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The Sun Never Rises: Chapter Eighteen

Updated on December 21, 2016

Yes, We Are Back

Hey, as long as Max and Katie talk to me, I’ll keep writing their story.

When I left you last, Max had just quit his job, and was having some issues regarding his PTSD. Luckily, he is surrounded by support and love, so he’s right where he belongs.

Let’s see what else is happening in this wounded family.

Home sweet home?
Home sweet home? | Source

Collateral Damage

It had been a couple weeks since I quit my job down on the docks. I spent a lot of time working around my childhood home, doing some repairs, just handyman stuff to stay busy and keep my head on as straight as possible. Idleness is not good. It tends to foster far too much thinking, reflecting, wrestling with the skeletons, and that’s one wrestling match we are all bound to lose. The Zoloft could only do so much.

My sister Jeannie had the day off from her barista job. Dad was at work, Mom was volunteering, and Katie was working. It was just me and my little Sis, banging around the house, doing odds and ends. Jeannie, twenty-five years old, fifteen when I left home, ten years to catch up on, ten years of feelings to sort through. Not all aspects of a homecoming are pleasant, and you can take that to the bank.

Jeannie is a beauty. Always has been. Guys were heated up over her back when she was in high school. I had no doubt they still were. Made me wonder why she wasn’t dating. Hell, I was a bit curious why she wasn’t married. We hadn’t had a chance to really talk since I got home, so I figured might as well kill some time catching up on those ten years.

“How come you’re still home, Jeannie?” I asked her as we worked on cleaning up the kitchen. “I figured you’d be married to some guy by now, living the high life, instead of banging around this old wreck of a home.”

She was quiet for a decent amount of time, the clock on the mantel the only sound as she pondered my question. Finally, though, it began spilling out.

“You have no idea, Max, damn it all to hell. You just have no idea.” She stopped with what she was doing and faced me. “Mom and Dad were devastated by your disappearance. Dad went into a deep depression, holed himself up in the den each night, drinking beers and watching game shows, for God’s sake. Mom? She used to have maybe one drink a month, with her girls’ group, but she started having one after each dinner, and then she’d need one before bed, and suddenly she needed valium to calm her nerves, and what was I supposed to do, Max, just take off with some guy and leave our parents to wallow in their pain? WHAT WAS I SUPPOSED TO DO, MAX!”

She threw a spoon against the far wall and started crying.

Jeannie
Jeannie | Source

The Pain Releases

It was pretty quiet there for awhile. Tears don’t make a sound as they hit the kitchen floor, but they should. Tears should make all the sounds associated with their cause. It should be a damned symphony of pain playing in the background, horns and bass drums, a funeral dirge of raw emotion. That’s what I witnessed that day, and the tune they all played was for me.

I started towards her, but her hand shot up.

“STOP! Don’t you dare hold me and tell me everything will be all right. Do you know how much I looked up to you growing up? I idolized you, Max, my big, strong, brave brother who could do no wrong. I loved that I was Max’s little sister. It was something solid to be proud of, you know? I could walk down the same halls in school you had walked, and take classes from the same teachers you had, and I was treated with just a bit more respect because of it. And you couldn’t find it in your heart to make one damned phone call? You knew how much we loved you. What in the hell were you thinking, Max? You had no right to be so selfish! And then you have the gall to ask me why I’m not married? How dare you! I couldn’t desert our parents the way you did, Max.”

The Aftermath

She ran off to her bedroom after the outburst, leaving me to ponder the aftermath of selfishness. Self-reflection is a pastime best reserved for the strong and self-assured, neither of which described me at that time, but there seemed to be no choice. I grabbed my coat from the coat tree, pulled a stocking cap over my head, and headed out into the Seattle downpour.

Everything my little sister said was true, and that just made the walk all the more miserable. I followed Aurora Avenue north, past the Locks, the strip malls, the pawn shops and the auto wrecker. After an hour or so, Woodland Park Zoo appeared on my right, and I spotted Green Lake through the trees in the distance. I walked into the Zoo parking lot, paid the admittance fee, and made my way through the exhibitions, the monkeys, the penguins, and then the big cats, so strong, so proud, so powerful, all caged, all defeated by a larger foe, now sentenced to live their lives in a cell, bars and locks preventing them from enjoying freedom, preventing them from running free as they once had, leaving them as shadows of their former selves. They paced in their enclosure, keeping an eye on those eying them, and the loathing was apparent, the frustrations were apparent, but something else . . . there was a sadness on their faces, a sadness born from the realization that life would never be any better than what it was at that moment.

