Brave by Jill Waters

‘Are you going to eat that?’ asked my brother, staring longingly at the sausage roll on my plate, ‘There aren’t any more, and you know I love flaky pastry.’ 

‘Knock yourself out. I’m not hungry.’ 

‘Thanks, Sis. Not sure why, but I’m famished. Must be emotional stress or something.’ I watched as falling crumbs clung to Harry’s tie, a pastry constellation against a black silk sky. 

Looking around, I thought Mum would be pleased so many people had shown up. I didn’t recognise half of them, but they all knew who I was. I’d lost count of how many times I’d been told how proud Mum was of me, how she always showed them photos of me as I travelled the world and how she treasured the mementoes I’d sent her. I knew I should find comfort in their words but, in truth, I just felt empty. 

Harry knew Mum much better than I did. He’d never moved away, had lived at home until he was thirty and then married a girl who speedily made Mum a grandmother to two beloved girls. How many times had I mocked his lack of ambition? Told him he should be more adventurous, braver… more like me? He’d always shrugged and said, ‘That’s just me, Sis. That’s just me.’ 

When Dad died, I requested a transfer within two weeks of his funeral. I couldn’t bear to be in a town that made me feel so sad. And in the ten years since, I have seen more of the world than most people do in a lifetime - I kept moving, so the sadness couldn’t catch me. 

I ran, Harry stayed. Picking up the pieces, looking after mum, living his best life. So much braver than I could ever be. 

Published in Issue #23

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