Chris sat at the dining room table at Mouse and Leo's house. It was the house where Leo's mom, Mouse's dad, and their kids lived.
Mouse's dad, Louis, was out bowling with 'the guys' for the night and Mom, Chris, and I were staying over at their house for a week or so to get over the lack of Dad's presence. Financially and psychologically.
Dinner had ended almost an hour ago, but Chris just sat there with a fork in his left hand, staring straight ahead. His right arm was in a sling, but it wasn't broken, just fractured.
"Chris, Honey," Mouse's mom, Jessica, said, "We have popcorn here. Don't you want to watch the movie with us?"
"We picked a PG one just for you!" I said.
Mouse snickered and Leo elbowed her.
"No... Thank you." Chris said.
"I haven't seen him this upset since the ordeal with Geoffry." I whispered to Leo.
Leo nodded, "Yeah, I know. It's kind of sad."
"Just look at him," I said, "The pain in his eyes is almost unbearable."
Leo groaned, "Now you're getting me down."
I gave Leo a look and turned back to watching Chris.
Chris' eyes were full of hate. He didn't seem to be looking at anything in particular, just staring straight ahead.
"I'm gonna try to talk to him," I said to Mom.
"Good luck with that." Mouse said, "He's practically a vegetable."
I ignored her and went over to where Chris was sitting.
I sat down a chair away from him and said gently, "Chris?"
Chris didn't answer, he just stared grudgingly at the wall ahead of him.
Mouse was right, it was almost like he was catatonic.
Catatonic. The word reminded me of when Chris was in the hospital after he saved me from being hit by a bus.
I tried hard to shake the thought and I said, "Do you want to come watch the movie, Chris?"
My little brother remained silent.
"Chris," I said, "I know this feeling. You act like you want to be left alone, when, really, you want someone to come and talk to you. But it has to be the right person."
"Don't ever say that you've been through this, Angela." Chris said, "You haven't, never. And you're the last person I want to talk to about this."
"Well, too late. We're already talking." I said, raising my voice.
"You don't have a fractured arm from a fight you lost!" Chris yelled at me.
"You don't have a fractured heart from the brother who's pushing you away." I said, suddenly feeling sad and vulnerable.
Chris stared at me for a minute, but scowled, "My father, my sister, my childhood friend, and my best friend in the whole world, my soul sister. They all broke my heart! It's not always about you, Angela!"
"How am I making this about me?" I shouted.
"You're saying that I'm not the only one who has it bad." Chris said, "You're telling me I should just suck it up and watch a movie with you like nothing's wrong. Like I didn't lose my best friend and my dad."
"He was my dad too!" I said sharply.
Chris stared at me with hurt eyes.
"There you go again," Chris' voice trembled when he talked, "It's all about poor little Angela Harper, isn't it? Look at you, you're already talking about Dad like he's dead!"
"Kids," Mom said, standing up.
"Don't mock me, Chris!" I said.
"I can mock you all I want, that's all you do to me!" Chris cried, pushing me.
"Now you're just putting words in my mouth!" I pushed him back.
You're a lier! You're a hypocrite! Don't you dare say that. How could you? I was just trying to help you! You're such a drama queen! You're so uncooperative! It's not my fault!
Mom was trying to break as apart now.
Chris and I were shoving and pushing and yelling and screaming at each other. It was a full blown argument.
"I HATE YOU, ANGELA!"
"I HATE YOU, CHRIS!"
We were both crying now.
Mom had pulled Chris away from me by the waist and Jessica had pulled me away. They were holding us away from each other and we were still crying and screaming at each other.
"You two are acting like children!" My mom snapped at us, "I know life is hard for you right now, but that's no excuse to act like this. We are Louis and Jessica's guests!"
Mom turned to Jessica, "I'm so, so, sorry, Jessica. We won't bother you anymore. We can be out of here by tomorrow morning."
Jessica let go of me and walked across the room to Mom.
She put her hands on Mom's shoulders and said, "Patricia, I would never do that to you and your family. You all need us now."
Mom had let go of Chris now and she hugged Jessica.
"Thank you," She said, "Thank you."
Chris and I had started fighting again.
We had been fighting all this time, but none of it really got to me until Chris slapped me right across the face.
I lifted my head to stare it him. My hair was in my face, my eyes a cold, ghostly green.
"I HATE YOU!" I cried, sobbing and stomping into the hallway.
From the living room, Leo swallowed and said shakily, "This is just like when my dad left all over again."
I peeked out from the hallway to see what he was doing.
Everyone had stopped what they were doing to watch Leo.
To my surprise, he was crying.
He sniffed and looked down, letting his hair hang in his face.
"Do you think our dads even know what they did to us?" Leo asked.
I couldn't tell who he was addressing this question to, but Chris wordlessly took a step toward him.
"Do you think they know how much pain they caused us by leaving?" Leo said, choking back a sob.
Chris walked forward and kneeled down in front of Leo.
Leo looked up, his face streaked with tears, and chuckled.
"You know just how I felt, don't you, Chris?" He said.
Chris nodded. He had his back turned to me, so I couldn't see his face, but he was probably crying too.
Mouse exchanged a look with her mom and Mom turned toward the hallway.
I ducked in before she could see that I hadn't gone back to the room I was staying in.
Chris had sat down in front of Leo now and he was listening intently to what Leo was saying.
Mouse quietly got up and stood by her mother, who said quietly, "Let's go upstairs, Mousey."
I ran up to my temporary room and I heard Mom, Mouse, and Jessica coming up the stairs behind me.
I closed my door and lied down on the bed, pulling the covers up to my ears.
I thought about the things Chris and I had said to each other, when he slapped me.
Then, I lied there and cried.
Just minutes later, I heard my door creak open.
I sat up to see Mouse peeking into the room.
"Hey, Mousey." I said, sniffling.
Mouse came and sat at the foot of my bed, "Hey. You seem to be taking this pretty hard."
"It's not even me," I said, "It's Chris. I'm so scared for him. I'm always so scared that if his heart gets any harder it'll crack and he'll turn into a completely different person. A depressed, angry, dark person. I can't let my brother turn into that person."
I had started crying again.
Mouse has never been the friend to have heart-to-heart conversations with, but she had her moments.
Mouse put her hand on my shoulder and I cried more.
"You know, that brother of yours is very smart and you're very determined." Mouse said, "I think you can keep him under control."
I looked and Mouse and said, "Did you really just say that?"
We both laughed and I hugged Mouse. She let me and she said, "Good luck."
I nodded, "Thanks, but I think Chris needs that more than I do."
Mouse shrugged, "He has Leo for that."
I nodded again and said, "Well, we should probably get to sleep, Mousey."
"Yeah," Mouse said, going to the door, "'Night, Ange."