One Hundred Years of Solitude

Scene I

I couldn't take care of them. How could I explain that to them? I was too young; I had goals and dreams and wants…

I just couldn't. I didn't know how to. It was one thing to be an older brother, it was another thing to be a dad. I couldn't be dad. I couldn't replace Dad. I wasn't too old to feel hurt and pain and confusion, and yet they looked to me. They looked to me to solve their problems and answer their questions. I had questions too. Who would answer mine?

College and football were a fantasy now. Even if I didn't get custody of my brothers, even if I didn't play father, I couldn't afford to go to school. Not now. Not with the funeral and no real job or experience. I had no support system now.

Still they sat staring, waiting for me to answer. I think about the years I've spent being a big brother and answering questions about how things work and why things happen. To them, I always knew the answers. I was all-knowing and now they were waiting for me to end the uncomfortable silence we were wading through like thick mud.

What was going to happen to us now?

What could I say? 'I don't know'? No, I couldn't say that. Not to their slanted eyebrows and red eyes. I couldn't erase their image of me; couldn't take away from them the last thing they held onto so strongly. Their big brother. I had to be Superman to them. Later, I could be human. Later, I could be a kid again, lost and worried and exhausted. But not now. I just couldn't.

"Nothing will happen to us. We'll be fine. I promise," I finally tell them. Firmly, concretely, absolutely. They had no reason to be afraid, I would take care of them. I had to, there was no choice.

They look at me and nod at the same time, passing each other glances as if to say I told you so. Like they knew, all along, that everything would be fine. That I would make it fine. And of course they knew all along, they always had. For all their lives they had known, and now was no different. We would keep treading water, we wouldn't sink.

God help us.

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This story is going to consist of a series of snapshots throughout the lives of the Curtis brothers and their friends. Perhaps even Bob Sheldon and Cherry Valence.