Matthew had read the note a million times. He could recite the poem from memory but couldn't understand what it meant. What did his brother mean he didn't understand? How did he know his parents would blame him? So many questions left unanswered. Matthew had wanted to believe what his brother said, about it not being goodbye forever, but he couldn't let himself cling to false hope. Adam's funeral had shown him reality enough. He was just thankful that his brother didn't hate him in the end, like he hated himself.
"Lies, lies, lies," The demon screamed. He was growing impatient, he needed blood. This time the young girl was alive and healthy, even in the face of a demon. Her face was confident and stubborn. The girl was the exact image of Hope except she wore a silver gown that shimmered with each movement, a shining halo rested above her caramel-colored hair and long silver wings protruded from her back. She was an angel, filled with light and hope. She stared the demon down.
"Come on Matthew, this isn't you, you're no demon. I know who I fell in love with and it wasn't this monster that you make yourself out to be. Matthew, you need to know the truth." Her voice was strict and demanding. She was not going to back down.
"Matthew isn't here anymore! He's just a shell of his former self, soon I will claim him for myself and the end will come for you." The demon smiled a grotesque, smile. It was seeping with hatred. He turned away from the angel and she started to fade, still wearing her stubborn expression.
Matthew had fallen asleep against the base of an old ash tree. His clothes were soaked from the night's rain. He stood and slung his bag over his shoulder and started walking once again. It was as if he was in a sort of trance. He refused to be hurt again so he suppressed all feeling. He didn't want to face that he kept hurting the people he loved. He didn't think he'd ever understand what Adam meant and he brushed off the Angel-Hope as a figment of his imagination, just a dream. He knew that he was lying to himself but he didn't think he could have lived any other way.
Images of his past haunted him. Flashbacks of the worst times of his life kept attacking him when he least expected it. Seeing his schoolmate get hit by a school bus, walking in on his mother's affair, getting mugged on the subway, His uncle getting shot in the shoulder during a bank robbery while protecting him, and worst of all, opening the bedroom door to check on Adam after a long day at work to find blood spattered walls, and brain matter littered on the floor with a note pinned to his little brother's sleeve.
The poem circled around in his head, it wouldn't leave him be. Each line was like a punch in the face.
The Days After by Adam Chance
I wear my heart on my sleeve
It beats like a drum
When the music stops
The void will fill with love