Disclaimer: I don’t own Brothers & Sisters, written with love, not for money
Summary: It’s in the title. Written for the walker challenge no 5.
Extra: I completely
1988 – 6 years old - “Popping M&Ms...”
It’s not always easy, being the youngest. Justin doesn’t only have a mother who watches after him, but also two sisters who mother him and two brothers who bully him... Well, one brother, Tommy. His other brother, Kevin is much nicer. Justin sometimes feels like he doesn’t fit in with his older brothers and sisters.
But there’s one place where he never feels out of place and that is the tree-house in Ojai. Climbing up the familiar stairs he looks around. Sarah and Kitty are still in Pasadena with Nora. Tommy and Kevin are sleeping in. Honestly, what fun is there in sleeping until noon, if it’s already so warm outside at 8?
He had knocked on William’s door and he had said that he would go to the tree-house. William had merely grunted from underneath the blanket and waved. Justin took it as an okay. And he had played for about an hour, but hunger had driven him back to the ranch, where everyone was still sound asleep.
Bored and hungry he had searched for something to eat. Conveniently overlooking the bread and cheese, he had gone for the cookies and the chocolate bars. And to round things up he had thrown in one (two? three?) handful(s) of candy. And with the paper-bag firmly under his arm, he had returned to the tree-house.
And now he lies on his back. There are wraps all around him. He eats the last candy-bar, though he seriously doubts if that is a good plan, because he already feels a bit weird in his tummy, but they are too delicious to resist and so he takes another bite.
Looking out the door and over the platform that the tree-house is build on, he can see the orchards and the ranch in the distance, the sun is already warm and his clothes are starting to stick to his skin. He closes his eyes and smiles. At moments like this, he doesn’t feel strange, or different. And what a wonderful feeling it is.
1994 – 12 years old – alcohol
He tries to get up, but can’t lift his head. He’s feeling remarkably relaxed. Next to him on the floor is a bottle of wine, but it’s out of his reach. The first glass had been awful, the second one better and he can’t remember the taste of the third one, he certainly can’t remember having a fourth glass of it.
Fact is the bottle is empty and he’s feeling mmmmmighty fine. He giggles all by himself and feels he was so clever to steal this bottle from his dad’s wine-collection. He feels light in his head. The world is spinning, he feels good and he never wants to stop feeling like that.
1998 – 16 years old - drugs
Justin sits motionless, every movement would break the spell he’s under. This is no longer a tree-house, but a doorway to another world. He’s not sure what his friend has given him, but the entire world is a kaleidoscope of colours. The orchards emanate layers of pink and purple with dashes of bright red.
The field of grass is greener than ever before and the ranch is no longer a brown structure, but enhanced with blue and green and occasionally yellow. It is as if he can hear the birds even better, oh, how they sing in the trees. The sky is even more blue and the little clouds in the distance are even fluffier, if that is at all possible.
He can’t move, he just wants to close his eyes and float away on the peaceful, calm waves that are around him. He can feel the sun touch his face, it is warm and gentle. He feels one with everything around him and he knows at this moment, he really shouldn’t feels so good.
August 2007 – 25 years old – coffee.
There’s no safe place anywhere, he knows. This is after all Iraq, not America. He drinks his coffee and paces the floor
“Justin! Sit down! Conserve your energy for later on.” That was what Charlie had said to him last night...
Last night... Charlie was still alive. Last night... Charlie had played with some of the kids in the village. Last night .... Charlie had laughed out loud as the kids used him like a ride in Disneyland. Last night.... Charlie and he had daydreamed over opening a shop near the beach and selling surf-boards...
But that was last night.... Today Charlie died. He died ten feet away from him, while Justing was trying to save some other kid. He had seen Charlie fall, but Charlie... Charlie was this big man. Strong as an ox. He’d take a bullet for anyone of his platoon... A guy like Charlie... they don’t die ...
Not ten feet away from you.... Not quietly... Without a sound.... Alone.... Guys like Charlie should go home and get at medal, not go home in a coffin.... Justin’s hands tremble. For a moment he considers drugs or alcohol, but he knows he can’t. He shouldn’t. Charlie wouldn’t want him to.
Besides, Justin doesn’t want to sleep, he doesn’t want to dream. He’s afraid that Charlie will come and ask him why Justin let him die... And he will have no other answer than “sorry”... He takes another cup of coffee... He can’t sleep. Not tonight ... He can’t handle the feelings.
2008 – 26 years old – bicycle
The wind swishes along his ears. The helmet is tightly bound. His legs go up and down, his knee needs the exercise. His muscles burn, but he pushes on and on. Faster and faster. The handlebar trembles under the rocky road, but Justin keeps cycling. His stare is on something on the far horizon.
He can’t think of anything else when he’s on his bike. He can block out his growing feelings for Rebecca, what if she’s really not his sister? He can block out his shock at the idea that his mother almost went away with Isaac. He can block out the terrible memories of Charlie and others lost in Afghanistan and Iraq.
And he can taste the dust on his tongue, he can smell the dried up grass along the road, he can feel the sting in his eyes where the salty drops of sweat seep in, he can hear the music on his headphone and he see the ‘finish’-line approach and he feels more alive than ever.