This month’s chatterbox, curtosy of Rachel, is criticism! I think it’s an excellent subject for a Chatterbox, but for a while I couldn’t think of anything to write (as per the last two Chatterboxes. You wouldn’t think ‘mythology’ would be a subject to elude me, but elude me it did) – so, I decided, instead, to give you a rather criticism-filled section of Natural Disasters. I’ve had a few requests for more Jasper on this blog, as he’s going to have his own Getting to Know You in a couple months, so here you are, and I hope you enjoy it!
Adam pulled up in front of the mansion and did not bother to park straight. He stood outside the front door. “Jasper, get out here now!”
After a few seconds of delay, the front door opened and Jasper appeared wearing a neutral expression. “You look vexed, brother.”
“Vexed. Hmm. Yes, you could say I’m vexed.” Adam nodded and clenched his fists. He could feel anger surging through him, giving him power; power that grew harder and harder to control the angrier he got. “What do you think you were doing?”
Jasper folded his arms. “What I said I would do. What did you think? That my threat was empty? You should know by now that empty threats are not my style. Besides, I deserve at least five points for flair, although perhaps the timing could have been better. Interrupting your intimate dinner with December; it was very rude of me.”
Very calmly, Adam said, “Step outside.”
Jasper hesitated, but walked down the front steps until he was a few feet away from his older brother. A tremor ran through the ground, faint but impossible not to notice.
Jasper’s face twisted into a look of daring. “Go ahead,” he said, his voice nearly a hiss. “Do your worst.”
There was a blur, a faint sound of rushing air, and Jasper was gone. Adam shook his head and followed him, away from the house. He caught up with his brother half a mile into the woods, waiting for him amid a ring of towering pine trees.
“Look at you!” Jasper spread his arms, his steps backing him away. “So eager to punish the wrongdoers in the world. You were born to the wrong life, brother.”
The phrase struck Adam somewhere inside. He often wished his life were different, even though such wishing was pointless and perhaps immature of him. Still, it was a desire he could never quite quench or bury. How he did try.
“Speechless, I see. You always were a man of few words.” Jasper lowered his arms.
The trees burst into flame.
Heat scorched Adam from every side, surrounding him by a ring of fire.
Jasper’s eyes were alight; everything about him wanted Adam to fight back. He was ready. He wanted it.
Adam gave it to him.
The tree behind Jasper uprooted with a creaking, tearing sound and sailed through the air. It fell where Jasper had been standing not a second before.
He turned, knowing Jasper would be behind him, and met a full-on tackle. He went down, his skin scorching with fire. The ground rumbled like thunder as burning tree after burning tree toppled around them, smashing into the ground. Sparks and wood flew through the air, striking everything in sight.
Adam rolled on top of Jasper and forgot control as he punched him in the face until blood coated his knuckles. Jasper screamed, but it was a sound of rage, not pain. He shoved his arm up, wrapped it around Adam’s shoulder.
Before Adam could pull out of the embrace, Jasper wrenched. There was a crunching pop as Adam’s shoulder dislocated, rendering his right arm temporarily useless.
So he pushed his left arm down across Jasper’s throat as hard as he could, until his brother choked for air. The last remaining tree in the circle groaned and fell in a shower of ignited pine needles.
“I will tell you once more,” he said, breathing heavy. “Leave December, and her family, alone.”
Jasper punched him in the ribs, and he felt one of them crack. Jasper seized the moment of Adam’s weakness and shoved him away. Adam saw his brother roll to his feet, blood dripping from his mouth, and stand several yards away.
“I will not stand by and watch as you let one meaningless, pathetic existence destroy our whole life,” Jasper snarled.
Surrounded by flames below and the dark sky above, he was so clearly inhuman that it hurt Adam to look at him.
“Jasper, please,” he pleaded, one hand outstretched in supplication. “Think.”
“Like you?” Jasper flung out his arms. “That’s the problem with you, Adam. You think so much that actions get lost in the process.”
Adam struggled to reply without raising his voice beyond what was necessary. All it would take was the slightest provocation before Jasper enacted out his violence again. “Action without thought is a dangerous thing, as you have so dramatically proven over the years.”
“Spoken like a true coward, always hiding behind his principles.” Jasper wiped his hand across his mouth. It came away blood-smeared. “If you will not protect our family, brother, then it falls to me.”
“You do not protect it, Jasper! Don’t you see?” Adam’s voice broke for his brother, his little brother.
Look at you.
His taste for conflict replaced with disheartenment, Adam swallowed and said, “You drive us away. I should never have allowed you to turn into this.”
For one brief moment, he could see through the confident, despised armor on his brother’s face; see through to the bitter, frightened soul beneath.
Then Jasper laughed. He lifted a finger and pointed it at Adam. “You,” he scorned, “are a sentimental fool.” He shook his head, as if giving up, and crossed the clearing. “One of these days your sentimentality will get the better of you.” Jasper held out his hand, his smile a bloody thing of derision, as if he had given into the realization that Adam would never see eye to eye with him.
Adam took his brother’s hand, and Jasper helped him to his feet. “And you,” he told him, grasping his hand in a grip of sincerity, “are not as hopeless as you would have me believe.”
Jasper blinked once. “You hold out such high hopes for me, brother.” His gaze was probing, searching his brother’s eyes. “It must be such a strain.”
Adam did not reply, did not step into another argument. Instead he watched Jasper turn away and stride out of the decimated clearing, disappearing behind a shroud of smoke.
It was not before Adam saw the sheen in his brother’s molten eyes.