The city was coming to life. As the sun touched the flat roofs of the houses it turned their sand coloured stone bright white.

Rafa sat on the balcony watching his neighbour’s washing drifting in the morning breeze. He rubbed his aching eyes and for a moment tried to forget about the plan.

Last night had been another where sleep had come in snatches. The dreams of Kaliq still refused to leave him in peace. One felt so real he had been forced to get out of bed and check his brother’s room.

It was empty, of course. The sheets were smooth and clean. The routine of doing Kaliq’s washing had been hard to break. Rafa was the practical one, getting the shopping from the local market, keeping the place clean, paying the bills. All Kaliq did was hand over a little cash when he had some: which had grown less frequent in recent years.

When Kaliq did manage to sell a print it was never for much. Rafa failed to understand how painting, which gave his brother so much joy, could also bring him down with such a crash. The high Kaliq would get when he worked on a new piece raced through his system like a drug. It would infect Rafa as well. He could come home at night, and no matter what mood that days work had left him in, his spirits would be lifted.

The bad times brought them both pain as well. Kaliq would agonise over the lack of interest in his pictures. Rafa would feel the black cloud begin to settle in the apartment, watching as his brother drank himself into oblivion. It made no difference what Rafa said, Kaliq would never listen.

Rafa finished the last of the water from the bottle and placed it on the small white table in front of him. His eye caught the movement of a shirt on the washing line across the road. For the briefest of moments he saw it as a body, as Kaliq’s. The memory made his pulse race.

It had been two months since he had come home to find Kaliq hanging by the window. Rafa’s hands had been shaking as he tried to cut his brother down. Each second of that struggle had felt like he was also being choked. It had all been for no good. Kaliq had done the deed hours earlier. No amount of pounding on his chest would start his heart again. Rafa had been left alone, not being able to understand why his brother had felt death was his only way out.

He picked up the empty bottle from the table and pushed himself out of the chair. In the small kitchen he placed the bottle next to the sink, then he turned to the table. On it sat his winter jacket. He lifted it up, feeling the extra weight, and carefully put it on. The zip, which normally proved difficult to fasten, slid up with ease.

In the hall he checked to make sure none of the wires were showing. He locked the front door without thinking, his mind was elsewhere. Soon he would see Kaliq again and they would both be happy.


11 September 2009
Thursday was World Suicide Prevention Day, backed by the International Association for Suicide Prevention.

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