It took Alfred F. Jones only seconds to launch himself at his phone when it started to ring. He had been trying to reach his brother for weeks and was starting to believe the Montreal mafia had kidnapped him or something. One minute, they were in the middle of a Call of Duty mission and the next, all contact from him stops as if he had dropped off the face of the Earth. He really badly wanted to hop on a plane and go find him but the young American was neck deep with college work that just seemed to multiply the more he ignored it. Sometimes he wished his Mom would have just let him join the military like he and his Dad had wanted but he really didn't want to let his last four years of law school go down the drain. Now entering his fifth year, he was sure he could be something big, maybe even the President. Then he would definitely be able to make some changes.
When he picked up his phone, he didn't recognize the number but it was from the same area code as Matthew so he answered quickly, despite long distance.
"Yello?" he said trying to sound casual despite his excitement.
"Alfred? It's me, Mattie!"
"Matt? Seriously man, where've you been? I was this close to calling the Canadian popo on you... I don't know their number though."
"Me neither, 'cause we call 911 same as you but you'd get your guys and maybe they'd give you our number but I doubt it..." Matthew stopped himself from rambling. "Um, anyway... I'm sorry I haven't called you sooner."
"It's been two and a half months."
"I know, I know..." Alfred barely heard a swallowing noise on the other end. "Ss... Something happened..."
Alfred frowned. "Something happened? To you? Matt, what happened?"
"Mattie? You still there?"
"Yes, Al... I'm... Well..."
Matthew had to start from the very beginning. He had been holding this back for so long but he knew he couldn't keep lying to his brother.
"Alfred, remember when my Mom died?"
His brother sounded pretty concerned on the other end. "Yeah... Does this have to do with her?"
"Not entirely..." Matthew fumbled with his clothes. "It's just... I haven't been entirely truthful with you since then."
"Really? That was two years ago..."
"Yeah... Well, when that happened, I hadn't much money left after supporting her... I dropped out of school."
"Dropped out? Wait, so you're not at UofT anymore? That can't be right: you've been telling me about the programs and the co-op in kindergartens... All this time...what have you been doing?"
And then Matthew brought him up to speed entirely.
Alfred was absolutely traumatized. He set his phone down for a second, the sound of his brother crying now inaudible so far away from his ear. Now there was absolutely nothing but distance stopping him from putting on a pair of sneakers and sprinting over the Canadian border.
What could he do? What should he do? He never felt anymore lost and could only imagine how Matthew felt.
Slowly he picked up the phone again. "Matt..."
There were diminishing sniffles before a reply. "...Yeah?"
"Hang up and call the police."
"Alfred, I can't!"
"You have to. You can put these people behind bars. You need that."
"It won't change what happened! I shouldn't have told you... I knew you'd be like this..."
"Of course I would! Mattie, you've been sexually abused! Now look at you!"
"I'm fine now, Al... Everything's getting better..."
"Being pregnant and shacked up with three foreign guys is good to you?"
"I know how it sounds but Gilbert, Antonio, and Francis are really really nice people," Matthew insisted. "They're my friends now and they're helping me through this..."
"You barely know them. What's it been, a week?"
"And a half..."
"That's nothing! I should be up there helping you! What if those guys are rapists too?"
"I know they're not!"
"Think about it, those French guys have a lot of sex, right? And Germans have all that porn--that I know nothing about--and Mexicans are sneaky."
"He's not Mexican, he's Spanish! And you're being really racist right now! I told you, they are really nice and I'm fine!"
"You're knocked up! I didn't even know that was possible!"
"Me neither but it doesn't matter; I'm having an abortion."
"I know, I know... You told me..." Alfred scratched his head. "Are you sure that's the right answer?"
"...Are you joking? Don't you dare pull some anti-abortion shit on me right now. I can't raise a kid."
"I'm just saying, maybe adoption is a better idea. I mean, we worked, didn't we?"
"Our mother wasn't raped."
Alfred went silent.
"Al... This is how it has to be," Matthew continued sighing. "I really can't do this. My top priority right now is finding a job and getting back on track. I can't have anything get in the way of that."
Alfred pouted. "I just... I grew up thinking neither of us would ever have kids of our own because of who we are and now... Matthew, this could be a miracle."
Matthew sighed again. "...I've made my decision."
Alfred nodded then realized his brother couldn't see him. "Okay, okay..."
"...By the way," Matthew said. "Please don't tell your parents."
"Heh, I haven't even told them about me yet," Alfred said.
"You really should come out to them..." Matthew said. "They're really kind people, you know that."
"Yeah, no, I don't see it going down well..."
"How long do you think Ivan will wait for you to do this?"
Alfred's chest fell. "It doesn't matter now... He stopped waiting."
There was a pause on the other end. "...Al, I'm sorry..."
"I would have told you earlier, but you know, you walked off the face of the planet for two months." Alfred sighed. "It's okay though... I'll get over it..."
"I really think you had something good with him."
"Yeah, whatever. My problems aren't important right now, are they?"
"I'll be fine, Alfred..."
"Look, I'm going to come see you. At least Thanksgiving. Your Thanksgiving."
"But you have school! You can't just leave!"
"Matt, I need to see you."
"No... Your school is more important."
"Never will be. But if you insist, I'll go during my Thanksgiving. Deal?"
"I miss you, Mattie."
"I miss you so much, Alfred..."
"I'll see you next week."
"What, no, that's my Thanksgiving, idiot!"
"I know. See you then."
Alfred hung up and laid on the dorm carpet. After about a minute, the phone rang again. He picked it up again. "Yello?"
"Okay, fine... You can come next week..."
"Thanks. Love you bro."
"I love you too."
Matthew hung up and sat on the bed with the phone in front of him. Then his eyes began to sting and he started weeping again. He missed his brother more than anything and hearing his voice dug up so many memories. Now he really wished he could turn back time fourteen years, before anything started, when he didn't know his feelings yet, and when he and Alfred still met every summer to simply enjoy the world, sleep under the stars, and waste away each day with their hopes and dreams of the future. Now, Matthew only saw Alfred attaining them and he was left behind, feeling left out and hopeless.
He fell asleep that night crying again with no stars, no hopes and dreams, and no one to share them with.