Hope?
Hope? | Source

The Return

I was back home by three, making sure to return before my parents or Katie. From a block away I could see Jeannie, swinging on the front porch swing, and I knew she was watching out for me, and I found myself running in her direction, the raindrops mixing with the tears, the winds whipping, cleansing, scouring me of shame, and my Lil Sis met me on the lawn, met me in the most beautiful hug, and there we stood, the rains a deluge, looking like two drowned rats, brother and sister, doing what brothers and sisters have always done.

We exchanged gifts that afternoon. She gave me the gift of forgiveness, an invaluable gift, a gift that can only be purchased with love, and I gave her the freedom to release her sorrow and blame, with no recriminations, no excuses, no hollow words of bullshit, and when our gifts were given, when the last words necessary were spoken, I unlocked the cage door. I looked at that majestic beast, our eyes met, and without saying a word he understood. I swung the door wide open and he tentatively took a step, then another, and finally bounded from that cage, free at last, and the sorrow on his face disappeared, the sorrow ten years in the making, and it was replaced with . . . hope!

Thank You

I’ll be back with another chapter when Max and Katie speak to me. Until then, may love always guide you during this magical mystery tour called life.

2016 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)

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    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 6 months ago from Olympia, WA

      It really is, Missy! May we always have it!

    • Missy Smith profile image

      Missy Smith 6 months ago from Florida

      The completeness that understanding and forgiveness give us if we are willing to let it! It's Beautiful! :)

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 7 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Slowly, Lawrence, but it is happening. Thank you for following along.

    • lawrence01 profile image

      Lawrence Hebb 7 months ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

      Let the healing begin!

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 7 months ago from Olympia, WA

      You are too funny, Shannon. Truth be told, The Great Gatsby bored me to tears, so I don't even remember the green light. LOL

    • shanmarie profile image

      Shannon 7 months ago from Texas

      I love metaphors and similies. Especially when they make sense to me. LOL. Though a trip to the zoo seemed strange, it made immediate sense to me why you included that scene as soon as you described the animals. Now, on the other hand. . .I'm still wondering why the high school teachers insist that the use of an eerie green light in "The Great Gatsby" is supposed to symbolize jealousy. Just seems like creepiness to me. ;)

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 7 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Shannon! I like to toss in a metaphor once in a while. I think they can be very powerful if used correctly.

    • shanmarie profile image

      Shannon 7 months ago from Texas

      What a powerful use of a zoo visit! I didn't really see that one coming. It seemed like such a strange place to go after an incident like the one with his sister.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 7 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Ann, thank you so very much. I'm trying, my friend. I just need to find a way to get noticed by the right people. Maybe 2017 will show me the key.

      Happy New Year, my friend.

      bill

    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 7 months ago from SW England

      Oh wow! The power of love, eh? Mixed with the power of your writing it all packs a hell of a punch, bill. I still have tears in my eyes. It reaches emotions we all have, things we all recognise and have probably experienced in some measure - and that's the power of great writing.

      I can see your rising path and it's inspiring!

      Ann :)

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 7 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Genna, thank you so much. It's interesting about my journey and learning from it. I never considered myself a terribly observant or introspective person, but something happened ten years ago, and it opened my eyes to life. Now I see everything, and I see deeper meaning in life....I'm glad it happened before it was too late. :) Happy New Year dear friend.

    • Genna East profile image

      Genna East 7 months ago from Massachusetts, USA

      "Self-reflection is a pastime best reserved for the strong and self-assured, neither of which described me at that time, but there seemed to be no choice." Bill, it's thoughts and sentences like these that make your stories so real...full of candor and an understanding of human nature that are remarkable. One thing always comes to mind whenever reading a Bill Holland story: This man has seen and experienced life. I liked your powerful, meaningful message in the description of the larger foe that defeated those "living" at the zoo, where the scents of freedom beckon just beyond the enclosures from which there is no escape. Your closing paragraph and the exchange of gifts between Jeannie and Max brought tears. I love this story.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 7 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Didn't I just send this reply? What the heck???

