We were sitting in the car, my mom, my brother and I, and we were taking him to work. He had lost his license years prior through some bad decisions and was working at the local factory for the time being. What he did I don't pretend to know. It was a job he would keep for a month or two and that was all there was to it. I was majoring in Biochemisty at a college four or five hours away and rarely came home, which was good because it kept us and our animosityu towards one another from being in the same room or car too often. But of course it had to happen sometimes.
He was sitting in the car bugging mom to buy him cigarettes and I was staring out the window looking over the town that used to be my home. Mom caved as she always did, adamantly refusing in the beginning but it was always a given that she would give him what we wanted. I was the baby by birth. He was her baby by selection.
We got his cigarettes at some rundown gas station off the main drag and turned down a road full of pothouses, empty fields, and abandoned houses. Sitting on its broken throne under a pile of grey, polluted clouds was the factory. It didn't take me long to figure out my brother worked in the land of promise.
The car dove down into a pothole as we made it into the parking lot of the ugliest biege building I had ever seen. Mom handed my brother a few bucks for dinner and he grabbed his safety glasses. Before he opened the door he warned my mom, "Now don't shout anything out of the window." I smirked to myself. He sounded like a thirteen year old boy being dropped off on the first day of school.
Jokingly, I added "Do it, Mom. Tell him. 'Do Momma proud!'" It was a phrase she had always used to torture us as kids in front of our friends and I'll admit I wasn't altogether unwilling to see my brother revealed for the child he was.
He gripped the head rest of his seat with an ugly, pale white hand that looked more like something Beowulf might have found laying on the tavern floor. "If she does I'll fucking beat you in your ugly face."
This time I was not joking. I was out for blood. I looked at my mother who was peoplewatching out her window. She watched people wearing workbelts like they were the most enthralling creatures she'd ever been priveleged to witness. "Do it Mom."
He got out of the car and I opened my door to crawl in the front seat. He warned me. "If she does I swear to God I'll pop you one"
I defiantly stepped past him and got into the car beside my mother. I wasn't twelve years old anymore. As manfully as he could he walked up to a picnic table where a few uninterested but nevertheless observative workers smoked. Mom started the car.
"I'm telling you now, if I ever make something of myself I'll make sure you are always well provided for but if you ever give anything to the worthless, lazy, mean ass of a son you'll never see another dime."
"Don't call your brother that."
"No, I'm serious. He's the reason I'm sleeping on a damn couch."
"You chose not to live with us."
"Ok, whatever Jess. I tried."
"And that's why it stopped, right?" I gave her a look of disgust and then turned my attention to the clouds outside. It looked like rain, a storm maybe. I loved a good storm so long as I could get out of it and watch. "No, he's neither my father, nor his father. He just has the worst aspects of both of them and the merits of neither."
"Oh stop. Even though you and Trevor fight you both love each other."
I let out a sick, sardonic laugh. "If that's your definition of the word despise then so be it."
My mom sighed a sigh I had heard too many times, a sigh of aggravation and indecision, not change. Her phone began to ring and she said a few words and turned the car on.
"Your brother's forgot his wallet."
"Like he needs it anyway. He's got Mommy's purse."
She ignored me. As we drove down the road my brother came into view, standing outside of hisbright future. He pulled his cigarette away from his mouth long enough to spit a hocker on the sidewalk.
We pulled up. My side was nearest but I pointed to my mother's side. I wanted as little interaction with him as possible. Mom pressed the button in the console between us to lower her window.
"Now remember I can't pick you up later because I need to work."
"And you should apologize to your sister for threatening her." Empty words.
He looked at me with disdain. I matched his.
"No, it wouldn't mean anything from him anyways." I pushed the button to roll up her window and he walked away with no guilt whatsoever. I knew better than to expect that anyways.
We drove back down the road and I stared at the forgotten traintracks that hobbled along in our wake. Dust gave into the winds and filtered into our lungs with the air. I tasted the dirt in my mouth and knew I was more than acquainted with the grime but someday, someday I'd get completely out. I had one foot caught in those sorry tracks and the other in the road. Someday I'd get free and beige factories and potholes and crude threats and fulfilled promises would be a bitter memory, like the taste of dust in my mouth when I crossed a country road. I would always have the taste for it but someday I'd have something entirely different than this life that had picked me.