To Know and Understand

To Know and Understand

A Story by Juan More Story

Rogelio missed the days when he had all the time in the world to just play games. When having a group of friends was enough of a social life. Not the complicated mess he stumbled into with Perla...


Rogelio squinted as the sun reflected off the back window of a faded blue Honda Civic. School had been out for almost twenty minutes already, but there was still a line of traffic as parents arrived to pick up their moody teenagers for the weekend. He watched the car as it snaked its way out of traffic and turn a corner, out of sight. He then turned around to face his friend Perla and resumed their conversation.

“What about this movie, Headstrong?” Rogelio asked, reading the title from his smartphone.

“Whats it about?” Perla asked, watching the traffic jam.

“I don't know. Let's check out the trailer,” Rogelio said as he tapped the screen.

Perla took her eyes off the road and leaned closer to watch the video on the tiny screen. Rogelio used the opportunity to sneak sideways glances of Perla as the video showed cliché action scenes. He looked at the smooth skin of her face, and her long dark hair flowing around her neck and down her chest. Not wanting to be a pervert, he resumed looking at her face.

“Give me back my family!” The burly actor yelled as the trailer ended.

Perla laughed heartily.

“I don't know about you, but I have no idea what that movie was about,” Perla said.

“Yeah, me neither,” Rogelio said, truthfully.

“What else is playing tomorrow?”

“Hmm,” Rogelio said, scrolling through the list on his phone. “We could always watch that one chick flick with Angelina Jolie.”

“You actually want to watch that?” Perla asked, surprised.

“Well, yeah! Its got Angelina Jolie,” Rogelio teased.

“You a*****e!” Perla laughed as she shoved him lightly. “Seriously though, what should we watch tomorrow?”

“Let's just keep watching trailers until we find something that looks good,” Rogelio said as he loaded another one.

They were half-way through the third trailer when a call from his mom interrupted.

“Hi, Mom,” Rogelio answered.

“Where are you?” Emilia demanded.

“I'm still at school, why?”

“What do you mean why? You're supposed to be picking up your brother right now!”

“Oh yeah! Sorry Mom, I forgot,” Rogelio feigned. He had remembered earlier, but figured he had some time before the school would call his mother. Apparently that happened much sooner than he anticipated.

“Just hurry up and go get him.”

There was a click as she hung up on him.

“Something wrong?” Perla asked, concern on her face.

“Nah, I just forgot to pack my little brother's juice in his lunch,” Rogelio lied. “Let's finish picking out a movie.”

“Can't, my dad just pulled up,” Perla said, waving her father over. “We'll just pick something when we're there tomorrow.”

“Okay,” Rogelio said, disappointed.

“See-ya tomorrow!” Perla called out as she hopped into her father's green Toyota truck.

“Bye,” Rogelio sighed.

He watched her leave before walking over to his own car. Traffic had all but disappeared, and he drove fast over to his brother's school. The speed was more out of his excitement for Saturday than any urgency for his brother.

There was an older lady standing next to his brother when he pulled up in front of the middle school. She wore a dress that looked like it was in style back in the 80's, with thick glasses to match. She looked annoyed at having to stay late on a Friday, and Rogelio wondered if he was making her late to a Flock of Seagulls concert.

Sorry I'm late,” Rogelio said as Gustavo opened the door to get in. He said it loud enough for the Seagulls fan to hear.

“Whatever,” Gustavo fumed as he slammed the door shut.

“Hey, I said I was sorry,” Rogelio defended as he drove off.

“And I said 'whatever'”.

Rogelio stopped at a red light and took a moment to look over. Gustavo was facing away from him, but Rogelio could still see his reflection in the window. The younger brother was frowning; at twelve years old he was at that age where he was too old to cry but still young enough to want to.

In that angry little boy's face Rogelio saw the scar that only showed up when he frowned. Gustavo got it by hitting his head on the ceiling fan when he was jumping on the bed. Rogelio knew it was going to happen, but was too engrossed in his videogame to really stop it.

From then on, every time Gustavo frowned it was a reminder of how he had let his brother down.

“You know,” Rogelio said. “We still got a couple of hours before Mom gets home. Want to kill some time at Game Alley?”

“Really?” Gustavo asked, scar fading from view as his interest piqued.

“Yeah. I heard they let you demo the new Call of Duty.”

“Okay!” Gustavo said as a smile took over.

“Okay,” Rogelio repeated as he passed up their street and headed for the videogame store.

They played for an hour straight in the small shop. The owner looked peeved as the boys left the store without having bought anything. Not that Rogelio hadn't been tempted, but he was saving his money for the movies the next day.

The brothers arrived home a few minutes before their mother was due back, and they immediately began to do their chores. Their mom never liked coming home to a messy house, especially when the kids were (supposed to be) home after school the whole time.

