By Audrey Lambert, TIWP Student
Be honest with me. Where can I go from here? A girl with no parents loses her brother. A girl with no friends loses everything.
I still haven’t cleared out his room. I can’t bring myself to do so. Our apartment is so quiet, so empty. I wouldn’t have admitted this to him, but god, I miss him.
I miss his laugh. I miss his smile. I miss the way he would ruffle my hair and say, “Stop worrying, sis. Everything will be okay,” and I’d roll my eyes because there was no way he could know that. I wish he was here now, so I could say “I told you so.” I wish he was here, period.
It feels like the only thing I wear anymore is his old sweatshirt. I refuse to wash it. It smells like him. I feel like if I wash it, I’d be taking even more of him away from myself.
Today is my first day back to school after it happened. People are going to give me pity smiles. People are go to ask me how I am and I’m going to have to say “okay” even though they’ll be able to see how much of a lie that is through the emptiness in my eyes.
My heart felt like a block of cement trying to weigh me down as my feet slugged up the steps to the school. I tugged at the fraying sleeves of his sweatshirt.
It felt like all eyes were on me. The air was tight and the hallway was almost silent. Though it hurt a lot for me, the school had lost their star quarterback. They were grieving too, and I was just a reminder of my brother. We never were too much alike. He had a sunny disposition and an outgoing personality. I was quite the opposite. Today was not an exception. I was worse now than ever. I heard his words in my head, “Don’t worry sis, everything will be okay.”
A couple of girls I hadn’t talked to since elementary school walked up to me, mascara running down their cheeks. They both embraced me.
“We’re so sorry for your loss.”
“Thank you,” I said uncomfortably.
I kept walking until I passed his locker. There were notes plastered all over it. I stood and read the notes. I extended a shaking hand to touch the notes. I didn’t realize the tears were pooling in my eyes until they came tumbling down my cheeks. “Why did you have to leave me?”
I remembered that all eyes and ears were on me, but by the time I started, I couldn’t stop it. Uncontrollable sobs escaped me. I started punching his locker. I punched until my knuckles were bloodied. I tore down all of the notes and sank down with my back against the wall of lockers.
A group of boys from the football team approached me.
“We’re sorry for your loss.”
“You don’t think I fucking know that!”
“Look, we lost a team member, too!”
“Don’t you dare compare the loss of my only family to the loss of a friend.”
My scream was interrupted by the voice of a teacher. He was my brother’s English teacher.
“Come with me.” I stared at him blankly. Was I going to get in trouble, seriously? “You’re okay. Just stand up.”
He brought me into his classroom. “You’re not in trouble. I just think that you should have this piece of your brother’s. It was about who your hero is. He handed me a paper.
“My Hero. My hero is my sister. She’s my only family. She keeps me going. She can always make me smile. I don’t know what I would do without her. She’s been with me through everything…”
I couldn’t finish reading it through the tears burning my face.
“Can I keep this?”
“Of course you can.”
When I got home, I framed what we wrote. Then I washed his sweatshirt. I realized he will always be with me. Even if he’s dead, I haven’t lost him. I can’t wash him away if he’s a part of me.