I hurt myself today, to see if I still feel
I focus on the pain, the only thing that's real
The needle tears a hole, the old familiar sting
Try to kill it all away
But I remember everything
I wear this crown of thorns upon my liar’s chair
Full of broken thoughts I cannot repair
What have I become, my sweetest friend
Everyone I know goes away in the end
And you could have it all, my empire of dirt
I will let you down, I will make you hurt
~Johnny Cash, Hurt
That voice was achingly familiar. She reminded him of his childhood; memories he needed to forget. He was steadily turning into their father, and he couldn't seem to stop himself. He'd ignored her calls for days, as usual, but something compelled him to finally pick up.
“Edward, it's Alice. Please say something.”
He held the phone to his ear, not speaking and barely breathing.
“I’m getting married,” she whispered on the other end of the line. That broke him out of his stupor.
“What?” he shouted. His baby sister was getting married?
“Edward! Don't shout at me. If you’d ever talk to me, you'd know that he’s wonderful. He's smart, and gentle, and takes good care of me.”
The last was the most important. Edward had done a terrible job of taking care of the women in his family. “Alice, really? You're going to marry him?” The pain of the past bit him again, and he had to sit down.
“Not every marriage has to be like Mom and Dad’s. Sometimes people are happy, Edward. I’m happy.”
She sounded happy. “Do you need money for the wedding?”
Alice scoffed. “No, Edward. I'm offended that you think I called for money. You've got to stop thinking that's all anyone wants from you. Have you met somebody? Please tell me you don't throw your money at women like some sugar daddy.”
He scrubbed his hands through his hair, suddenly desperate to tell Alice everything. “No, I fucked up a good relationship instead. What do I do, Alice? How do I fix it?”
He heard her sigh. “Tell me what you did.””
“I did everything wrong.”
“Well, I figured that. Come on, tell me. Did you ‘Dad’ her?”
He flinched. “Of course.”
“Listen up, bro. Dad was a bastard. You are not. Stop acting like him every time you feel insecure. Money is not the answer, not for anyone that counts. Spending time, not money, counts. The truth counts. Love fucking counts. If she’s important, tell her.”
“That’s what she told me, and I pushed her away. She never wanted my money, she even shoved it back at me when I tried to give it to her. She’s… she's fierce, and funny, and really, really sweet. But I kicked her out, so it's too late.” He threw his glass across the room, watching it hit the window and bounce off, rolling across the floor.
“It’s not too late unless she eloped with someone else. Can I meet her?” She sounded so hopeful. How could he fix this?
“I don't know what to do,” he whispered.
“You find her, you swallow your enormous pride, and you apologize. And then you pray she takes you back.”