‘ I know it’ll be hard, I’m not completely oblivious, but I’m optimistic, and it’s gonna be hard and I’ll have to starve some days, but it’s really gonna be worth it to make it up there with the greats. I’m gonna do this and I’m gonna do it right.’ Billy said, as he got on his sailboat. ‘Also, don’t tell mum and dad til I’m there, don’t wanna worry them.’
‘I have full confidence you can do it. Good luck, I’ll see you on TV sometime.’ Bren retorted, watching as his brother uncoiled the ropes to sail away into the unknown, all the way to London. He was jealous that his brother had that ambition and he looked up to him more than anyone could know for that.
‘Make sure you don’t get that wet.’ Bren exhaled between shivering breaths, the rain starting to catch on and splattering both their pale faces with droplets. He pointed to the large gourd shaped case sitting askew at one side of the boat.
‘Mate thanks, don’t know how my plan was ever gonna work without my guitar,’ Billy chuckled, as he draped some tarp over it and his belongings to keep them from getting wet.
‘Well, I’ll see you around.’ Billy moved forward for a handshake, only to find himself pulling his brother into one strong, goodbye hug. They stayed like that for a second longer than strangers would, and parted with a bittersweet smiles.
The imprint from Bren’s hands on Billy’s suede jacket slowly matted with rain.
They shared a smile as Billy turned the boat around, the roaring engine pushing him off the pier. He glanced one last glance at the sight of his brother’s figure getting smaller and smaller the further he travelled, and felt how lucky he was to have someone so supportive.
The next morning, Bren woke up to the news that someone drowned in a particularly deep area of the ocean near their island. This was a small town, so he was identified immediately.
They’d managed to find a picture of Billy very quickly, and as the picture flickered up onto the TV screen, all Bren could do was sit by the television and hope that the sound of the static would get so loud that he wouldn’t be able to see anymore.
‘-he waves buffetting the ship until it heaved over and capsized, both Billy and his guitar, amps and cables submerged underwater. ‘
Bren was mixing his own headlines and reporting with the TV, he didn’t know what was real anymore. Billy was a dreamer, he knew everything about life and what he wanted to do, but Bren knew nothing and was still carving out his own path. Maybe if Bren’s ideas fell through, he would be able to join his brother in London and busk with him. Even if Billy wasn’t successful, in Bren’s eyes, that was the best place to be.
And it was all gone, like that. Like a flicker of hope sizzling out between two spit-ridden fingers of some higher fate.
The phone rang. His parents were at work, he wondered if they got the news yet.
A loud wailing from the other side of the line confirmed that they did, and for the first time since he was a child, Bren staggered up to his room, bolted the door shut, and muffled his voice underneath the duvet. Billy’s bed lay empty next to him.