The author of this short novel is anonymous and all names have been changed to protect the...
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On November 20th, 2011 I was supposed to hang out with my brother, James. He goes to ___________ University and I had not seen him in quite some time, or at least it had felt like it. James tends to not stick with the plans he makes and lately it was really pissing me off. He called me at 3:30 and said that he was just leaving our grandparent’s house. So I didn’t make any plans and waited for him.
At around 5 o’clock I called him and told him how fed up I was with his constant ditching. He told me that he went to our Aunt Kim’s house (who has parental custody of him) and said that he would be at my house soon. Why was he there? I have no idea, and I was getting really agitated.
He finally came over at around 6 o’clock and then we hung out for about a half an hour and watched some anime. I really missed him and I tried to get as much time as I could with my brother alone to just hang out for once. I knew that James had wasted a lot of our hanging out time and I wanted to use up all that was left of it because later on we would be hanging out with our dad.
After watching the anime, Hetalia, we went back to our grandparent’s house, which made no sense to me since James was just there about an hour before. My dad had just gotten there as well and we all eat dinner. I really wanted to hang out with just James but I was starting to understand that this was not going to happen.
After our meal, when we were hanging out and watching the telly, my brother suddenly got up out of his seat. “Hey, dad! Can I go to Josh’s house for a couple minutes? I haven’t seen him in forever!” This friend of his had been a druggie in the past and I still believed him to be.
“James! I really wanted to hang out with you! I waited for you all day and you’re going to just ditch me again? What the hell?!” I chimed in before my father could say anything.
A flicker of guilt flashed upon in his otherwise pleading expression and I was happy to see that he still had some of the conscious he once obtained so much of.
About an hour had passed and he wasn’t back. My father received a text message from James, stating that he “was sick on the toilet,” to which my father replied, “TMI.” However, my father had some serious suspicions. My brother, James has been known for being a compulsive liar and a drug addict. He has even stolen from my grandparents. So, knowing this, we got in the car and drove to his friend’s house to see my brother’s car not in the driveway.
Shuffling in my pocket, I found my phone and called him. “James, are you on your way back?”
“Yeah, I’m walking out the door now,” he explained. I knew now for sure that he was lying again. I really thought he was done with this stuff and I wasn’t happy to find out that this was starting all over again. My dad walked up to the door and rang the doorbell while I waited in the car. A younger sibling of Josh answered.
“Hey, was James here?”
“No...” The kid looked confused.
“Well, is Josh here?”
“He hasn’t been here all night.” My father, grinding his teeth, walked back to the car.
This was the last straw. I was pissed. I wanted to punch something, anything! I wanted to kick and scream and yell; but I didn’t of course. Instead, I clenched my fists and breathed heavily, controlling myself. My father and I looked at each other through the dimly lit car, and we knew; we knew this was the day when everything changed.
When my father and I got back to my house, James was already there. I knew this was going to be very difficult and emotional so I tried to prepare myself. However, when we got inside the house, I had a hard time bringing it up.
“Hey guys! How was it?” My uncle Robby welcomed us as we walked in.
“Good,” I mumbled as I took off my jacket and hung it up in the closet.
My father sat at the little bar in my kitchen while James and I stood facing him. The tension was thick in the air as my father eyed James and Uncle Robby could sense it.
“James,” my father started after looking at me and knowing that I didn’t know what to say, “where were you tonight? You weren’t at Josh’s house because we drove there and Josh hasn’t even been there all night.”
James sighed; he had been caught, and he damn well knew it. “I was at Doby’s house,” he exclaimed.
Doby’s house. Doby’s house. This was not good. Doby is one of James’s old friends from our old town. I never liked that kid for he was always high and even told me that I would be funny high. For one of James’s friends to tell me that I would be funny high is just unacceptable! My brother of course, agreed with me there, but he still hung out with him and he was one of his best friends!
“Why couldn’t you just say that?!” My father spat.
“Because you wouldn’t have let me go!” James flailed his arms, panicking.
“You’re right about that! I’m so f*#&in’ sick of you lying to me! The other day at college when I said that Amber had a conscience and you didn’t is completely true! You had no F*#&in’ RIGHT to get mad at me for saying that!”
“Hey! Adam, we don’t use that kind of language in this house. I know you might talk like that in your house, but this is my house and in my house we don’t use that type of language!” My Uncle Robby informed, getting up out of his seat.
“Sorry,” grumbled my father.
My aunt, who was indulged in a good book, came downstairs to see what was going on. Just by looking at everyone, and by feeling the tension and disappointment that was think in the air, she knew exactly what had happened and sat quietly on the stairs.
My father’s words hung in the air while James slowly absorbed them. I looked at him, his face was so troubled. I wanted to hug him at slap him at the same time. I couldn't take this anymore! Why was he always doing this? And why now? He was so happy the last couple of months!
Tears welled up in my eyes and my uncle uncle approached me with open arms. I always find hugging my uncle comforting because his big belly makes him feel like a big stuffed bear. But, as they say, when one in need hugs someone, it triggers the tears. And that is exactly what happened.
The amount of pain I suddenly felt was overwhelming and my emotions were so strong. All I could do is sob as my uncle barked at my brother, “You see what you’re doing to this family? Do you see what you’re putting your little sister through? She’s supposed to look up to you!”
“I-I never did!” I choked in my uncle’s arms. And the second I said it, I wish I could have taken it back because that sentence; that one sentence hit James right through the heart. Now he too started to have a steady stream of tears traveling down his face.
