“The guy changed his mind, Jack. They haven’t done multiple personalities since you were born.”
“We’re watching history then. Actors probably miss doing multiple personalities; I would.”
Nikki popped open the front door, spilling groceries. “Why aren’t you guys riding bikes?”
Gathering loose fruit by the stairs, I pointed at Jeremy, her husband, the drug-hating pharmacist. Whereas, Nikki would let me get high, providing I did it in secret.
The year before our dad had killed himself and our mom in a head-on collision. The other driver was a guy my age, Andrew Somebody. He died, too, sneaking out at night without a learner’s permit. But he wasn’t drunk. No one ever said anything, but our dad was always drunk.
So at sixteen, I had to move in with my brother and Nikki. I went from St. Louis to Cow-town, Illinois; left varsity basketball, my friends, this girl Alex. Yet I did way better than Jeremy who screamed in his sleep, when he slept, which was never.
I helped Nikki put away the groceries and she shook a milk carton at me. “Make him go bike riding.”
She stomped into the room, still holding the milk. Jeremy flicked the TV’s volume up to the top. Opening the back door, I smoked while they argued.
“What difference does it make, Nikki?”
“Difference isn’t the point.”
Something shattered and Nikki called me into the room. One of them had thrown the fern against the wall, smashing the planter. But Nikki had won.
Jeremy wanted to strap the bikes onto the car or else walk them till we reached the path. But I took off before he could stop me.
We turned onto Mattis Street, which even south of the shopping strip, was busy.
Riding barely behind me, Jeremy was yelling, which was insane.
Then the air changed, color, temperature, impossible to tell. Jeremy wasn’t yelling. I looked back, and where was he?
He’d ridden into the ditch. Squatting there, his bike flung ahead, his face turned red. I tore off his helmet, he looked so terrible. He tried to talk but no words came out.
Then I was crying. My skin bouncing around, snot bubbling under my nose. “Don’t die.”
Jeremy took off my helmet and hugged me without letting go. We trembled together in the weeds and he whispered, “We’re safe, Jack. We’re both safe.”