You don’t actually know why you do it, release a song from a band ten years dead. You hoard songs like a dragon to his gold, pieces scattered about everywhere, keeping your spare verses in little locked up boxes in your head where no one can touch them. Liam used to complain about it, actually: he’d hear you singing a stray chorus and yell “That one’s actually fucking good, why’s it not on the record!” and then bitch you out about She Is Love or something.
You’re probably just bored, you tell yourself. You’ve been stuck in your house for over a month now, and you’re starting to go just a tad bit crazy. Fuck it: people want some good news, you’ll give them something to smile about. Don't stop being happy/don't stop your clapping/don't stop your laughing – yeah, that’s about the message the world needs right now.
You don’t think about him when you send it off, announcing it on Twitter and putting it up for sale and streaming. You don’t even think about him until you see that stupid fucking Tweet of his. You’re not upset; really, you’re not. He’s called you far worse things, though ‘tofu boy’ is somewhat novel.
Glancing at it, though, you realise that your heart still sinks a bit in your chest. You’re staring out the window, looking at the trees sway in the wind. You think that maybe it was a tad bit about him.
No matter what Liam says, there are times when you’re conciliatory, when you try to fix things using nothing but sheer will and duct tape. You've been there before, having bought Liam a football when you told him to ‘fuck right off’ and leave you with your cooler, twelve-year-old friends. When you left him to spend the night with Louise, and he was so upset you kissed him just to shut him up. When you hit him over the head with a cricket bat and then gave him what he later described to you as ‘the best fucking blowjob I’ve ever got’. Contrary to popular belief, you can be nice.
God, you did it again. You did what you just can’t seem to stop yourself from trying, putting out messages that you knew Liam will find, in that cryptic code that only the two of you can read. No matter how many times you cut ties with him, at the end of the day, some part of you is forever twenty seven, glancing over your shoulder to see if your little brother likes your songs and avoiding his gaze when he catches you looking.
You read over his tweet a few times. Smiling bitterly, you put your phone down. You think of throwing it.
See, here’s the thing: Liam got your message, loud and clear. Liam fucking saw you post that song and heard I miss you and I miss us shot right through it. He knows that you miss him, maybe even better than you know it yourself.
That whole calling you a wanker and saying he should’ve been on the track? Yeah, part of it’s just him being a cunt. But you can read the code just as well as him. This is him saying not good enough.
Because (God fucking damn you to Hell and back for it) you know Liam. And he’s said it himself: he’s all or nothing. He won’t take an old Oasis song, he won’t take a song you wrote that might just possibly be interpreted as about him, no. He wants you out there, same as him, screaming: I fucking love my brother and here’s a song about it. He won’t let you take baby steps: either you jump off the cliff or you stay on the ledge, alone.
He used to say tell you that, all the time. I’m the only one who knows you, he’d murmur into your skin, lips pressed to your shoulder. I have a wife and children and am beloved by millions, you’d respond, and he’d smile, curl his fingers around your hip and pull you closer. Yeah, but no one’ll ever feel like I do, about you. He’d crash your dates and spy on you while you were having sex and smash your instruments because it had to be about the two of you, go big or go home. If you weren’t with him, you were alone – didn’t matter if there were a hundred thousand people screaming your name.
If you ever go back to Liam (and that is a very big if), you know what he’ll do. Tilt his head, look as though he’s casting his gaze over a thousand-foot cliff, and say, “You good now?” Because that’s what he’ll want: all of you, every single piece. He wants you to jump and not care about the consequences. He wants you to love him like you had – fervently, maniacally, like your life depended on it – not like you do (despondently, regretfully, longingly).
And you can’t. You just can’t let him do that, let him dig his nails into your heart, tie a noose around your neck and trust him not to tighten it. You’re not twenty seven anymore. You tell yourself you don’t want to be.
You look out at the wind: it’s got almost violent out there. Storm’s a coming, he used to singsong when the weather got like that, like lightning could hit him and it wouldn’t stop his stride. He hasn’t changed.
You’re not like that. You act like you’re invincible, but you know you’re not. You can’t jump off that cliff, say I love you in that wholehearted way that he does.
From time to time, we will fall side by side/you'll still have that look in your eye – those old lyrics play over in your mind, and you think maybe they would’ve sounded a bit more true if he’d sung them. The second line’s an inevitability, but the first...you don’t know.
Maybe it’s true, though. Maybe one day you’ll meet his gaze, look off into the abyss, and decide that today seems like a good day to jump.