Storm Before The Calm (Kuu) Apr 7, 2017 1:15:23 GMT
Post by Elliot and Isaac Sunderland on Apr 7, 2017 1:15:23 GMT
Elliot sighed as he opened the front door, rolling his backpack off of his shoulder and letting it flop onto the floor. For the tenth time in a row, he entered alone. The first day he did it, the loneliness of the situation was like a stab to the heart. The second time it stung even deeper as he realized the past few days weren't just a bad dream. The third time it shattered his heart into a million pieces. Now all he could feel was hollow, each day hurting Elliot less but emptying him a little more.
"Welcome back." Elliot didn't even really look up at the voice, but a small smile tugged at the corners of his mouth. Even if his brother was gone, and his father had been gone for ages, at least he still had his mom, Cassandra. "Did your brother come back with you this time?" she asked, looking over the magazine she was reading to check on her son. His silence as he moved his backpack away from the door spoke volumes. "Guess that's a no. He's been busy a lot lately, hasn't he?"
"Yeah. He wanted to spend the rest of his day with his girlfriend," Elliot said, flopping down on the couch as limply as a deflated balloon. "She's got a big project coming up, and he's busting his butt off to try and give her a hand with it."
There was silence. Cassandra gently set her magazine down, blinking a few times as the thought fully set in. "I didn't even know he had a girlfriend," she said, voice quiet. "She's gotta be a real catch if he's actually doing schoolwork for her, though. I could never get him to touch his homework."
As soon as his mother said that, a pang of guilt practically slammed Elliot in the chest. "You didn't?" he said, eyes wide with shock. "But Isaac always told you everything, didn't he?"
Cassandra's laugh was equal parts gentle and weary. "You'd be right there. But I guess you kids've been really busy lately, haven't you?" she said. "Not that I'm one to talk. God, I've barely given you two the time of day since we've come up here, haven't I? Some family vacation this has been."
Elliot peeled himself off of the couch, moving to sit next to his mother. "No, no, this has been our fault. We've just . . ." The temptation came to mind to tell his mother everything about what they've been up to, especially involving the Digital World. However, he could tell the move was taking a lot out of her already. Her hair, once as blonde as Isaac's, was starting to get some major roots of grey shooting through it. There were also huge, dark bags hanging under her blue eyes, accented by a few freshly developing wrinkles. In the year they had moved, she seemed to age five. Was he really going to make it worse? "We've just had a lot on our plate," he said. "But so have you, right? Between getting a new job, and getting us all moved here, you must really be under a lot of stress."
"Tell me about it," Cassandra said, smiling very tiredly. "You know, sometimes I envy you kids. You've still got your whole lives ahead of you. You don't need to get all caught up in your worries like I do." Another pang of guilt shot through Elliot's heart as he realized how much he was leaving out. "You look like you're dead on your feet. Go get some rest, okay? And tell your brother the next time I see him, he's telling me everything about his girlfriend. I'm not letting him hide it on me this time."
Elliot gently hugged his mother as he stood to leave. "Don't worry, I won't let him get away on you," he joked, a genuine smile on his face for the first time in days. "I'll talk to you soon."
The smile slowly faded as Elliot made his way up the stairs. He reached into his pocket and pulled out his phone, looking at it meaningfully as he flopped into his bed. He couldn't keep making excuses for Isaac's absence. At least, not excuses that were so temporary. Isaac couldn't spend every day at Maia's house, or going to drama club practice, or exploring the city with a new group of friends pulled from half-remembered Digital World names. If he was going to keep explaining Isaac's disappearances, he'd need to do something desperate.
Elliot plugged his father's number into his phone, lied down on his bed, and hit dial.