Brian heads home, upset with what he’s had to tell Chase. Mulling it over, he is overwhelmed with emotion, knowing what he’s asked of his friend. But he knows that the words came from the Powers That Be, and he had no choice. As he lies in bed, his phone, which he thought was off, rings.
“Brian.” The gruff, bass voice was full of concern. “You’re on my mind, son. What’s got you out of sorts?”
With a sob, Brian told his grandfather everything. He wasn’t sure how coherent he was, but he had to unload everything that was on his mind.
“So, you’ve given your friend the worst ultimatum in the world.”
“Did it kill him?”
Brian paused, unsure where the conversation was going. “No, sir. But….”
“Yes, it hurt like hell. Did it make an impression?”
“I hope so.”
“Son, you did what you had to. In our Circle, it was David with the dirty jobs. Before he was chosen to be the Voice, I had the job for awhile. It’s the worst job in the Circle, having to be the boss. Everyone looks at you for guidance, everyone blames you when things go wrong. Which they do—a lot. I didn’t want the job, and I was just as glad he took it from me a couple years later. He wanted to give it back, but I couldn’t. I’ve been in those shoes and they pinch. But you did and said what had to be. No fun being the bad guy, is it?”
“It’s worse than being a parent, and that’s the toughest job in the world.”
“Granddad, if you’d had to give up the Circle, and lost Grandmom, could you have done it?”
The old man paused, considering his words with care. This wasn’t just an idle speculation. Brian knew, his grandfather had heard the leaders speak, too.
“It would have torn out my heart to leave, to lose her. Comes a time, the woman you’re intended for, becomes a part of you. I don’t mean because of the sex—don’t lie and tell me that’s not on your mind. I mean your spirit and hers merge and you become part of each other in ways that other people will never experience. To lose that would have damn near killed me. What you’ve asked of your friends, it would tear them up plenty, but right now, they’d survive. They aren’t married yet. They aren’t fooling around. It would be hard, but it wouldn’t be impossible. Once you make love the first time, that’s pretty much it. When you marry, it’s a done deal. Can’t separate a married pair unless death takes one.”
“Do you think they can do it? Can they pull it together?”
“Given the alternative, to lose one another or to make it work, I think they’ll make it work. I’ve known Chase his entire life. Marissa, less so, but a good long time. Yes.”
“You’re only saying that because I need to hear it,” Brian stated, knowing it was true.
“Boy, you’re too damn perceptive. But I do believe they will try.”
“Why would the Circle put two people together who are so completely different?”
“That, I don’t know. I wish I had an answer. Might as well ask the sun why it shines.”
“I was just thinking that….”
“Get some sleep, Brian. You’ve got a big day tomorrow.”
“I do? What do you know that I don’t?”
“Go to sleep,” his grandfather repeated.
Brian felt his eyes grow heavy. His thumb disconnected the call and his phone bounced on the bed as he lay down, falling into a deep sleep.
Vaughn Casey held the phone to his lips, thinking. Rising with determination, he walked into the living room from his study. His wife looked up, concerned.
“Brian needs our help.”
She looked at her watch and got up. “Well, don’t just stand there, Old Man. Let’s pack.”
Smiling, he followed her to their room, admiring the way she moved so spryly around the room, folding shirts and socks for packing. He pulled out the luggage, helping her gather what they needed. Once they were packed, he grabbed the car keys and they were on the road within the hour. Setting out at 10:00 on a weeknight seemed a bit odd to them both, but they felt compelled to go. Relaxing behind the wheel, Vaughn pushed a CD into the player. The strains of Echoes by Pink Floyd, filled the car.
Brian’s alarm woke him at 6:00. He rolled over, turning it off. His body felt well rested and relaxed. He got up and dressed, going down to breakfast with a smile on his face. He was alone in the kitchen, since his parents slept in until 7:00, unless Elise woke them. Moving about as quietly as he could, he prepared his breakfast and went to pick up Jordan. It was unusually dark that morning, the sky overcast. Thunder rumbled and he saw lightning playing in the clouds. Sending out feelers, he determined that it was simply a late summer storm and not an attack by the dark. Having been attacked by the elements more than once, every time they got a storm, he worried.
© 2018 Dellani Oakes