Not Meant To Be Broken

By: Cora Reilly

I'd already have succeeded, if Dad hadn't saved me twice. After my second attempt, he started sobbing. I couldn't remember ever having seen my dad cry in earnest. He’d told me he wouldn't survive if he lost me, too. Not after having already lost Mom to cancer when I was only twelve.

Even Brian, my invincible brother, had had tears in his eyes when he visited me in the hospital after my second try. After that, I decided I would try to bear my life for their sake. I wouldn’t hurt them more than absolutely necessary. Dad was suffering enough, forced to watch me every day while Brian had left for college shortly before the incident. He was spared most of the drama.

When I suggested to Dad that I wanted to start a new life, I didn't have the slightest clue how to do it exactly. The only thing that had been clear from the beginning was that I had to leave my hometown. Dad came up with a solution that sounded incredibly good at the beginning: I could move in with Brian and his best friend.

We were almost there, only a few more minutes until I'd arrive at my new home. A feeling of sickness spread in my stomach and I closed my eyes for an instant to fight it down.

“Are you alright, Amber?” Dad's worried tone caused me to open my eyes, but I averted my gaze at the look of concern and despair on his face.

“I'm fine, Dad,” I assured him. I stroked the soft fur on Pumpkin's back in an attempt to calm myself. As usual, my cat rewarded me with a low purr before he pressed himself closer against my lap. I caught Dad staring at the cat wistfully and it almost broke my heart. Dad shouldn't have reason to be jealous of a cat. Yet I couldn't bring myself to take his hand or hug him. I wanted to, but something was stopping me.

Our car pulled into the street where Brian lived. This was it: my chance to start a new life. Dad parked the car and turned off the engine. I didn't move and neither did Dad, but ever so slowly I turned my gaze to the side. My heart leaped into my throat.

There, in front of a four-story brownstone apartment building, stood my brother, staring uncertainly at the car. He wasn’t the hesitant type, but with me it was different. I was the reason for his uncertainty. He was probably worried about me. Always worried.

Dad pushed open the door and got out of the car before walking toward Brian. They hugged. There was no hesitation, no awkwardness.

I wrapped my arms around myself. I wanted that, too.

I fought back the tears threatening to fall, and taking a deep breath I opened the door and left the car. I pressed my cat a bit tighter against my chest as I approached Brian and Dad. They were talking to another guy. He was even taller than Brian, who was already 6’1, and even more muscled. His dark hair was cut really short and he was wearing a BU sweatshirt. He must be Zachary, Brian's best friend.

A new wave of panic rushed over me but I forced my face into a neutral mask. They were watching me as if they expected me to have a hysteric break down any minute. At least, that’s what Dad’s and Brian’s expressions told me.

I wouldn't prove them right. I'd be strong for their sake, and maybe I'd even manage to pretend I was happy. It couldn't be that difficult.

I'd seen other people being happy. I could copy them. Dad kept telling me that I needed to be happy again or they would win. Deep down I knew that they had already won. They'd wanted to break me, and they'd broken me. They’d won, and that thought made living so much more unbearable. They’d won, and there was nothing I could do about it.

They had won.

Sighing quietly to myself, I took the last few steps toward Dad, Brian and Zachary.



Brian and I had been waiting on the sidewalk for more than thirty minutes. Brian wanted to be there when his father and sister arrived. I didn’t get it. We would have seen them pull up from our kitchen window.

Brian rubbed his palms against his thighs, eyes glued to the street. It was no fucking wonder that he was cold in that ridiculous checkered button down shirt. My sweatshirt did a better job of keeping the cold at bay. He looked like he was going for the mother-in-law’s delight-look.

Brian cleared his throat. “Remember not to touch her and better don't go too close to her and--”

“And don't be alone in a room with her, I know, Brian. The words are practically burned into my ears,“ I said calmly. “I’ll be on my best behavior.” I patted his shoulder, feeling how tense he actually was.

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