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Vignettes Regarding the Artwork of Brendon Kotes

XLIII: Yesteryears

Taylor L. became a mainstay at a lot of parties that year. At the time he seemed a superhero in and of himself. A god, a devil tearing up the roads. He could do no wrong in Casey’s eyes. Could do no right in Robbie’s. Brendon tagged along but rarely, to places close enough he could run home at two in the morning and sneak into bed with his clothes smelling of smoke and his sketchbook filled of beer pong and flip cup.

Through January and February, Becks took a break from driving them around. Medical procedure that left her wrung out and sore and with her staying at their mom’s house most of the time. Left Casey alone with their dad more often than not and gave Brendon an excuse to not go to parties he didn’t rightfully enjoy except for Casey’s presence.

He wondered later if, had he gone, had put in the effort to be out there, would things have ended up different in Casey’s life? But that thought got set right years later when he ran into Becks—grocery store of all places, him heading out with a couple of bags, her about to head in.

“Nothing you did could have changed things, Bren. He was already gone, head over heels with an idea that never should have been okay. If anyone’s to blame…” And here she paused, pursed her lips and blinked, looking away for a moment. “I should never have brought him to the races as young as I did. Thing is, though, you do what makes sense at the time.”

“But Taylor L.…”

“You changed things. You made things right. At least for a little while. Thanks for that.” Her smile, carefully constrained, said far more about regret and loss. Then she put a hand on a puffy stomach and murmured. “I’m going to do better. I have to do better.”

He saw her after the baby was born—Annabelle Raverly—and then again a year or two later when he met a six-month-old addition to the small family—an Owen Casey Raverly named for two uncles, only one of which remained around to see his namesake.

Cute kids. Adjusted kids. The kind of kids that reminded Brendon of, surprisingly, himself. Annabelle’s fingers covered in paint; a photo on Becks’ phone of Owen with eye shadow across his cheeks, courtesy of his sister’s ministrations when mom and dad had their backs turned for five minutes.

He always turned down the invitation to dinner though. Too close to home, too filled with memories.


Next Chapter: XLIV