World Made of Steel


'Slow Glowing Dream'

It was eerily quiet now, and Tommy couldn't hear anything coming from behind the thin front door. Its bleak gray color gave no vibe of danger, yet no assurance of kindness either. He kicked at some of the gravel on the step, and caught Brendan's attention. The older boy looked at him wearily with a sigh. Tommy, no matter how much life pulled him down, always seemed to have this spark of life… no, it was more a sort of determination… that kept him going, no matter what. Brendan envied that will to survive: he'd never pegged himself as someone who had that endearing quality. Maybe that was why Pop had so much more faith in Tommy. His determination not to be beaten made him the perfect contender for both wrestling and the Marines. He didn't ask questions either, and by god, did Pop loathe questions. The army wouldn't stand for them, and neither would coaches or the mills; sure there was that illusion, but he knew it wasn't true. Brendan was too into bettering himself, and creating his own future. Tommy was Pop's little soldier; Brendan had never been that… probably never would. As long as Tommy was around, at least. Tapping his fingers on his knee, he kept his gaze on his brother; the younger boy didn't seem to notice. But Tommy missed very little, so he raised his eyes to Brendan. He looked so distant from invincible, that Brendan had to do a double take. Tommy's thick brown eyes were vacant, and a twinkle of sweat lingered on his long eyelashes—a kind of twinkle that made him appear more deadened than he truly was. Brendan almost shivered. It was rare that his brother ever looked like this. He wanted no more than to hug the boy, asking feverishly if everything was okay. But Tommy Conlon very rarely responded well to physical affection… any kind of affection for that matter. It was just who he was. Brendan bit his lip.

"Maybe we should go inside," he suggested quietly, picking up the pace of his taps upon his knee. Tommy stared at the nervous fingers, and looked back up.

"Mom and Pop," Tommy reminded just as meekly, and Brendan let out a deep breath, his fingers coming to a halt.

"Tom, we can't stay out here forever; we've got to go in at some point." It pained Brendan to say that, because he knew the probability of peace behind that gray door was very slim. Tommy dropped his brother's gaze.

"It's peaceful out here," he whispered, letting his eyes linger on the sleepy street. No one was being hurt out here; there was no pain. Nothing was broken, no hearts were shattering. Tommy wanted to stay out here forever; it wasn't like family meant much anyway. 'Conlon' was simply a name that bound him to a dutiful ache.

"Tommy—" Brendan started, but the younger brother shook his head, getting up from his seat with such stealth agility, his brother had to hide his envy. Brushing the gravely substance off the back of his shorts, he twisted the door's knob harshly, and walked over the threshold with a certain heaviness. Brendan was left sitting there, utterly stunned. It took him a good few seconds to actually respond to reality, and then he too got up from his seat and followed Tommy inside. It was always like this: Tom silently leading, while Brendan humored himself with the illusion that he actually had a say.

Tommy was frozen as he stood in the living room, looking like a stranger in his own home. Glass was shattered all over the unsavory mustard-yellow carpet, and there was sure to be the smell of alcohol if he knelt down near it. It looked as if water had been spilled; Pop was in his vodka phase, and it was not even seven in the morning. On a Sunday, no less. Jesus was nowhere to be seen, and salvation found no place in the deep crevices of their father's sins.

Brendan stopped just behind his brother, and lifted a timid hand, placing it lightly on Tommy's shoulder. He didn't move away, but there was little response other than the immediate jump at the sudden touch. Brendan hung his head for a moment.

"Looks like the worst is over," he said, taking his hand from Tommy. The younger boy moved the shoulder, as if shooing away the touch.

"Doesn't mean it's finished," Tommy replied bleakly, and walked deeper into the house. The pictures sitting on the mantle didn't depict the Conlon house in its true light. It glorified their situation to the point where both brothers felt as if they were looking at photos of a different family. One which actually knew the meaning of the word, and felt that it had meaning.

A plate clattered from the kitchen, and Brendan could only imagine his mother's poor shaking hands, not knowing how to function without trembling. He rubbed the back of his neck awkwardly. As much as he loved his mom, he was nowhere near as close to her as Tommy was. He didn't know what it was about Tommy that made their mother favor him. With Pop, it was easy to see why. But their mom was a whole other story. She'd mentioned once that Tommy reminded her of her late father; she'd never said anything of the sort to Brendan.

Tommy walked quickly into the kitchen, leaving Brendan with his mournful thoughts. Alone, as always.

"Mom," Tommy greeted in a tender whisper, and the frail woman turned around slowly. The remains of tears still lingered in her eyes, but the boy never brought attention to it. His mother was strong: he wasn't about to take that from her. She quickly set down the dirty plate she was holding, and embraced her son. It was a desperate hug, one full of all the emotions she could never even wish to express. "Shh," he cooed to her, as he felt her body begin to tremble. Tommy had that effect on people: nothing could stay hidden. He triggered such emotion.

Brendan leaned like a foreigner in the doorway, and fidgeted with his fingers. They looked so complete, the two of them… mother and son. What did that make Brendan? Forgotten. Or, at least that's what it seemed liked until his mother lifted her head so she could see Brendan from over Tommy's shoulder. Fresh tears now illuminating her hazel eyes, she broke away from Tom, and beckoned for Brendan to come closer. He wasn't going to deny her tender touch, and he hugged her tightly. This time it was the mother to calm her child. Brendan didn't mean to appear so weak, but there was no one there who would judge. He smiled. This is how it should be: him, Tommy, and mom. Sadly, though, Pop was still in the picture. At the thought, Brendan froze. His brother seemed to read his thoughts, and turned to his mother.

"Where's Pop," Tommy said dully, as Brendan stepped away from their mother. Helen Conlon looked to her two boys, her head held high.

"Your father," she began tightly, the evidence of tears vanishing, "went out." They all knew that meant he was at the bar, drinking far past his fill, and handing away all his money to the alcohol companies. The Budweiser boys were sure to be substantially richer by the time Paddy Conlon was finished.

"What can we do to help you, Ma?" Brendan asked. The two brothers had learned years ago to stop asking what had happened, rather settling on cleaning up their father's messes.

"I'll get the glass," Tommy said bitterly, not waiting for an okay. Grabbing the dustpan from the corner of the kitchen, he walked past Brendan and into the living room. His brother's strength left Brendan in awe.

Helen looked at Brendan. "Everything's okay," she assured him, but he knew it was a hollow lie. Even so, he nodded to her. "Just help your brother with the glass."

He turned to go out of the room, but glanced back. "You're sure you're alright?"

"He didn't hurt me," she told him, and that was all she said. Helen looked away from him, and Brendan had no choice but to leave the room. Even if Paddy hadn't hurt her physically, the emotional abuse was still apparent. Why she continued to stay with the man was completely lost to Brendan.

"I hate him," Tommy commented once Brendan made his way over to him. The older brother wasn't surprised at the comment, and he nodded. Tom began to forcefully shove the glass into the pan, and looked about ready to rip the carpet right out of the ground. Hands shaking, he let go of the thing harshly. A few pieces of the glass trickled back onto the floor. "Why can't he just stay away."

"Because we keep letting him come back," Brendan returned with a shrug. Tommy looked to his brother, eyes appearing almost black. Nothing more was said and he put the few stray pieces of glass into the pan, and left the room.

Chapter two! Wooho! Haha, I tried to add a bit more of Brendan in this one, so I hope that turned out okay. Also, I can't remember if they actually said the mother's name in the movie, so I just made up my own. Next chapter, I'm hoping to include Paddy. I'm so nervous about writing him, but I'll do my best. Your comments and ideas are greatly welcomed!

Reviews are love!