Sacrifices Concealed

The cold wind seemed to be cutting their finger tips. Their toes were growing more numb with each crunching step into the ground, and the snow was beginning to fall again. The moon was the brightest light this Christmas Eve.

“See, Kelly,” Bobby pointed at the houses up and down the neighborhood. “Everyone has Christmas lights except for us.”

“We’ll put them up later. I don’t have a coat, and I’m cold as eff. Let’s just get rid of this damn horse before more coyotes get to it.”

Kelly continued walking towards the edge of the backyard. She was trying to blow hot air into her stone cold hands, but it wasn’t helping much. They both stopped in front of the carcass, which was still emitting hot air even though most of its insides were now gone.

“We must’ve scared the little critters away,” Bobby said.

“Let’s just throw it over the gate, and behind those bushes over there.”

Bobby took Kelly’s order as a sign that he should stop talking. So he did. He zipped up his coat, pulled his gloves back over his wrist and picked up his side of the baby horse while Kelly looked on coat less.

“You got enough of your body parts covered up to get the job done?”

“What?” Bobby shrugged his shoulders. “I’m just trying to stay warm.”

“Well, I’m glad that you’re warm.”

Kelly picked up her side, and slowly, they carried the carcass to the bush at the other end of the backyard. Bobby stepped back on his heels while Kelly pushed forward.

“Can we slow down a little” asked Bobby.

Kelly breathed out deeply and did as Bobby asked. Seeing this, Bobby felt this was the perfect opportunity to talk about their mother.

“I’m sorry about the bills, Sis.”

Kelly looked up to him with her eyes narrowed. “It’s fine, Bob. We don’t need to talk about it.”

“Yeah, I know, but I just want you to know that I never meant to leave you alone to pay for it. I was just–”

“Busy. Yeah, you’ve said that before. Listen, I told you that we don’t need to talk about it. The little bit you gave me for her funeral helped more than you think.”

The stars were gleaming in the night sky. Kelly looked up to them while Bobby looked down to the dead carcass in his hands. Once they arrived to the bush, they threw the dead horse over the gate and into the darkness of the forests.

Kelly crossed her arms tightly and started back for the house.

“I really mean it, you know?” Bobby hurried to Kelly’s side. “That I’m sorry.”

“I said that it’s fine, Bobby. Let’s just put it behind us.”

“Yeah, but I don’t think you believe me.” Bobby thought to himself for awhile, and then snapped his fingers as if he had come up with some grand idea. “I want you to accept my apology right now so that I can go on with my life.”

At that, Kelly stopped dead in her tracks and looked to Bobby in utter confusion.

“You want me to accept your apology?”

Bobby looked up and then nodded to her. “Yeess…” His answer seemed to be more of a question that he wasn’t sure that he should be asking than a for sure statement.

“Well how about this, Bobby,” Kelly’s hands were on her hips now. “I’ll accept your apology when you actually act like you’re a part of this family outside of holidays. I’ll accept your apology when you, I don’t know, come visit your two nephews who you probably can’t even name.”

Her fist were clenched now as she stepped up to Bobby. Her eyes were beginning to water, and Bobby couldn’t manage to make a sound. The sound of the wind was now whisking passed their ears.

“And you want me to accept your apology so that you can feel better about yourself? I think not. You need to live with the fact that I payed for all of Mom’s hospital bills while she was fighting for her life, and you didn’t even bother to show up to the funeral!”

“I had work–” Bobby’s voice broke, and his eyes were reddening.

“I don’t want to hear another fucking thing about that fucking job, Bobby! I know you have vacation days for that uppity ass office job of yours so don’t try to use that excuse.” Bobby was frightened at his sister’s rage. Kelly restrained herself from punching her little brother in the jaw for she knew that it would be a waste of time. She stepped back and breathed deeply instead, tears running down her face.

“Just tell me what to do,” Bobby was crying now as well.

“Try being here,” she begged. “All that we want is your time, Little Brother. That’s all that we ever wanted.”

Bobby looked to himself, and then to the starry night sky sniffling. A few moments of silence passed before Kelly spoke.

“I’ll just leave you to talk to her alone for a while.” She turned her back to him. “She is your mother after all.”

Bobby continued to look to the sky, and just before Kelly started making her way back into the house, she turned to him once more.

“And if you really cared about me, Bobby, you would’ve lended me your gloves or your coat or something. That’s the least you could’ve done tonight anyways.”

Still looking to the moon and the stars, Bobby fell to his knees in silence. Christmas lights were still resonating from the neighbors up and down the street. The coyotes howled into the dark sky.


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