Mick was 8 when he first fell from his bike, he remembers because it wasn’t like those times he fell head first and woke up on the couch at home a couple of hours later, he was already immediately aware, he reached out with his hands to break the fall and came out with a few tiny marks on his hands along with a cut knee. His Dad came running over in worry, he was going to pick up his son, brush his clothes and take him home. His sister wrapped up his knee in a bit of cloth and tape from the store as soon as he got home, she always took care of him since their mother had passed when he was 3 and she was 9. Mick doesn’t remember much about his mum, Vicky except that she loved him whole, his sister; Bethany knew the same as did his father, Darrell. Although the kids lost their mother, Darrell married another lady. Julie was her name, pretty little thing.
Darrell had different standards when Vicky parted from him, he was fixed on distracting himself with a pretty face, but it came with the price of negligence, not from Darrell. Julie wasn’t the mothering type, she wanted to see her friends over a few exotic cocktails to talk about her new handbag and designer jeans that she charmed Darrell into buying for her, the things they whisper into their husbands ears in the store prove quite provoking on more than one occasion. Julie ran him down for almost every penny he had, she didn’t care, as far as she was concerned, she had to be happy and Mick’s father always somehow had the answer. Julie never bothered to ask how Mick or Bethany’s days were, or what their favourite food is, or where they think the sun goes when the sky gets dark, the odd ‘how do I look?’ sprung from her mouth from time to time but that’s as much as she’d mother them, they quickly began to hate her. She never even cooked, what she did with her day besides going out was waiting for her nails to dry whilst reading magazines and being as superficial as humanity can be.
Darrell worked at the Quarry right around the block as project manager and always left work early to cook the kids a dinner, and pick up the wife from her friends houses, this day in particular he took the day off because last weekend his sister bought Mick a new bike and Darrell had promised him that he would take him to ride it soon, and that day came. That night in particular, he cooked Mick’s favourite dish, Spaghetti Bolognese, the kids were ecstatic but Julia frowned as she was served, she ate dinner no questions asked but they argued in the bedroom later on. Those nights Mick wouldn’t sleep, the shouting would scare him so he’d walk into Bethany’s room, nudge her calmly and tell her he’s scared, Bethany would ask why and then tell him to sleep next to her so she could “protect” him.
When Mick was 11, he watched a documentary on the luxuries of having a well payed, tech related job, and with all the gizmo’s his mum left laying around the house, he found this to be quite the exciting career path, he spoke to the teachers in his school and found a pathway academy to get him on the right course. Everything about the course was right, the work, the hours, the location, but it takes money that him or his dad didn’t have, he asked the local community centre and travelled around the elderly people’s homes to ask for help but he always came back with a sad face, and Bethany would ask what was wrong every time. Soon after, Bethany woke him up one day in the summer holding a huge bag of lemons and told him “Let’s sell some lemonade” which is what they did, everyday in summer, even 3 months over that, they did it every day till they earned the money Mick needed for the right-path course he wanted to get into.
They both boasted about it to Darrell who was more than proud of them, but he also had Julie chipping at his spine demanding that he buys her some expensive brooch she saw passing by some store up in town and he always told her they couldn’t afford it but it didn’t stop her, day after day, night after night, she kept on going off at him about it. It broke his heart, all he wanted to do was make his kids happy and have a loving wife who would cook and clean while he was at work. A few days down the line he couldn’t take the agony of his wife’s voice anymore and that was the last conversation he ever had with Julie because he knelt down to the floor clutching his chest with his right arm and his left hung down from his shoulder looking like dead meat, he was having a heart attack at the heat of the moment and Mick was standing in the arched way watching his Dad stagger on the floor and Julie stood there with her arms crossed hissing a quiet snarl. Bethany tried to cover Mick’s eyes but it was already too late, the scar had already been made.
At the age of 12, Mick was living with Julie’s Mum with Bethany, while Julie strolled out day to day to see her friends. Mick didn’t aspire to be a technician or engineer as he once did since his father passed, Bethany was working locally at the diner trying to save up to get a flat to take Mick to, in her free time she took him to the park every chance she had, she was afraid that too much time around Julie’s mum may make Mick superficial like his step mother.
