Whispers

Travis Beer playfully ruffled his younger brother’s mop of blonde hair. The younger sibling, Jake, just grinned from ear-to-ear, no tattle telling, no complaining to mum.

That’s what Travis liked best about his brother, the fact that Jake wasn’t a sneak. Travis heard his mum bellow their names, calling them down for lunch. He shoved random odds-and-ends into a chest of drawers before trotting down the carpeted stairs, two-at-a-time. As usual, Jake mumbled some excuse or the other. To Travis, Jake seemed like he survived on candy dispenser chewing-gum and tomato crisps. In fact, Jake had ditched lunch so frequently in the past that his mother had stopped enquiring about his absence.

‘You have a doctor’s appointment today, Travis,’ Mrs. Linda Beer began, daintily chopping up clusters of coriander and sprinkling it over an appealing veggie salad. ‘Oh… okay t..then,’ Travis stammered. He was used to “doctor’s appointments.” You see, he had dyslexia, a syndrome that made him unable to read. To add to that, he had a wild -almost dangerous- imagination that made him believe in things that simply didn’t exist.

It was because of these genetic traits that he had inherited from his ancestors that he was mercilessly taunted by his peers, but his strong character helped him laugh off the hurtful remarks.

Travis’s dad, Liam, clanked down the stairs from his study and plonked himself down on one of the chairs that surrounded the lovely, polished teak dining table. He hardly ever spoke to Linda any more, and so Travis took that as a sign that his parent’s were breaking up.

With an exaggerated sigh, Travis recalled the happy days when his parents, Jake and he himself were as close knit a family there ever was. Nowadays, Liam didn’t even mention his youngest son or his wife. He didn’t even eat the food Linda prepared for him, just tinned sardines and T.V dinners. As a result, Linda just made food for herself and ate at any nook or cranny around the house where Liam was not likely to chance upon.

Liam rapidly scoffed down the microwave pasta and gruffly announced that at 5:00 pm they would have to travel to Main Street for a psychiatrist check-up. Travis nodded his head while wiping of the last bits of noodle. Liam pushed his chair and strode over to the drawing room where he switched on their 42 inch telly.

Travis dumped the trays into the kitchen sink and nipped to his room. He slammed the poster-clad door shut and flopped on the bed. Jake emerged from the wardrobe with a BRAINFREEZE smoothie in one hand and a PSP in the other.

The afternoon passed in a flash. The two brothers played violent games on their play station and stuffed themselves with caramel popcorn. Their joyful moment ended when Liam barged into the room. He ignored Jake, as usual, and commanded Travis to put on his coat.

Travis scrambled down the steps and pulled on a sweater as well as his black Doc Martens. He followed his father to the car and they were soon pulling up in front of “Dr. Jarvis’s Nursing Home.” Travis walked into the looming building and made a beeline for the receptionist. He told her the reason for his visit and the scheduled time of the appointment. She glanced at the register, mumbled something into a cordless receiver and then ushered Liam and Travis into a parlour with “JARVIS” embossed on the front door.

Inside, the chamber boasted an array of gold-plated certificates and two gleaming trophies. Travis sighed for the second time that afternoon as he seated himself on one chair.

After exchanging introductions, Liam and Dr. Jarvis talked in hushed tones. Travis let his mind wander. He thought about his mum and his little brother. How they used to be so bold and confident but had recently become withdrawn and private. Travis wished his mother was sitting next to him at that very moment. He would’ve flung his arms around her and never let go.

Travis also recognised the change in his father. Liam a man who used to be just and cheerful had suddenly developed a gloom about him. He seldom spoke and had abandoned his passion for football months ago.

Travis snapped back into the real world when he heard his father mention his mother’s name. He unscrambled bits of the exchange between his dad and the accomplished doctor. ‘Car accident…three months have passed but… Linda and Jake…’ Mr. Beer said, trailing off. Travis wished he’d heard the full sentence. Maybe then he’d be able to understand a little more about the ongoing conversation.

Dr. Jarvis finally cleared his throat and said, ‘Travis? Would you mind sitting on that chair over there?? I’d like to ask you a few questions.’ Travis seated himself on the sofa that Dr. Jarvis had gestured to and deftly answered while Dr. Jarvis interrogated. It seemed to Travis that Jarvis was psycho-analysing him.

At the near end of the session, Dr. Jarvis related an accident that had occurred a few months ago. Travis nodded his head vigorously. His father had narrated that particular accident many a time, but he wasn’t sure why.

‘The reason I’m telling you this is because,’ Dr. Jarvis began, directing his sentences. ‘Your mum and your brother and your brother were in that car when it flipped into the lake. They died three months ago.’

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