Writing Prompt: I thought you were the smart one.

Morning all. It is another frosty morning here. Surprisingly I actually managed a decent night sleep so my brain is a little more awake than usual and ready to go. So very little intro to day, just setting the timer and getting going. Ready if you are joining in. Let’s go.

Oh the fun family dynamics i could have with this one. Of course I’ll have to figure out exactly what the problem is. There wasn’t quite enough time to figure that out. I think this is one of those stories that will have to percolate for a while. More like water through limestone than coffee on the stove. But I think I will end up getting back to it at some point.

Wednesday, December 2nd: I thought you were the smart one.

“I thought you were the smart one,” he sneered his parting shot. He laughed to himself as he turned away and headed towards the door. Mike watched him walk away, too stunned to say anything.

‘I am the smart one,’ he thought feebly as he heard the front door open and close.  The door was closed with more force than necessary and the window in the center rattled with the force.  The door was too thick to allow him to hear footsteps from where he stood. The thought that Mr. Nelson would stop on the doorstep, waiting like some stage villain, floated through his mind.  He couldn’t allow himself the possibility of collapse or even thought of his next steps if he thought that man would possibly return.

Mike took a deep breath and moved to the hallway.  He peered out of the living room, turning his head towards the door.  He could see no shadow through the beveled and smoked glass. Still not satisfied he moved into the hallway walking towards the door.  Half way there he realized he was tip toing and stopped.  He closed his eyes, took a deep breath and walked as normally as he could the rest of the way towards the door. 

As the window didn’t let in enough information, Mike opened the door.  He then peered through the open door to the front porch.  There was no one there.  The sidewalk was likewise empty and Mr. Nelson’s car was no longer pulled up to the curb.

Mike expelled the breath he hadn’t realized he was holding and retreated back indoors, closing the front door with less force than before.  Slowly he walked back to the living room and allowed himself the luxury of sinking into the couch. He had been standing, moving since before dawn and had not allowed himself a break.  He could not allow himself the break.  He scrubbed his hands across his face, practically feeling the exhaustion radiating out of every pore.

The truth was that each day he had been back was much the same.  He may have been the smart one but he was set a series of nearly impossible tasks and then sent to run the gauntlet between them.  Morning arrived early and bed time came late.  Meals were taken on the run and Mike planned his next day’s moves while brushing his teeth and getting ready for bed.  Thoughts circled heavily in his mind making sleep only another form of exercise.

While he was gone he was kept in the dark about the actual situation.  He was told it was much simpler, much less dire.  His family thought he was the smart one too.  Unlike Mr. Nelson who mocked him for it, his brothers tried to measure up and even surpass him.  It was why they didn’t tell him what was going on until he returned and they could no longer hide it. They each wanted to be the one to fix things. 

Mike sighed and flopped backwards onto the cushions, tilting his head back against them and looking up at the ceiling.

The truth was it wasn’t a matter of intelligence.  It wasn’t a matter of brain power but temperament that led to the situation.  His brothers were all smart, they were not just smart in a way their father recognized.  They were belittled for not fitting the mold while he was praised for meeting expectations.  It was their attempt to please their long dead father that led to this impasse, this almost impossible situation.

Mike allowed himself one small, slow smile.  “Almost impossible,” he said softly. It was the almost that had him running the gauntlet each day.  It was the almost that made him keep is mouth shut as he was mocked by Mr. Nelson.  It was the almost that he was beginning to think he could pull off.

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