One day at the park, while Julie was on the bench with her cheap sunglasses and newspaper, Mick wondered off with a few of the kids he befriended at the swings and after sword fighting with a pair of branches they picked up, they all got into a game of spin the bottle and one of the kids asked everyone what they want to be when they grow up, one of the kids said he wanted to be an astronaut, another said a champion of something, another a footballer and the last said he wanted to be rich so he could take care of his family because they took care of him, Mick’s turn arrived to answer and he paused for a few minutes and looked at Bethany, who he had noticed were watching them and smiled and him, He looked back at the boy who asked the question and said “I want to be an engineer”
He began the career path-way course and spent a lot of times with the friends he made in the park and studying, at first he found it tough because it had been a while since he’d studied or did any academic work but a few weeks later he was already burning through the work, he found it challenging but easy and fun, on the odd occasion he’d ask Bethany for her help when he studied in the apartment that she gathered enough money to rent out.
At the time Bethany had met someone who asked to take her somewhere nice after a day at work, this began to happen a lot leaving Mick at home to study alone, he was still young so he always worried and wouldn’t go to bed till Bethany was home, some nights he’d fall asleep at his desk while studying and she’d carry him to bed and kissed his forehead goodnight, Mick would know because the journey from his desk to his bed would wake him slightly.
Years down the line when Mick had just finished his final examinations at University and hadn’t seen his sister in 8 months, he returned home to his apartment filled with his auntie, her kid, his step-mother and her mother and 2 of her friends, and a few kids from the park grown up, it was his welcome back party, they sat in the living room, laughing and talking while drinking cheap bottles of wine and champagne, Julie sat in the corner with her friends looking miserable, drinking some martini’s she made herself for her and her friends. After the night and the hangover, he was spent his time, sleeping, eating, cooking and answering phone calls to job interviews, Mick was an exceptional student, a marvellous student, he had the second to best grades in many of his classes with the rest being high to, many large companies wanted to employ him. For Mick it came down to 2 jobs, one with Apple who were willing to give him a lot of money for a comforting set of hours working on their computers and peripherals, and another with a company who worked on making much cheaper products that worked near the same as leading products for people that weren’t well off, or had much money to spend.
The two places wanted him, he had to choose, so he took the option with Apple obviously, it was the sweeter deal, in a matter of years he worked up the ladder, more money, bigger titles, bigger house, more things to toy with, he wanted his sister to live with him, he even made her new fiancé move in with him to keep her around, he wanted to throw all of these nice things at Bethany to thank her, show her that he loves her, to boast most of all.
Mick had a long day one night and came home late to his sister sitting on the couch drinking wine by herself, He approached her and asked “What’s the occasion?”, Bethany responded “I’m not getting married” Mick asked about it and she told him that she was just diagnosed with adrenal cortical carcinoma, the same thing that took their mother and she didn’t want to leave anyone while she was committed to them. There was an immediate silence between them, the only sounds made were her sipping the wine out of her glass and Mick’s footsteps as he walked over the Bethany to have some wine and cry with her.
Mick didn’t sleep that night, he was silently panicking alone, afraid to lose the only person he loves. Mick was flush, so he did all he could, he flew in all the best doctors, read all the books, kept Bethany company, he took her to every chemotherapy session and doctor appointment up until she was on her bed, weak and tired, Mick stayed next to her in the hospital through 3 nights before she passed. He didn’t seem so sad this time, he walked out of that hospital with sheer determination in his eyes; like there is something he needs to do.
He first phoned everyone they both knew to share the news and told them all that they would see him at her funeral but after that, they wouldn’t reach him for a while. Mick got a lot of phone calls from his colleagues at work after he quit his job at Apple and re-applied to the eco-friendly and cheap organisation who wanted him before, and they gave him the job almost immediately. He started from the bottom again but he didn’t care, he was determined to do what he does best, perform.
At Bethany’s funeral, he hosted it in an expensive black slim suit, black skinny tie and a regular white dress shirt that housed collar clips, he sat with a group of friend silently, drinking endless supplied of wine, even when people made their farewell speeches, Mick made a farewell speech “I’ve drunk a lot so I’m sorry if I don’t say some of the words, just know that I mean them. I’ve known Bethany my whole life, and the saddest thing about Bethany’s death is that everything that ever brought me joy could never be compared to what Bethany brought home. I mean I never knew my mum, she died when I was 3, all I remember about her were all the times she held me, and kissed me and played with me, and I remember my dad for a short period in my life to, and he was always set on making me the happiest little kid in the world, and he did, he gave me the time I needed and wanted, he always knew the right time to be there, and he was amazing, but Beth did all of that and more, I never knew my family as well as I did Beth, but what I do know is, that everything that I’ve achieved was all inspired by her, she gave me these feelings that made me helpless, and the only way I wouldn’t was to move forward and.. *breaks into tears* no one will ever do that for me… ever again,” Mick fell to his knee’s holding his hands on his face with this high pitched cry and he began to repeat under his breath “I love you, Bethany I love you so much.” most of Mick’s friend ran on the stage to comfort him and carry him off but he pulled away and said he wasn’t done, he walked over to the mic and looked into the sky and said “Beth, you’ve made me so happy, but you have to go away from here now and be happy yourself, you will always be a story to tell to my kids and my grand kids, always.”
