He stands at the door of the studio; keys in one hand, coffee in the
She said to go and he went.
He went, and he left her, and now he's standing outside the studio with keys in one hand and coffee in the other and he can
hear them laughing inside and the distant strains of Nick fiddling with the guitar and all he can think is that he shouldn't
be here because it feels wrong. It feels wrong to be here when she's back home, having scones with adversity and sipping
tea with a silence that holds nothing but sadness.
Deep down, he wants to work.
needs to work.
Anything to keep that one word from reverberating against the stone walls of
He takes a deep
breath and closes his eyes to regain his bearings.
He knows he has to tell them.
He has no idea what to say.
"Hey, guys, I'm going to have to take the morning off tomorrow."
looks up with interest. "Yeah? Why?"
Nick feigns shock and amazement. "You're...you're taking a morning
off? You? The self-professed workaholic with no human impulses to speak of?"
At the time, he'd
been shocked by the sudden extent of Nick's vocabulary. Now, he's struck by the cruel irony of his younger brother's
teasing. Nothing like a cancer diagnosis to
put a dent in your stoicism.
He's been crying since he left the house. He wonders if they'll notice.
He knows they'll notice. He just doesn't know
what to say.
He glares at Nick. "Look,
it's important, okay? Mik has a doctor's appointment, and I promised her I'd go with her."
Brian glances sideways,
suddenly interested in the conversation. "Is there something wrong, or is it just a routine check-up?"
"Routine check-up, I guess, but she specifically asked me to come along."
Nick looks remotely apologetic, and Howie furrows his brow sympathetically. "Go
ahead and take the morning, Kev. We'll be fine here. Give Mikayla our love, okay?" and Nick nods emphatically.
wishes he'd known sooner. Maybe he would've been prepared. Or at least less taken by surprise.
It was supposed to be benign, she'd told him on the
way home. They said it didn't look like anything serious.
He wishes he'd said something in return. He just didn't know what to say.
His hands are shaking as he pushes the door open.
expects the laughter to stop, expects the music to cadence and their smiles to fall and the room to fade and the earth to
stop spinning on its axis. Instead, the laughter fades slowly, and Brian turns to him with a broad smile.
man, nice of you to show up. How'd the appointment go?"
He doesn't know what to say, so he repeats the one word
that has permeated his consciousness since the doctor first gave it breath.
And it happens. Time stops.