It had haunted him every day for the past six years.
He’d broken his little sister’s heart on her eighteenth birthday. Her first real day of adulthood, the day he knew she’d dreamt of since they were young. The day she no longer would live by their rules, the day she would finally be heard and the day they’d finally make their escape. However, they never did.
He loved her so deeply. He never planned on hurting her the way that he had. It made him physically sick when he thought about how much pain he had caused her. It crippled him. She was rooted deep in his heart and it was his job to protect her from the day she was born, that’s what older brothers’ do. They give hope when there is none. Every time she crossed his mind, it was as though someone was clenching his heart with an iron fist. His chest would tighten, his lungs froze and his breath became trapped. Suffocating him with the very thing that was meant to keep him alive.
He was riddled with regret from letting her down. He remembered how he looked deep into her innocent, child-like, ocean blue eyes when he had made the promise. It was passionate, he delivered all the hope he had in them words. It was a sincere promise. It was one he said he’d keep regardless of what would come. The same promise he then went and broke. The promise which had undoubtedly grown to break her heart on the day she turned eighteen. She went to the location where they were meant to meet and she waited. She waited until she realised that her brother was never coming. She’d risked everything for him and he had no way of telling her what happened that night.
He sighed. It was too late now. She wouldn’t forgive him. She was twenty-four and he’d been out of her life for too long. She was a grown adult and she was independent. She didn’t need that older brother anymore.
He splashed his face with fresh, cold water, before catching his reflection in the mirror hanging above the sink. The image he saw, he didn’t recall. Curious, he examined the scar on his left cheek, centimeters below his eye. He flinched at the pain, it was still tender. His head began to pound and then his heart thumped into action. He’d struggled to recall the 48 hours after he’d said goodbye to his sister.
Now, his memory was coming back.
Now, he was being reminded.
The men. The pain. The threats.
His heart was racing, he was breathing heavy. Holding his head with trembling hands he closed his eyes tight, trying to stop the haunting visions of that night from returning. Moments after he left his sister, they’d caught him. The pain he encountered that night was scarring, both physically and mentally. As the memories came back, felt the slice of the sharp blade against his face, cutting deep into his skin. Confused, he desperately protected the scar on his cheek, he let out a distressed gasp. That’s how he got the scar….
His blood sweltering against his sensitive bruised skin as it ran down his face. He was struggling to determine the difference between the visions and present. They held his head as they cut and he cried out in agony, but they did not stop.
He fell to the floor, shaking his head violently but the memories wouldn’t leave.
They never left.
They haunted him.
Just like her. They haunted him.
It was a vicious cycle.