‘Shut up! Shut up! You’re so annoying. Why are you always talking over me when I’m trying to listen.’
Travis scolded breaking the silence of his cousin’s house. Simon had been his only relative to invite him over for the holiday festivities and although Travis was grateful he felt he could do without the lectures, after all he wasn’t in primary nor secondary education anymore and Simon most certainly was not his father.
‘Look I’m not trying got preach to you about doing better but c’mon this wasn’t the plan at all. I remember the days when you used to say you wanted to be self-employed and envisioned the legacy you would create.’
Simon looked down at the pot of food on the stove as he stirred, the motion of the spoon was very calming and this was the atmosphere that he was trying to maintain. It hurt him to see and hear that Travis was having an off day, especially since he had done so well in the weeks leading up to the the holidays. Travis chuckled repeatedly before becoming serious:
‘ I still want to have my own business though, I was actually thinking of taking a course,’ Travis replied. Simon wasn’t convinced but he remembered to ensure that his facial expressions didn’t give his real feelings away. Instead he decided to continue this topic to keep Travis occupied.
‘That’s what I’m talking about, what course did you want to take?’
Travis stood in front of Simon as he worked through his answer, his thinking process was easily observable to Simon. They often had this conversation prior to a monetary favour being requested by Travis. Simon focused on the food, he would have loved to escape his own life too but had a walking, talking reminder of why he couldn’t. Travis started to breathe heavily and and frowned at Simon as he approached him.
‘You have my money!’
Simon tried his best to keep calm despite the unpredictability of the cousin he loved like a brother but simultaneously feared on occasions.
‘I don’t have your money Travis,’ Simon said as he turned away from the stove to face Travis. He had to increase his chances of ending this disagreement uninjured this time. Travis paced away from Simon, then repositioned himself a few measly feet away as he shouted and threatened.
‘Don’t take me for an idiot. I know you have my money, they told me you have it and you think it’s funny (Travis stormed out of the room as he uncontrollably chuckled with what seemed like frustration instead of humour). Laughing at me. Laughing at me you know (Travis was heard punching the walls before he repeatedly used the back of his right hand to loudly hit his left palm and clap out his last words) DON’T TAKE ME FOR AN IDIOT!!!’
Travis was only breaths away from Simon’s personal space and as his saliva hit Simon’s face Simon had a decision to make; he could call the police, he could fight Travis for the second time or he could try to imitate his Aunt, the only person who had not feared Travis. Maybe it wasn’t her truth but Simon was never given the impression that his Aunt was particularly bothered by her son’s sometimes volatile moods. Not once and in all the years before she passed away.
‘Travis I don’t have your money (Simon pulled out his wallet and showed his cousin the emptiness), look!!!’ He spoke louder in an attempt to demand attention. When Travis finally took notice he nodded in understanding as he shared a memory.
‘Remember when I borrowed you that watch? Your face when you dropped it.’ Travis rumbled with laughter and Simon soon joined his cousin in memory of the incident nearly ten years ago. ‘Yeah well I knew how much you spent on the watch then the minute you gave it to me I dropped it. When it hit the ground I thought it was broken and there was no way I was going to be able to replace it on my wages, I wasn’t making money like you, minimum wage was serious.’ This made Travis laugh all the harder.
‘You looked like you were going to cry,’ Travis responded.
‘Nah that’s too far, I was shocked not not sensitive don’t try it.’ Simon was glad for the turn around as they sat on the settee with their dinner on the trays in their laps. Simon hadn’t felt like crying over that watch those years ago but sat beside his best friend, his brother and confidant he felt his eyes well up before he blinked to keep it at bay. Simon wondered whether the rest of the family would ever take the time to learn how to diffuse arguments with Travis and hoped that someone would reach out to help him support Travis, before it was his time to go. Life certainly felt shorter to Simon, although Travis may not have remembered everything it meant a lot to Simon that he still thought their time together was significant. It was then that he realised that Travis was right he was the emotional type.
Copyright Teherah Wheeler (©) 2016
This is could be you. Sometimes people develop mental health conditions but at the end of the day they’re still human beings.
All the best.