That night after the funeral, his friends brought him home completely drunk and put him to bed, the next morning he woke up with a hangover, made himself an omelette and ironed out a brown tweed suit, his casual wear, no tie and he watched TV for a few hours while his hangover disappeared. At 6, his watch began to ring and he left, he took a cab up to Bethany’s favourite restaurant that he liked taking her to and he sat down opposite a lusciously beautiful woman, she wore a black shoulder string dress that was tailored perfect to her body, she had perfectly laid out brown hair, curled at the tips, and she had these cute faint freckles and you could tell she was proud of them. Her name was Sally and she had perfectly positioned and sized dimples that appeared at the right times.
They had been seeing each other for quite a while and Sally was up to date with his life, even his sister. Mick told her about his speech which she boldly asked to hear, it was one of the things that Mick really liked about her, she wasn’t afraid to know what she wanted to know so he gave her the speech and that started the night, at dessert when they were engaged in speaking through their eyes, Mick mentions then that they’re sitting in Bethany’s favourite restaurant, “She has great taste” Sally replied, “Tell me more about her.”
"Okay well, when I was 10, I wanted to go ride my bike but the only time I was allowed to, was in the sight of my dad because we lived in a neighbourhood that was considered notorious for bike thefts ha. At the time my dad was at work and my step mum was busy plucking her eye brows so Beth told me to go get the bike quietly and that she’d take me, ohh man I was so desperate at the time, I’d have made an imaginary Dad to take me was how bad I wanted to ride that bike. So anyway, I remember I was circling the block for about an hour and then these kids asked to look at the bike and naive as I was, I let them, I remember, one was really scruffy like he gave up on washing his clothes, another was a ginger that did practically live every stereotype that exists and then there was this fat one which I was scared was going to eat me, the scruffy kid sat on my bike, he was about my age, in fact they all looked about my age, the fat one pushed me onto the ground while the scruffy one rode away with the bike, after that, I walked home crying to my sister who said she’d tell our Dad and an hour before our Dad came home, Beth saw the fat kid from earlier outside the window struggling to ride the bike and Beth ran outside and towards this kid, he panicked and fell off the bike, I was watching this whole thing, and this is the best bit, Beth just looked at him with a neutral face and then screamed ‘Roar’ into his face and the kid started crying, and she walked inside with the bike, and there’s a story about my sister"
At the end of the story, Sally had this gleam in her eyes of amazement and she wanted to know more about Bethany so she kept asking and Mick kept telling her that she’ll have to see him again to know more, she asked for another thing about Beth, the last thing. Mick couldn’t argue so he mentioned one of the nights in the hospital just before Bethany passed, he had told Sally what Bethany told him.
"On the third night I stayed by Beth, she looked at me and told me not to be sad, and to look at everything I’ve accomplished at life without anyone’s help and I said I know all of these things but through everything I’ve done, you were always at the other end waiting for me…" Sally told Mick that she was fine with leaving it there but when he fixed his voice he continued, "She made me promise her something that same night, she made me promise that I won’t stop, that I’ll keep moving forward, find something that will lighten my past and all of its hardships, so that’s why I left my executive titles back at Apple and came to work with the people I do now, I didn’t have much as a child, I never had a real mum past the age of 3, no father past the age of 13, my childhood was always the bare minimum, I had no nice things, no nice experiences or any of that, we were broke, so when Beth told me to look to my past, I wanted nice things, I wanted money in my Dad’s pocket and how many kids want the same thing today, and in the place I am now, I can do that, and I will *holds Sally’s hand* ohh and Beth told me to find someone, she called me a loner funny enough aha"
After exchanging looks they both left the place holding hands all the way to Mick’s Apartment and Sally stayed the night, eventually they got married and had kids, 1 girl and 2 boys, Lawrence, Steve and Bethany and when Mick had the family together, he’d tell his kids about their Aunt Beth who one of them were named after, the same to his grandchildren, and till the day he died, He kept a picture of him and his sister Bethany on the wall of his living room because even though materially she was gone, to him she never left.