Rogelio was sweeping the kitchen as their mom came through the front door.

“Hi, Mom!” Rogelio called out as sweetly as he could.

“No me hables asi!” Emilia scolded as she came into the kitchen.

“Like what?” Rogelio asked, knowing he was just digging himself a deeper grave.

“Like you did nothing wrong.”

“I know, I know. I'm sorry I forgot to pick up Gustavo, Mom.”

“But how could you forget? You know you're supposed to pick up your brother on Fridays.”

“I know, but...”

“But this is the the third Friday in a row that you've forgotten! For that, you're grounded for a week.”

“But I have plans tomorrow!” Rogelio protested, his jaw dropping subconsciously.

“Well then next time you should remember to pick up your little brother.”

“I will! I promise! ” Rogelio pleaded. “I won't forget again; and if I do then you can ground me for two weeks. Just let me go to the movies tomorrow!”

“No,” Emilia answered without hesitation. “I need you to see how important this is.”

“I do! I swear! I just need to--”

“I said no, Rogelio!”

Rogelio glared at her and then stormed off to his room, slamming the door. He turned the volume to his stereo all the way up and collapsed onto his bed. Over the next half hour his thoughts swayed back and forth from his mom being the most unfair parent in the world to thinking that she had a point.

He knew he had screwed up. Looking at that scar was proof enough. He just wished his mom understood why Saturday was so important. He never got to see Perla outside of school. It didn't matter that--

The music suddenly lowered and Rogelio looked over in surprise. His father was standing next to the stereo, a look of concern on his face instead of anger. Jaime knew that the stereo was never that loud unless his son was either really angry or really sad; in this case it was both.

“Whats wrong?” Jaime asked. He was still wearing his uniform from the video store where he worked.

“Nothing,” Rogelio seethed.

“So your music was about to bring the whole house down over nothing?” Jaime asked as he sat on the bed next to his son.

“Well,” Rogelio said, as he took a breath. “I was a little late in picking up Gustavo and mom freaked out and even though I promised to never do it again she grounded me anyways which I think is really unfair.”

“But this isn't the fist time you've been late, Rogelio.”

“I know, and normally I wouldn't really care about just one week, but tomorrow was supposed to be...special.”

“I see,” Jaime smiled in understanding. “Let's make a deal; just me and you. You can go tomorrow, but you will be grounded starting Sunday. Sound good?”

“Deal!” Rogelio said as they shook on it. “But what about Mom?”

“I'll talk with your mom. Just go set the table for dinner.”

“Okay,” Rogelio said and rushed out without a second thought.

Rogelio walked past the living room, saw his little brother playing videogames, and stopped.

“Mom says you have to set the table,” Rogelio ordered.

“Awww,” Gustavo groaned in frustration.

He paused the game and went into the kitchen. Rogelio grinned as he grabbed the controller and started to play in his stead. A few minutes later Gustavo came back and scowled.

“Hey I was playing!” Gustavo complained.

“I'll give it back. Let me just finish this part.”

“Didn't Mom ground you?”

“Yeah but--”

“MOM!” Gustavo yelled.

“You're such a pain in the a*s!” Rogelio said, punching his younger brother in the shoulder to silence him. “Dad says I'm not grounded until Sunday.”

“Your dad said what?” Emilia asked from the doorway.

Rogelio froze like a deer in headlights. He slowly turned his head and looked at her.

“Dad and I talked,” Rogelio said slowly, choosing his words carefully. “I'm still grounded but he is letting me go to the movies tomorrow. After that, I will serve my time in peace. All of it.”

Emilia looked at Rogelio with fury in her eyes. Gustavo had long since moved away from his brother's side and hid behind the sofa. After what felt like an eternity their mother finally spoke.

“Dinner is ready,” she said flatly, and then walked away.

The boys let out a sigh of relief and then immediately followed. Fate had dealt them an escape, and they did not hesitate to take it. They fumbled into the kitchen and saw their parents giving each other the same stare down their mother just gave them.

“Uh...” Gustavo started.

“Eat,” Emilia commanded, and left the room; Jaime followed suit.

The boys sat at the table, but did not make a move to eat the delicious tostadas laid out before them. Both of them sat in silence, straining to listen to the conversation their parents were having in their bedroom. Neither of them dared to move into the hallway to listen; half from fear of their mother, half from fear of finding out just how bad things really were between them.

“They've been doing that a lot,” Gustavo said suddenly, breaking the silence of the kitchen.

“They're adults. They're always talking about serious stuff. Its normal,” Rogelio said uneasily. He was trying to reassure himself as much as his brother.

“It wasn't always normal.”

