Warm sunlight burns on my wet cheeks as I stare at the black tombstone. I read the engraved name over and over again, but my brain still refuses to understand. He can’t be gone. It can’t be.
The moment his soul left this earth I knew. I felt it. I remember being bored out of my mind, throwing a tennis ball against the ceiling of our little apartment. I knew it would annoy the couple living upstairs, but I didn’t care much for them. I saw them a couple of times and they always looked down on me. I didn’t appreciate that.
When Leo took his last breath, the ball slipped from my hand and it bounced off the cheap wooden floor. I haven’t been home since that dreadful day.
Tears sting my eyes as anger rolls over me. I’m not sure who it’s directed at. At my brother for leaving me or towards the assholes that left him to die in a ditch.
They dumped his body like an animal. They didn’t care that he had a family. A sister he promised to come home to. They didn’t give a s**t about his parents and how they would feel.
He was killed. My brother was killed by strangers. He was the best person I knew. He was kind, generous, and loving. Why would anyone want to hurt him? I still can’t wrap my head around it.
The police said he must have been involved in a fistfight and he died due to head trauma. I told them that was bullshit. My brother knew how to defend himself. He was a skilled fighter. He and I stood in the ring since we were ten years old. We knew how to fight!
They didn’t care. They said that it would be impossible to find the gang who beat him up. There was no evidence that lead to the offenders. They said it was a lost cause.
Another wave of anger ripples through me as I glance at the people surrounding me. All dressed in black.
My mother is sobbing uncontrollably into her new husband's suit jacket. My father stands a few feet away, his expression lost and devastated.
Next to him stands my uncle Vincent. He’s a hunk of a man, but he’s having trouble controlling his emotions as well. He owns a boxing studio. He and dad taught us everything we know.
Leo was the best fighter he ever trained. His words. He must know that Leo wouldn’t have gone down like this. He must know that there is more to his death than the police told us.
His eyes search the crowd until he finds me. Fresh emotions cause him to finally break and cry.
I quickly glance away. I can’t take their tears. I can’t take their grief. I can hardly handle my own.
Leo and I were born ten minutes apart and ever since that day we were inseparable. They say twins have a special connection. With Leo and I, it was true. We knew one another inside and out. We were more than just brother and sister. We were best friends.
How am I supposed to live without him? He was my rock, my everything. Strong when I couldn’t be. He would cheer me up when I’m down. He made me the best version of myself and he always pushed me to be better.
But did I do enough for him? I can’t help but wonder if I missed something. If he had a secret that he wouldn’t share with me. The one secret that cost him his life.
I glance up into the bright blue sky, silently cursing the sun for mocking me. Mocking my anger and sorrow. She doesn’t care. She just smiles down on us mercilessly.
A movement in the distance catches my attention. A black car slowly driving by. The windows are tainted and there is no way of knowing who’s inside. But it slows down significantly, and I swear they are watching my brother's funeral.
I take an involuntary step in the general direction of the fancy car, but someone’s hand on my shoulder stops me.
„Are you alright?” Sad eyes meet mine. A fresh wave of anger at the audacity for him to look at me that way. Alessandro didn’t know Leo the way I did. He only knew him for a few years when his father started dating my mother.
„What do you think?” I snap at him. A part of me knows that I have no right to be angry with him. Alessandro actually is a good guy. He’s a decent stepbrother, but he’s not my Leo.
„I think that you're far from alright,” he says softly, ignoring my hostile tone.
I sigh and glance over his shoulder, watching the black car slowly creeping away, becoming smaller in the distance.
“I’m sorry, Liah,” he adds, and his hand carefully touches my cheek, before he pulls me into a gentle, comforting hug.
He is alright. He really is, but all I want right now is my brother back. I want Leo to walk right up to me with his usual perky smile and tell me that everything is going to be okay. I want him to be there when I get home, but I know that I have lost him forever.
“I’m sorry too,” I sob quietly, and Alessandro holds me a little tighter as I let my sorrow flow and wash over me.