I was sitting on a chair. It was old and made of oak. I had been sitting there for a long time, if the Curious George end credits in the other room were anything to go by. I heard pounding, fast-paced steps run through the hall, towards the front room of our house, the bay window filled with green revealing the bustle of cars rushing home from a number of workplaces. The echo of engines and the symphony of planes flying overhead wasn’t enough to drown out the life in the home. The steps grew soft as my little brother stopped in front of me, his hands grabbing the sleeves of my grey sweatshirt.
Lately, I had been wearing grey a lot.
He climbed carefully into my lap, his growing feet almost touching the floor. “What do you need?”, I asked, my voice dull. “Nothing, just want to sit with you.” He replied. His voice was shrill and squeaky. We stayed silent. While the sounds outside continued, my thoughts wandered.
Why am I here? What is my purpose? Am I supposed to believe that this is all I am worth? At school, they see a dark Ice Queen, an emotionless drone that tries to control everything in her life. At home, they see a threat. An escaped asylum prisoner who lashes out without remorse. I see a mistake. A person who has made too many mistakes to mean anything to anyone. A pencil line that needs to be erased. Erased. Erased. Would it matter? Would anyone care? Could I get over my cowardice and actually succeed? A sudden tug on my arm pulled me out of my velvet thoughts.
“Can I tell you a secret?”
“I get scared when you do that.”
Do what? I asked.
“You disappear for awhile. It’s like you hide away in yourself.”
You shouldn’t worry about that.
“But I do! I’m scared! I’m scared that one day you will hide away and I’ll never find you again!”
He was crying. My little brother was crying. I did that. I made him cry. I don’t want to make him cry. Let me go. Let me help. I have to help.
I hugged him and made him a snack. Little green cucumbers cut into stars. His favorite. He always loved the stars.
What is my purpose? My purpose is looking up at the night sky on summer nights, my brother’s hand in mine. It’s keeping him safe, making sure he never cries. It’s letting him read my books, even when he reads them upside down.
“What is this word?”
“What does it mean?”
“A SPIDER?! Where? I don’t like spiders! Save me!”
He jumped on my stomach, knocking me over in the process. “So that’s your weakness?” I accused. “I have no weakness!” He shouted, his voice echoing in my ear. I looked by his foot.
“There’s a spider by your foot.”
He froze, looking towards said appendage, and saw the daddy long legs that was stuck in his bedroom carpet. He proceeded to scream, jumping off of me. I named it Fred. He called it Beast.
It was times like these that made me think of him the most. We had just been told of the letter. That stupid yellow letter. The words “evicted” and “moving” repeated themselves in my head. We had already moved twice this year. It was December, a cold winter, but not the worst we’ve experienced. As I looked around my room, now full of cardboard boxes and totes, I listened to my thoughts, all saying it was my fault. It couldn’t have been my fault, could it? I started to ask myself why I was put in a world where only terrible events happen to good people. Why I had to be alive to see my family suffer. Why am I here?
As soon as that thought went through my head, I heard my little brother calling my name. Huh, I thought. Maybe things would get better. They certainly couldn’t get any worse.