Metal

- A Short -

They all knew he was going to be the one to do it.

And they supposed it was fitting. He was the oldest, he was the quietest and, in truth, he cared the most. They weren’t worried about him. They were worried about Selo and Jon, because they were still young. They were still plagued with nightmares that they struggled to make sense of when they woke up. They still crept into their siblings’ room at night. Into their parents’ rooms. That’s why they were worried—because Selo would creep into their parents’ room and cry small tears and then they’d start asking questions.

It was quick enough. They held onto that thought.

Sonny held onto that thought as he fell asleep that night. Onto each word as he slipped into a hot lack of dreams

He turned in his bed—heat pooling in a fold of duvet by his knee. He moved his arm up in his half sleep and touched the metal frame housing the mattress. His eyes opened, and he pulled his fingers away from the cold. The morning must have come to stand at his windows. The sun was coming in past the thin blinds and so he rubbed his face—slapping his skin with both hands, before dragging them down to his neck. His clothes had spilled out onto the floor. He looked at them for a second, standing above them now, watching the folds of a redshirt snake across the carpet, but then turned and walked away.

The fan was still buzzing in the corridor. Something clinked in the lamp overhead. He leaned over and silenced the fan.

For the first time, he noticed the picture hanging between Selo’s room and the twins'. One corner had come loose from the frame and curled up—he tried to straighten it, but each time twisted back under his finger. The picture showed a young man in a boat, gripping a poorly drawn fishing rod. The sky was painted a dirty grey and it must have been an evening scene because the water was a horrible red color. He gave up on the canvas and turned his attention to Selo’s door, which was open just slightly. He would have ignored it, but the open balcony door in the living room let a wild breeze into the house and the door swung open. It was empty. She must have woken up.

Her room sat still and vacant under the sound of the morning.

“Sonny.”

It was his dad’s voice. He was in the kitchen. He could tell. When he broke from the corridor, he found they were all in the kitchen. Every single one of them. His father, Nathan, whose blonde fringe was resting on the thick rim of his glasses. His dad, Scott, the one who had called his name and was now leaning over an overcooked pancake on the stove. Hayden—the redhead (Lord knows where it came from, no one else in the family before him had hair as fiery). The twins—Jimmy and Theodore (Jim and Teddy to those in the room). Jon, who twisted his fingers nervously the way he did each morning and Selo—a small thing, the youngest and most notably, the only girl.

“You look like death,” his dad said, laughing.

In that moment, Sonny, Hayden, Selo, Jon and the twins all shared a look. Just for a second.

Then they looked away and ate two pancakes each. All except Selo, who wasn't hungry and gave her second one to Jimmy. He ate it—though he wasn't hungry either. 

They'd killed him, you see. The man under the boxes of their father's 1950s social rock memorabilia in the basement—the one they'd all dreamed about last night—the one Sonny had seen the phantom of on his bedroom floor and in the painting in the hallway. They didn't all do it. Just Sonny. He pulled the trigger. 

But no one was going to say that.