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 7 months ago from Olympia, WA

      We shall see, Sha! Stay tuned for the next episode. This family still has some healing to do. Of course, that could be said for most of us.

      Happy New Year dear friend!

      love,

      bill

    • bravewarrior profile image

      Shauna L Bowling 7 months ago from Central Florida

      It seems Jeannie's outburst was cleansing for both of them. Max is on his way to recovery and Jeannie is free of the chains of burden she's carried for the last ten years.

      How are Ma and Pa doing? Are they still drinking?

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 7 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Michael my friend, if there is a more powerful force than love, I do not know what it is. I know you understand that. I know you live it.

      Love and peace in 2017, my friend

    • Michael-Milec profile image

      Michael-Milec 7 months ago

      Most often we do not know nor understand motives for homelessness. In this epizode you are giving us chance to look at this monstrous spiritual force hurting individuals and crippling families relationships. Then, we see a cure for it: communication in sincerity and love. More and more becoming obvious that 'love' is a verb fully manifested by deeds and actions. I hope Max, Katie and a rest of the family will come back to us with more cheerful moments in creating a gratifying future of them all.

      Blessing and peace my friend, and a happy and prosperous new 2017.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 7 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you, Rasma, and Merry Christmas to you and yours. You are appreciated.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 7 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you, Maria, and Merry Christmas to you and yours. I wish, for you, a life of continued love and joy!

      Your friendship is a priceless commodity for me.

      love,

      bill

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 7 months ago from Olympia, WA

      It had to happen, Flourish. As you say, the anger was there and had to surface sooner or later.

      Thank you and Merry Christmas to you and yours.

    • Gypsy Rose Lee profile image

      Gypsy Rose Lee 7 months ago from Riga, Latvia

      This was most heartwarming. I'm glad they got to make up for all the time and things worked out. Looking forward to more.

    • marcoujor profile image

      Maria Jordan 7 months ago from Jeffersonville PA

      This was the perfect piece to read on this Christmas morning - a story filled with communication and honest feelings / emotions - resulting in a deeper love.

      This chapter adds yet another layer of credibility to the subject of PTSD and its far-reaching ramifications.

      My wish for you in 2017 is continued fulfillment in your writing, as you continue to inspire and motivate those around you.

      Merry Christmas to you and Bev. Love, Maria

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 7 months ago from USA

      I was wondering where the anger and blame were. When someone just abandons their family, no matter the cause, there are deep emotional wounds to go around. Merry Christmas to you and yours, Bill.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 7 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Merry Christmas, Zulma, and thank you, sincerely, for your friendship.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 7 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Krishna, thank you very much, and Happy Holidays to you and yours.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 7 months ago from Olympia, WA

      And blessings to you, Shyron, and may this holiday season be filled with love for you. Thank you!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 7 months ago from Olympia, WA

      As we all know, Alicia, healing from those types of wounds takes a very long time.

      Thank you and Merry Christmas to you.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 7 months ago from Olympia, WA

      I appreciate that very much, Dora. That is, indeed, what I try to do.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 7 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you so much, Ruby! Heartfelt tears are music to this writer's soul. I'm so glad you enjoyed it.

      Merry Christmas, dear friend.

    • phoenix2327 profile image

      Zulma Burgos-Dudgeon 7 months ago from United Kingdom

      Sounds like the healing is finally beginning. I wonder if Mom and Dad will speak to Max. It sounds like they need to start healing too.

      Merry Christmas, Bill and Bev.

    • Shyron E Shenko profile image

      Shyron E Shenko 7 months ago from Texas

      Bill, coming home or leaving home is bitter sweet, with tears of hope, regret and love and everything that goes with it.

