This story came from two places 1) Wondering what the real story is around Cain and Abel of Genesis fame and 2) An episode on “Lucifer” that had a very different perspective on the tale. Updating my version to the present, I give you “Brothers”.
She lay there, looking at her sons. Wondering, yet knowing how it came to this.
“Are you sure you should have children?” Her doctor asked fifteen years ago. A lifetime of appointments, multiple prescriptions, breakdowns and calls to 911 and she still didn’t know herself.
“It’s not working.” She told him. “We haven’t gotten anywhere. I need to do something different.”
“Having children isn’t going to solve your problems.”
She understood his concerns. She was not in any way stable. Diagnosed with multiple disorders. None of them bad enough to force her into a hospital. A free agent.
She walked into that bar with intention. The bar was over a hundred miles away from Denver. Far enough to be anonymous. Plenty of men to choose from. Plenty of opportunities to find the best man.
He came up behind her and whispered in her ear, laughing when she jumped. A ruffian. A handsome ruffian. He’s in disguise, he told her. He’s writing a novel, his own story, and he wanted to come out and be among humans. To learn. And maybe experience. He whispered softly again, words unintelligible.
He’ll do, she thought, and took him to the motel where she was registered under a false name.
And there it began…
Twins. One dark with the soul of an angel. Leo, was born first. The other so light that people were dazzled to the point that he himself, who he was, was invisible. They could not directly see him. Nick.
She saw them both for who they were and loved them for it.
She reveled in the antics of Nick. He could get away with anything, and did, often at the expense of Leo. Leo who was blamed for every theft, fire, and freakish deviance that Nick committed. How could it be Nick? He who is so light?
Leo took the blame. He told his mother that Nick couldn’t help it. Nick needed him to help him find his way, and until he did, Leo would stay in the shadows and bear the burden. And so, he did.
She was in awe of both of her sons, saw herself in both of them. Both so clear in her mind, stable in who they were. One seemingly so good, but dark inside. The other dark, with an infinite heart, full of love for his wayward brother.
She saw herself in both of them, but she was neither. The doctor was right. Having kids didn’t solve her own problems. She found herself wanting what they had. Envious of their certainty of their own selves. Bitter that she could only experience her own self, through them. Especially since her own self was so unstable, after all, the prescriptions didn’t go away when she had Leo and Nick.
She pitted them against each other. To Nick, she said that Leo’s acceptance of the blame was weak and that he deserved to take the blame. To Leo, she said that it was his responsibility, as the older son, to help Nick in any way he could.
When Nick spray-painted the side of the courthouse, it was Leo who did the community service. When Nick broke into the neighbor’s garage and tore the place apart, it was Leo who cleaned it up. When Nick shoplifted the carton of Camels, it was Leo who had to pay for them. And so, it went…
One day she came home to find the TV and the computer gone. The emergency fund she’d had hidden in the refrigerator was gone. And someone had peed in the corner.
Nick pointed at Leo. She looked at Leo who, shook his head. He was not to blame. She looked back at Nick. She saw him for what he was, completely, for the first time in her life, and she pitied him.
Nick, looking into his mother’s face, saw that it was over. Enraged, he took a knife from a drawer and thrust it into her. As she fell to the floor, Leo pushed Nick out of the way, pulled the knife from her body and thrust it into Nick.
She lay there, looking at her sons. Nick dead and Leo crying over him. She faced the full truth and knew that Leo would take the blame for all of it. And as her eyes closed for the last time, she finally knew herself.