Your big brother was gone.
He had practically raised you, but for the last few months, you had been the one who was taking care of him. The town doctor had told you two weeks ago that there was no way to help him, and you hadn’t wanted to believe it, but now…
Now, there he was, in his bed, asleep. But he was no longer breathing.
You dropped the two cups of coffee you had been holding. Your legs suddenly failed, and you fell to sit on the ground in a heap. Your insides felt like they were going to twist their way out of you through your throat. You struggled for a moment to hold back a sob, but it quickly overpowered whatever small shred of will you had left, and you were crying before you had even realized it.
You weren’t sure how long you sat on the floor for, face buried in the edge of the bed, unable to bring yourself to touch the lifeless body of your only family. Minutes, hours-- no matter what it had really been, it had felt like years-- later, you were brought back to reality when you noticed a sharp pain in your legs-- when you looked, you saw that they had been burnt by the coffee and cut by the pieces of the broken mugs when you’d dropped them.
The feeling offered enough of a distraction from the situation at hand for you to stand and make your way to the doctor’s office down the street. You had to tell somebody. You couldn’t just leave him there. You clung desperately to the painful stinging feeling in your legs in order to keep moving.
When the doctor came to the door at your knock, you didn’t have to tell him what had happened for him to figure it out on his own.
The rest of that day had passed by you in a haze. The doctor returned after a while, you couldn’t say how long, and he cleaned, treated and wrapped your legs while talking to you in a somber voice. You didn’t really register whatever it was he said. You didn’t want to hear it. You didn’t want to think about it.
You couldn’t think about it.
You slept in the doctor’s office that night.
The day after was the funeral, and you didn’t register much of that, either. You knew it had happened. You had attended it, but you didn’t speak or look up. You’d worn your coffee-stained dress from the day before. The townsfolk gave you their condolences, and you’d left the cemetery without saying anything-- how could you say anything?
What was there to say?
What was there to do?
When you arrived at the front door of your home, you were quickly hit by a feeling of dread, the first thing you had felt since the day before. You could no longer live here, you realized. Not in an empty house. The dread was quickly overturned by panic, bubbling in your chest. You were crying again. Your legs ached. You sobbed as you went inside the house and stuffed a bag with all of the things that mattered-- clothes, money, the few valuables you owned.
On your way out, you glanced at the door to your brother’s room, but you just couldn’t make yourself go inside. It felt like something terrible was going to happen if you touched anything in there (as if anything worse could possibly happen), so you rushed through the rest of your packing and left the house quickly, heading straight for the bus station.
You’d bought the first ticket out of town without even bothering to check the destination-- you just needed to get out. The ticket costed most of your money, but you figured you could sell your valuables once you got to wherever you were headed. You were an adult, you’d get it worked out somehow.
The wait was long, and the bus ride was longer, but the trip felt like it had taken both forever and no time at all when you were grounded once more by the squeal of brakes. You waited for the other people on the bus to get off before you, and you stopped at the door to ask the driver which town you were now in.
“Steelside,” he said, and closed the door behind you. You didn’t turn away quickly enough to avoid getting dust in your face as the bus drove away. It made you cough, and it took everything you had not to crumple down onto the ground and start crying again.
By some miracle, you managed to hold yourself together long enough to find a pawn shop, where you sold the valuables you had packed for enough money to hopefully get you a meal and maybe a bed for the night.
When you walked through the doors of the Steelside Inn, you were about to pass out from exhaustion. The Innkeep was kind enough to take note of this and help you to your room once you’d shown him that you had the money to sleep there.
You were out before he even shut the door as he left the room.