Major (capital “M”) angst and have tissues at the ready for this story.
And stopped when he saw who was on the other side. He had to force himself to remember how to breathe, how to think. Hayden’s brother, Isaiah, was a slightly taller, older version of his… late lover. Isaiah wore a similar leather jacket, even in May like Hayden used to wear. The jeans had always been a bit more battered, shoes the same sneakers that were worn in the garage and, so, were always covered in grease, but the t-shirt, which boasted a picture of Mario and Luigi, was clean.
“I…” Ian had to clear his throat. “Isaiah.”
“Hi, Ian. How… how are you?”
Ian took a deep breath. “Awake,” he answered and a look crossed Isaiah’s eyes that made Ian think Hayden’s brother might understand.
Isaiah nodded. “I came by now because I thought you might not be here. I’d intended to leave something with your mom, so you wouldn’t… have to see me.”
Ian swallowed, fought a new set of tears then forced himself to breathe again. When he had control, he said, “It’s… okay. Can I help you with something?”
“Ian?” Mrs. Kelley asked, approaching the door.
Her appearance reminded Ian that they were standing in the doorway. “OH, I’m sorry, Isaiah, please, come in.” Ian shook his head at himself then stepped back and looked toward his mom. She had a flour spot on her forehead and it made him smile. “You, um…” he started and reached forward to wipe it off.
His mom stared at him a moment and he saw her eyes brighten. “Um, hello Isaiah. If… you’ll excuse me, I’m, um, cooking,” she said and spun on her heel and hurried back to the kitchen. Ian watched her take off, another spike of regret going through him. He shoved it aside to turn back Isaiah.
He stepped through the door and looked uncomfortably from Ian to the spot where his mother had just been. “Um…” He paused. “Oh, right.” He dug something out of his pocket and held it out.
Ian stared at it a moment, not comprehending. He looked from the item dangling from Isaiah’s hand up to his face and back to the ring hanging from one finger. There was a key on it. “Um… I— Isaiah?”
“Hayden’s Jeep. I fixed it up and thought you… thought it might be good for you to have it.”
Ian swallowed and slowly extended his hand toward the key. He wrapped numb fingers around it and Isaiah let go. His eyes fell to his palm and stared for a moment at the piece of metal. “The Jeep?”
“Yeah, I… figure it… it might, I don’t know… just… thought you should have it.” He finished and shifted his weight from foot to foot.
Ian looked up at Isaiah again. “Um, I don’t know what to say.”
Isaiah shrugged one shoulder. “Don’t need to say anything. Just take care of it.”
Ian nodded, feeling like his head was disconnected from his body. “Um…”
“We can worry about the paperwork and stuff later, if you want.”