“I know! You shouldn’t look up to me! I’m a drug addict and a liar! I’ve been such a bad brother! I.....I’m just like John!” James started backing away and stumbled into a chair.
John is my mother’s brother that I haven’t spoken to in years. He is where my brother and I get our addictive genes. He is a drug addict and lives a very poor life without his only child. His child was taken away from him about two years ago.
Sobbing, he couldn’t look at us anymore because he was so guilty. He needed to get away from everyone for everything was tumbling down around him. He was trapped around us and he knew that we wouldn’t let him get away with this.
“I- I need to go back to college. I just can’t be here. I have to go.”
Aunt Chloe got up from the steps and walked closer to James, causing him to step back more and aunt Chloe took the hint. “You are not going anywhere in the state that you’re in!” She ordered.
“I don’t deserve to be here! All you guys want to help me and all I ever do is let you down! I can’t! I just can’t!” James held his hands up, in retreat.
“You are going to stay right here!” Aunt Chloe exclaimed.
“Well I can’t be here! I don’t deserve your love and kindness! Can I at least take a walk?!” James hollered.
“Fine, you can do that. But give me your keys,” Aunt Chloe held out her hand and James reluctantly shoved the keys in her palm.
James stumbled out the door in sobs and I turned back to uncle Robby and cried softly into his chest. I didn’t want him to go, but I knew that he couldn’t stay with us either. I wished he would just go into my room or something though, because I was sincerely picturing going to the park to find my brother hanging from a tree with nothing but a note in his pocket.
After some time passed, James wasn’t back yet. I opened the door and a gust of wind ran down my spine.
“He’s not back yet.” I worried, looking out into the distance. Aunt Chloe walked over to me and I turned to her. “We have to go see if he’s okay,” I exclaimed.
We got into the car a few minutes later and drove down the street. Instead of finding James hanging from a tree, we found him sitting against one. He inhaled the cancer from his cigarette and exhaled deeply, the smoke almost like the frost one’s breath makes in the dead of winter.
Just as I got out of the car, another car pulled up next to James and his girlfriend walked out of the passenger seat as her mother parked on the side of the road.
Did he really call his girlfriend and asked her to pick him up? Was he really not going to tell us? What did he expect us to do when we came to check up on him to find no one there?
Aunt Chloe was furious, “Get in the car now, James. You are not going with Kate.”
James ignored her as Kate got James up and embraced him in a hug. I walked towards them and James quickly handed Kate something. “This is all I have left,” he mumbled, his voice raspy.
Kate threw what James had given her down the sewer swiftly and came rushing back to him.
“You’re not going with Kate!” Aunt Chloe exclaimed.
“He clearly can’t even look at us Aunt Chloe! How the hell is he supposed to sleep in the same house as us tonight?!” I argued.
“James, your Aunt is right,” Kate’s mom chimed in walking towards us.
James was shaking like a Chihuahua. “I- I can’t. I- I can’t,” he kept on repeating.
“James, the anxiety is getting to you! You’re going through the phase where you can’t stop shaking! You need to calm down! Trust me I know how it feels!” I said with worry.
Kate looked at me morosely. “It’s not anxiety, it’s the drugs.”
After a long and hard battle, Kate and her mom drove away. Sobs from both my brother and his girlfriend echoed in my head.
I hugged James as he shook and my aunt came up to me, “You should walk James back home,” she muttered and then walked back to the car and drove away.
My brother, who was shaking so much it was almost like seizures, walked down the street with me at his side keeping him from falling over. He was wasted; so wasted I was surprised that he could speak. This couldn’t have been from just Ambians, but I tried to convince myself otherwise. He stumbled for words. He was crying still as he tried to tell me something.
“Amber!” he stopped dead in his stacks, tears running down his face.
I turned to him, “What, James?” I signed, overwhelmed.
“I’m not taking Ambians anymore,” he looked down at the damp graphite illuminated by the occasional street lights that stood in the streets. Finally, after a minute, he looked back up at me, “Amber, I’m a Heroin addict.”
I was taken aback. I couldn’t find words to say, all I knew was that I was scared. I was scared that my brother was going to die and if not tonight, soon. He was way too far in and now I feared that he would never get out. I have heard so much about how Heroin kills.
“Amber I’m a f*#&ing Heroin addict! There, I said it!”
The rest of the walk was silent for the most part. However, he kept on exclaiming that he couldn’t tell anyone because he couldn’t go to Rehab again. I wasn’t sure why though.
We both just walked down the street with only the stars and the occasional street lights to guide us. I had to steady James the whole walk home because he couldn’t walk. However, when we got to the doorstep, James turned to me. His pupils were so small. I couldn’t believe my eyes. I didn’t think a person’s eyes could even get so tiny!
With his eyelids threatening to consume him into sleep. He put his hand on my shoulder. “Amber,” he exclaimed, “I have spoken to people whose siblings have done Heroin. And either he or she is in jail, nowhere to be found, or dead.” He swallowed hard. “I don’t want that to be you. I want to be the brother you can look up to.”
I took this in slowly. This is really happening to my brother. He is using Heroin. “I don’t want to you die, James.” I held back tears, and to try to lighten things up I said, “Well, not to be selfish... but it’s kind of good that this happened in a way. I mean like, I’m never going to do drugs now!” I laughed and so did he.
“Yeah, Amber... I know. At least some good can come out of this.”
I turned away and opened the door. I quickly helped James upstairs exclaiming, “James is just really tired, I’m going to get him to bed.”