t want to.

Brian couldn’t wait, and while he’d tried to temper his enthusiasm a little so that he wouldn’t hurt his mom—who’d taken to asking occasionally if she was a bad mother and home life had been unpleasant—but he wanted nothing more than a chance to be on his own.

Kids grew up and wanted to be on their own all the time but to hear his mother, it was like he was the first one ever to have the thought and it was unnatural and wrong.

“You’ll be fine, squirt.”

It was James, leaning up against the door frame watching Brian as he attempted to pack the last of the boxes.  Really, he was done and just dithering.  If he was missing anything, he knew full well that Mom would be more than happy to send it to him.  Possibly use it as an excuse to visit, so he should maybe think about this a little more carefully.

“Don’t call me that.”  The protest was automatic.

Eddie and James had both come home to see him off.  George was getting ready to move into a new place himself, and Sam was off doing something terribly important—and possibly top secret (he’d learned it was better not to ask questions on that front).

James came all the way into the room.  “Just send her lots of e-mails for the first little while.  Call her at least once a week.  Way better than the rant of motherly concern that you get if you don’t—Eddie suffered through that one, and the trauma was great enough that we now pass it on as brotherly wisdom.”

Growing up in a family of four boys, Brian knew better than to take this at face value normally, only he remembered September the year Eddie had left.  It had Not. Been. Pretty.

If James said this was how to avoid that fate, better to give it a try.

He nodded.

“Ready to go?”

Brian nodded again.

“Nervous?”

Kind of sick to his stomach, actually, but he fought the reaction down.  Getting out of here was new and brilliant and a little bit terrifying, but he wasn’t about to let James know that.

James slung an arm across Brian’s shoulder.  “You’ll be fine, squirt.  Growing up with us, you’ve learned important lessons that will stand you in good stead at university.”

Brian raised an eyebrow.

“Eat fast before others can steal it from you, run fast so that no one can beat you up, and don’t let anyone catch you cheating.”

Brian shrugged out of the contact.  “Thanks for that, James. I feel much better.”

James laughed.  “Anything I can do to help.  Ready now?”

Ready to get away from his family?  Yes, yes, he was.  He grabbed up a box and shoved it at James, then took another for himself. His whole life was ahead of him, and Brian couldn’t wait to get started.

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Other members of Brian's family can be seen (or heard) in: The Dangers of a Red Shirt, ConspicuousConsequences,  Falling-OutThe Uses of Math, and Subliminal Salvation.

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2 Responses to “infinite possibilities by phoenix.writing”

  1. jmforceton May 19, 2010 at 9:02 pm #

    I appreciate the skill it took to make each of these characters individuals and to show his relation to each of them. Well done.

  2. ingridfnl May 19, 2010 at 9:28 pm #

    This was great! 🙂 You built a great family.

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