The clock read 05:34, the digits sending a dark red glow through the otherwise pitch black room.
Jace groaned, turning over and burying his head in his pillow, closing his eyes again and trying to block the light out. Too early. Why was he even awake at this time?
Now he’d opened his eyes, his brain was resolutely trying to keep him from sleep. No sooner had Jace begun to close his eyelids had his mind lit up with reminders and notes about the things he hadn’t got done yet that needed doing.
He hadn’t called his girlfriend in a while, had he?
The festering McDonald’s Happy Meal from last week was still under his bed. That needed to go in the bin.
That whirring noise he could hear was his CD player. He didn’t even stopped that album properly. Hadn’t he better do that now?
Jace shook his head at the thoughts in his mind, covering his ears with the sides of the pillow. That could all wait. You didn’t do things at five am. Five am was for sleep.
He turned back to the clock, reaching out a hand and slamming it face first down onto the bedside table. Jace smirked slightly, happy at his unnecessary use of force, before pulling his fringe down over his face again and closing his eyes.
Ah. Relaxation. Free from the incessant, niggling thoughts of a day to day life.
But then it hit him.
Jace sat up instantly, eyes going straight to the empty bed to his left. No. No one was there. Not even when someone should be.
His suit was hanging on the back of the bedroom door, pristine in its plastic bag shell. The shoes were beneath it, neatly laced with an eerie shine.
The ache in Jace’s heart was still there too. He swallowed, looking down at his lap. It still felt as if a part of his soul had been ripped away, scrunched up and incinerated.
Blue eyes went back to the empty, unmade bed to his left. Jace felt his jaw tremble, and he looked away again, the first tears of many falling.
He wouldn’t be getting anything done today.
He wouldn’t even go to the church, if he had a choice in the matter. All Jace wanted to do was lie and stare at the ceiling, remembering his brother in all his fresh faced, cheery glory. He didn’t want to cry where people could see. He didn’t want to be reminded that his big brother was dead.
Seeing his mother so desolate might even burn up the last fragments of his heart. When they’d heard, that phone call… Jace was sure that had been the worst moment of his life.
He’d been reckless. His brother had chosen to drive home after a night of drinking, rather than call a taxi. He’d struck a lorry. He died instantly, laughing and listening to the radio as he drove back home to his family.
The empty black abyss left by his brother’s death left Jace completely alone. An only child. With no one in the world but a broken mother and a father who was drinking his own pain away.
“Why did you leave?” Jace called out, into the silent bedroom, voice cracking as more tears were shed. He looked back at the empty bed, swallowing and holding a hand over his mouth.
He didn’t expect an answer, but Jace still waited for one, unconsciously praying that some deity would bring his brother back, paste up the gaps in his life until no cracks remained.
But of course, nothing happened. No celestial being descended from the ceiling in a flash of bright light. It was just Jace, drowning in a sea of resentment and sadness.