The words hung in the air like storm clouds. The muffled shouts rained down on them, watering the seeds of doubt they both had buried deep in their minds.

“Here, I'll clean up,” Rogelio said after another inscrutably silent minute. “You set up Street Fighter on versus; I haven't kicked your a*s in awhile.”

“That's because you suck at Street Fighter,” Gustavo said smartly.

“Whatever. Just go set it up,” Rogelio said.


Gustavo got up and ran to the living room to set up the game.

Rogelio watched him leave, and wondered how much longer he would be able to distract his brother with videogames. He tossed the thought aside, and was just grateful that it was still that easy.

An hour later the brothers were locked in combat, with Gustavo ahead by two wins. Rogelio missed the days when he had all the time in the world to just play games. When having a group of friends was enough of a social life. Not the complicated mess he stumbled into with Perla...

His thoughts were broken when the boys heard the their mother shouting through the closed door their parents' bedroom.

“I just wish you would take things more seriously!” Emilia shouted.

They immediately stopped playing and looked at each other in surprise. They had never been that loud before.

“I do take things seriously!” Jaime retorted.

“If you had you would have saved the business instead of shrugging and watching it fail!”

“Well if that's what you think I did then maybe I don't have to take this marriage seriously!”

“Time up!” the game shouted. Neither of them had bothered to pause the game.

After that there was silence.

“I'm sure Dad didn't mean what he said,” Rogelio said to break the silence. “They're just angry.”

“I've never heard Dad yell like that,” Gustavo said in disbelief.

“Things'll be fine. I promise.”

Gustavo's tearful eyes looked up at Rogelio.

“Now then,” Rogelio said. “Since you forfeited that match, that is one more win for me.”

“Hey I didn't forfeit! I just got distracted.”

“Same thing.”

“Noh-uh,” Gustavo said, shoving Rogelio.

“Ya-huh,” Rogelio said, returning the favor.

Suddenly they heard the front door slam shut. Their smiles faded as quickly as they had come, and they went to the window to see who had left.

They watched their father slam the truck door shut and pull out of the driveway.

“Rogelio. Gustavo. I need to talk to you two,” Emilia said from the doorway.

“Where's Dad going?” Gustavo immediately asked.

“He is going to Tió Thomas' house,” she sighed.

“Why?” Gustavo asked, fear in his voice.

“Because they're getting a divorce,” Rogelio answered solemnly.

“No they're not!” Gustavo vehemently denied. “Tell him Mom!”

“I'm sorry mijo but its true,” Emilia said, wiping away a tear.


“Shut up, Gustavo!” Rogelio commanded. He could tell their mother was about to break down crying at any moment.

Gustavo looked over at him, the scar in full view as tears streamed down his face.

“You said everything would be okay! You promised!” he yelled and ran off to his room.

Rogelio flinched as Gustavo slammed the door shut. Tears had welled up in Emilia's eyes.

“Mom, are you...”

“I'm fine, mijo,” Emilia said. “Its for the best. Your dad just...we...just grew apart. Nothing was going to change that. I'm going to clean up dinner.”

Emilia gave him a hug and then walked out of the room, leaving Rogelio with the news that was starting to sink in.

Rogelio had seen it coming, but he had kept hope alive for Gustavo's sake. Now he was wondering if he had been wrong to lie to his brother. Then again, he didn't know it was a lie. For all he knew their parents could have patched things up and moved on. But even that thought was still of no comfort to the cold reality that his little brother was in pain.

Furious, Rogelio ran to his room and slammed the door; apparently for today it was the cool thing to do. He kicked the random pieces of clothing on his floor and stopped, suddenly feeling alone. His brother was angry at him, his mom was a wreck, and his dad had left all of them.

Not knowing what else to do, Rogelio opened up his laptop and signed into Facebook. He looked at the list of people signed on to chat and saw only a few acquaintances. Perla was the only close friend signed on. He kept the mouse over her name, unsure of what to say.

hey she messaged.

whats up? he replied.

nothing much

just bored she said.

o rly

maybe u should get ur lazy a*s off the comp


look whos talking a*****e

b***h he lashed out.

j/k he added a moment too late.

whats wrong?

Perla asked a moment later.

Rogelio blinked in surprise. How did she know?

what do you mean?

you've never called me that b4

what, u can call me an a*****e all u want but i cant call u n e thing?


theres sumthing else goin on

u no u can talk 2 me

He took a moment to think about how to respond. As his eyes wandered he saw his friend Armando had just posted a picture of himself with his girlfriend. He then made his decision.

its nothin

just tired i guess

r u sure? she coaxed.


i'll just cya 2morrow

Rogelio signed off quickly before he changed his mind. The short chat was just another reminder of how alone he really was.

