i reached out for a brush, my arm flecked with paint--red, black, orange, yellow, purple, blue, green. i grasped it in the palm of my dirty hand, dipping it in one of the paint canisters and brushing it over the large, blank canvas. bold blue made a line, like a waterfall, down the middle. i washed the brush and looked around for another color. what next?
i heard the door slam, and i felt my heart fall. not yet. i wasn't ready. not yet. oh, please, not yet... why, why, why, why?! i had wished that this time would last forever, that they would just forget about me, and that i could just pretend that everything was going to be the same.
i didn't turn around. i reached for another brush, another color--this time bright red--and smeared it on the canvas. it wasn't pretty. it seemed real.
"sophia?" her hand was on my shoulder.
"what." it came out as a hiss, showing my distain of their decision that i knew would come.
"you're... you're coming with me. your brother's going with your dad."
i stabbed my paintbrush into the water. "i'm not leaving jason."
mom sighed. "jason will be fine. your father will take care of him."
"i'm not leaving him," i repeated. "he's too young. he needs me. i'm the only mother he's got."
i knew that my words sent a blow like a sledgehammer, but i couldn't take them back, and i didn't want to.
"you don't have a choice." her voice was harsh. "the courts had decided. i have legal rights over you, and your father has legal rights over jason."
"well it's not fair!" i slammed my hand down on the table, tears coming to my eyes and falling down my cheeks so that my vision was blurry. i got up from the chair and stumbled towards the door of my workshop.
"sophia!" i heard mom's footsteps behind me.
i pushed the door opened and ran to the house. i could see jason--frail body, eyes large and scared--standing on the porch as dad loaded his things into the car.
"jason!" i ran towards him like i would die. my little brother's eyes widened even more when he saw me.
"sophia!" he rushed off the porch and into my arms. he didn't care that i was covered in paint. he usually cared. his sweatshirt was covered in it now. but i hugged him tighter.
"it's going to be ok," i whispered. "it's going to be ok."
"sophia!" mom grabbed at my shoulder.
"no!" shrieked jason, reaching for me.
our hands reached for each other, the fingers touching. then we were both yanked away by our opposite parents. i was held, against my will, sobbing, as my brother drove away, his face horrified in the back window of the car as they slowly drove out of sight.
"don't give up hope," i whispered. "never give up hope."
* * *
eight years later
i never thought i'd hear that voice again. never again. ever. i hadn't heard that voice in eight years. i hadn't heard that voice since it last shrieked that one word that i will forever remember--no. and now i was hearing it, here, in the hospital bed? was i dreaming? could this be true?
the voice. it was so familiar, yet... older. different. my eyes flickered. in front of me was a face that i didn't know, and yet seemed so... so... close.
"who... who are you?" my voice cracked as i asked the question.
"it's me." the boy, who looked about sixteen, took a deep breath. "it's jason."
memories, thoughts, feelings whirled at me so fast that my headache came back with a vengenance. i screamed, my eyes rolling back. i could see his little face, so scared, in the back window of dad's car, all those years ago. and now he was here, right before me, with the same terrified look on his face.
"sophia, please," he begged. "remember me."
i grabbed his hand. i never wanted to let go. i never wanted him to go away. "ja...jason," i whispered. "it's... i.... i can't believe..."
his face sagged in relief. "they told me what happened. how you got hit by that car."
i took a deep breath, and then nodded. "they don't know if i'll ever walk again."
he smiled wanly. "you will. i know you will."
"how... how did you get here?" i could stop myself from asking.
"we moved into the area," jason explained. "i convinced dad to take me to see you. mom... mom told us where you were." he looked at me hesitantly. "dad... dad said we could see each other every week. if you want to."
i nodded, tears in my eyes. "of course i do. i love you, little brother."
"i love you, too, sis," he whispered, tears streaming down his face.
and once again, i held him in my arms. and we were safe.
a little sad, fictional story for you \\ inspired by the picture