It was the way it should be.
I was highly aware of Howie’s presence behind me as I stormed through the halls. I had no idea where I was going; I just knew that I wanted to get rid of my insistent bandmate as soon as possible. I wanted to go somewhere quiet, somewhere peaceful, somewhere organized.
I wanted to go somewhere I could smash things to pieces.
I hurried around a corner and quickly went inside a room, fairly sure that Howie hadn’t been able to see me go in. And indeed, I could hear him marching passed it a few seconds later. I listened as I heard him grumble in anger as he returned moments after and his footsteps faded away. He was angry with me for lashing out at Kevin, I suppose. I was angry too; so angry. Not at anyone in particular, though. I turned around slowly.
Bathroom. How typical.
Clenching my teeth, I walked up to the sink; my hands shaking like mad. My heart was beating in my throat for no apparent reason I could think of, other than the anger that was coursing through my veins. Panting, I gripped the sides of the sink, my knuckles soon turning white from the fierce grip. I looked up.
“Fuck!” I shouted at my reflection in the mirror. I am ashamed to say that I don’t know what happened next.
All I know is that I ended up with no voice at all, a dangerously bruised and bleeding hand and a mirror that was in a thousand pieces. When I realized all this, I sank to the ground with my back against the wall. I didn’t hear the footsteps outside and didn’t notice Howie until he was already inside. He gave me a look that was almost comical if you didn’t consider the situation.
“I think I went on a rampage,” I said monotonously with the words stuck in my throat, nodding at the broken mirror and the pushed over trash cans.
“Oh Jesus,” Howie mumbled.
“I’m gonna have to pay for that mirror and the mess though,” I went on, my voice merely a whisper. “Are mirror’s expensive? I don’t really know. I’ll look it up when-”
“Brian, what happened?” Howie interrupted my continuous flow of words.
I looked at him. He could probably figure out what had happened here by himself. He watched me with concern in his eyes. I had expected him to be angry at me for letting myself go like this, but he wasn’t. He seemed shocked, which made sense. This whole thing was particularly out of character for me. I was still shaking, clutching my hand that was still throbbing and bleeding as I sat on the floor and looked at Howie in total bewilderment. “I don’t really know.”
Howie’s jaw clenched as he crouched down next to me under the bloodied sink. “Are you bleeding?” He asked urgently, grabbing at my hand.
I winced when he touched my bruised skin, “How’d you find me?”
“Well, I was looking for you,” Howie grumbled, studying my hand closely, “Then there was some noise and I figured, bathroom.”
“Can you move your fingers?” He asked.
I hesitatingly moved my fingers; it hurt, but it was possible. I nodded tiredly, letting my head fall back against the wall behind me, “What’s happening to me?” I muttered quietly.
“What do you mean?” Howie replied, finally letting go of my hand.
“I just feel... so angry,” I said, feeling my throat already closing up again, “Like... all the time.”
“You’re way too stressed out, Bri,” he answered and I could clearly hear the worry in his voice.
“Can you blame me?” I whispered, suddenly completely exhausted. It was not even eleven am yet and I felt like going to sleep. Not that I would be able to sleep, but that was an entire different story.
“Not really,” Howie said honestly, “But I do think you are taking all of this much too hard.”
“It’s my job,” I whispered back, “How can I not take it too hard when I can’t even do my job?”
“You’ve got the four of us as well, you know.” I knew he meant that as comfort, but it truly made my heart beat faster just thinking about how there were four other careers dependent on mine. I felt sick. My lack of response must have alarmed him, as he quickly rushed, “We’ve got your back, I mean.”
“I honestly can’t believe you guys haven’t kicked me out yet.”
Howie looked at me in total surprise, like I had said something completely out of the ordinary. “Why on earth would we ever do that?”
“I’m the weakest link,” I mumbled weakly, “No, worse. I’m a freaking burden. You’ll never be great again if I’m there.”
“Are you even listening to yourself?” Howie asked in a disbelieving tone, “You sound like you’ve given up.”
“It’s been two years already,” I said, wiping my eyes angrily. I had shed enough tears over this stupid voice.
“So?” Howie asked sternly, “That doesn’t mean anything. Last time I checked, we don’t kick people out of the band... like ever.”
“You’ve never had such a horrible voice in the band either... like ever,” I replied stubbornly. I had intended to make myself feel bad and wallow in self pity for the rest of the day, so that was what I was gonna do.
Howie stayed silent for a while, moving to sit next to me and resting his head against the wall as well.
“Would you kick someone out of your family just because they’re not as strong as they used to be? Just because they got sick?” He asked quietly after a few minutes.
I thought about it for a minute, “It’s a business, Howard,” I whispered dejectedly.
“It’s also a family, don’t ever forget that,” Howie answered calmly, “We stick it out.”
“Then you’re screwed,” I choked out, “What if I’m gonna ruin everything?”
“If that’s really what you’re worried about, then why haven’t you resigned?” He asked wonderingly.
“I don’t want to.”
“Exactly.” Howie sighed deeply, staring into the ravaged bathroom, “Don’t let this thing define you, Brian. You are more than this.”
I looked at him, trying to swallow the tears. Howie and I had never been really close. I could usually only guess what he really thought about things. He was a really private guy when it came to his opinions and feelings. I was sometimes the opposite; having no problem of letting my thoughts know when I didn’t necessarily agree with something. Howie and I were by a lot of means incompatible, but at the same time, he was closer to me than I thought.
“What am I gonna do?” I whispered somberly.
Howie shrugged, “Don’t know. Just... continue, I guess.”
I scoffed; it sounded easy enough. “I’m sorry I lashed out at Kevin.”
“Tell that to Kevin, not to me,” He replied simply, then smiled, “I think he’s fine.”
“We should get out of here before anyone sees us,” I grunted.
“Sounds like a good plan,” Howie said, not making any move to get up. “Let someone look at that hand though; it might be broken after all.”
“It’s probably fine,” I mumbled absently.
“And you should really eat more,” Howie continued, “You are getting freakishly thin, it’s not funny.”
“Yes mother,” I replied.
“I said it’s not funny.”
I smiled as I slowly got to my feet, grabbing the sink as a sudden wave of dizziness washed over me. Howie didn’t seem to notice my wavering as he too got to his feet.
I should eat more. And I should try to keep it inside.