      Blessings my friends Bill, Bev, Katie and Max

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 7 months ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Jeannie needed to make her feelings known, but I'm glad that she and Max have forgiven each other. Hopefully they can both recover from the pain that they have experienced.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Isaac Weithers 7 months ago from The Caribbean

      Another great illustration of family love and forgiveness. You describe real life in touching scenes, subtly suggesting to your readers that they can do likewise.

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Fuller 7 months ago from Southern Illinois

      This was so heartfelt the tears came as usual with your real life writing. I wonder how many service men could relate to Max and Katie's story? Sometimes it's good to blow off steam to clear the air. I have no doubt this family will heal. I love this story...

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 7 months ago from Olympia, WA

      For sure, Larry. Perhaps a ways in the distance but for sure.

      Merry Christmas, Larry!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 7 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Very true, Marlene. A lot of pain can slowly disappear simply by talking about it. Ah, the joys of experience, eh? :) Merry Christmas once again, my friend.

    • Larry Rankin profile image

      Larry Rankin 7 months ago from Oklahoma

      Better days ahead.

    • MarleneB profile image

      Marlene Bertrand 7 months ago from Northern California, USA

      Let the healing begin! That's what talking does. I enjoyed this episode because I know what homecomings can be like sometimes. I wish more people would talk like Max and his little sister did just now.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 7 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Mary, thank you so much for following along and for your kind words. Merry Christmas, my friend.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 7 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Linda, if you have goosebumps, then I've done my job as a writer. Thank you so much! No rain today...cause for celebration!

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 7 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thanks so much, Pop. I suspect they will all make it, but there is definitely healing that needs to happen.

    • Blond Logic profile image

      Mary Wickison 7 months ago from Brazil

      Wonderful chapter. I could hear the tears hitting the floor.

      I don't care how broken a family is, I feel there is always hope to heal that bond.

      Beautifully written and I hope many people find similarities with their own struggles, and find peace and hope this holiday season.

    • Carb Diva profile image

      Linda Lum 7 months ago from Washington State, USA

      Bill, I have goosebumps, and it's not because the furnace hasn't kicked on yet. I had not thought about what life had been like for his family in those 10 years. I'm glad that your Muse did. This was also a part of the story that needed to be told.

    • breakfastpop profile image

      breakfastpop 7 months ago

      PTSD is harder to spot than a broken limb, so it requires tons of understanding and patience on the part of those who love the one whose suffering. It is important to shed light on this disorder, and you did a magnificent job. I have a good feeling about these two.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 7 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Eric, you are so correct. I have done damage, for sure, and I continue to try and bridge gaps caused by yours truly. It is the way it is, my friend.

      Merry Christmas to you, Eric, and that beautiful family of yours.

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 7 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      I would hope that every sibling has these moments. One just cannot go through life without causing damage to those who love us. PTSD, a drunk, a judgmental ass, a failure to meet their demons with them, Just the God awful truth that we failed to love them.

      I hope that over time I can bridge the chasms in my life, like Max did by accepting and owning his reality.

      The family speaks to me, I hope that they continue to speak to you.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 7 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you so much, Meg! I was hoping that metaphor hit the right note. Merry Christmas to you and yours, my friend.

    • DreamerMeg profile image

      DreamerMeg 7 months ago from Northern Ireland

      Yes, coming home is never just as easy as opening the door and walking in. I expect there will be a few more talks like that needed too, so everyone can start healing. I don't like it that Max feels he has been selfish though. He was wounded in the spirit and maybe he needs to forgive himself too. Perhaps that beast leaving the cage is a start - powerful metaphor!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 7 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thanks Mike, and I agree with you...maybe a fairy tale land, but it's my land and I'm happy with it. Merry Christmas, my friend.

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      Old Poolman 7 months ago

      This episode describes life as it should be lived. Thanks for sharing this Bill. Happy Holidays to you and yours.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 7 months ago from Olympia, WA

      It is my pleasure, Janine. They are rapidly becoming my favorite characters, and I'm so happy you and others are enjoying them. Merry Christmas dear friend.

    • Janine Huldie profile image

      Janine Huldie 7 months ago from New York, New York

      Love that during this time of the year especially, this one ended on the note of forgiveness. Thanks for sharing a bit more of Katie and Max here today with us. Merry Christmas to you and your family once again now!! :)