Brandon is silent for a moment. He nods his head, looking away. “I guess that makes sense.” His voice is soft and understanding, and for some reason it makes me more sad than if he had been angry or called my reasoning ridiculous. He locks eyes with me. “Aren’t you scared though? To start over?”
I shrug. “Yes. I am. But I’m more scared not to.” Brandon looks confused. I pause, trying to gather the thoughts I have pushed to the back of my mind until now. “I’m more scared to have things keep going the way they are now – with Mom, and Dad, and even Gretchen and Andrew. And with me.”
“With you? What do you mean?”
“I just … I guess I’m just tired of feeling like a shadow. Like, I’m a shadow of what Billy was. And Katie. I’m in her shadow--“ Brandon opens his mouth to argue but I rush on “--and I’ve actually been fine with that, you know? I’ve stepped into her shadow. But now, I’m just ready to be me.”
Brandon frowns. “But you are you. And you’re awesome. I don’t think you’re giving yourself enough credit.”
“Maybe not. But I’m hoping that will change.”
Brandon sits down on the bottom porch step and looks out toward the road. “I’m going to miss you.” The sun has almost completely set. A car drives by, moving slowly through the thick evening air.
I sit next to him. “I’m going to miss you, too. But we’ll always be friends.”
We sit in silence as the rose-gray dusk shifts to black.