He knew he could trust Perla. They had opened up to each other in the past, her more-so than he, but if he opened up to her now there would be no turning back. He would want to be more than just friends. He couldn't risk losing her friendship, and he especially didn't want to lose--

There was a knock at the door, and Emilia came into the room.

“Rogelio, you can go to the movies with your friends tomorrow. Your dad is coming to pick up his things and I'd rather you not be here for it.”

“Oh, okay,” Rogelio replied, halfheartedly.

“Good night,” she said, kissing him on the forehead.

She left the room and Rogelio plopped onto his bed and stared at the ceiling. He stared for hours until his mind slowed down enough to finally allow him to sleep.

“Rogelio,” Emilia called through the door.

“Mande?” he replied groggily.

“Armando is on the phone for you!”

“Okay,” Rogelio said as he slowly got out of bed.

He walked over to the kitchen and picked up the corded land-line of the house. He never understood why his parents never bought a cordless phone.

“Hello,” Rogelio said.

“Hey Rogelio,” Armando said. “I tried calling your cell but it kept going straight to voicemail.”

“Yeah its probably dead. I forgot to charge it. Whats up?”

“Just calling to ask if you need a ride to the movies.”

Emilia walked into the room, trailed by a roused up Gustavo.

“But Mom, I don't wanna go to Tia Fabi's house! Its so boooring,” Gustavo complained.

“Mijo, I have things to do. You're just going to have to deal with it,” Emilia said.

“Uh...yeah...I guess. Hold on,” Rogelio said, distracted. He covered the mouthpiece with his hand and looked over at his mom. “Hey mom, I can just take Gustavo with me, since, you know, you'll be busy.”

“Yeah Mom! I can go with Rogelio!” Gustavo chimed in support.

“Really?” Emilia asked, surprised.

“Yeah. I'll just ask Armando to bring his little sister too.”

Gustavo's smile widened, and Rogelio chuckled at the transparency of his little brothers crush.

“Okay you can go,” Emilia said.

“Okay,” Rogelio said and returned to the phone. “Hey Armando, my mom is making me bring my little brother too. Wanna bring Stephanie to keep him off our backs?”

Now Emilia chuckled at his attempt to act cool.

“Yeah it should be fine. I'll be over in five minutes.”

“Alright. See ya,” Rogelio said and hung up.

“Thanks Rogelio!” Gustavo ran up and hugged him.

“Yeah, yeah. Go put your shoes on.”

“Okay,” Gustavo said as he ran off.

“Thank you, Rogelio,” Emilia said and hugged him as well.

“You're welcome,” Rogelio said. “I gotta go change.”

A few minutes later Armando rolled up in his faded blue Honda Civic. The boys were already waiting outside and jumped into the car; Gustavo in back with Stephanie and Rogelio in front with Armando.

“No Perla?” Rogelio asked, clipping on his seat-belt.

“Her dad is dropping her off. You know how he is,” Armando explained.


Armando looked like he had something to say, but instead he drove off, the kids in the back giggling while the teenagers sat in silence. After a few minutes Armando decided to speak his mind.

“She was worried about you, you know,” Armando said.

“Why?” Rogelio asked, playing dumb.

“She said you sounded funny last night. She was the one that tried calling you this morning, not me. After she couldn't get a hold of you she called me asking to call your house.”

“I guess she really was worried,” Rogelio said. Butterflies began to fly in his stomach.

“You understand that she is with me though, right?” Armando asked, reading his facial expression. His tone was firm but not threatening. They had been friends for too long for threats.

“Don't worry, I haven't forgotten,” Rogelio said, his eyes looking straight ahead.

“I mean, I trust you and all, but she is an amazing girl. I don't know what I would have done if she had chosen you.”

“You would do what I do.”

“Whats that?”

“Methodically plan your murder.”

“Shut the hell up,” Armando said, laughing.

They passed the front of the movie theater as Armando looked for a place to park. They saw Perla waiting for them underneath the glowing neon sign of the theater. She spotted them and waved, her beautiful smile captivating the two friends.

Rogelio waved back. It felt like good-bye instead of hello.

© 2012 Juan More Story

Author's Note

Juan More Story
What do you think of the ending? I thought about ending it a little sooner but I ended up keeping the original ending.

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I liked the ending, as well as your characterizations within the story. You make the reader actually CARE about what happens to them. That is truly an arduous task, but you pulled it off masterfully.Great write!

Posted 11 Years Ago

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1 Review
Added on June 27, 2012
Last Updated on June 27, 2012
Tags: Family, Dating, Perla, Rogelio, Divorce, Teenager, Older, Brother, Brothers


Juan More Story
Juan More Story


I have a strange perception of the world. I look at it in such a negative light that it tends to exceed my expectations, making the world seem beautiful. As a result some of my writing doesn't have.. more..

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