As I entered my house that beautiful Juneday, I was on top of the world. My last day in eighth grade was done andmy imagination was running wild with thoughts of varsity basketball andhigh school.
When I noticed my brother's car, I was astonished.Not only had I not noticed he was home, but he hadn't greeted me. We'vealways been close; he was usually thrilled to be home, and even morethrilled to see me.
His door was closed. My fear lessened. Hemust be sleeping, I thought as I grasped the door handle. But my fearreturned when it would not open. No one in our family locks doors. Ididn't know what to do. I calmed myself and gentlyknocked.
"Chris, are you okay?" Iasked.
"Yeah, bud," he replied.
I didn't believehim, though. He never locked his door. Something wasup.
"Hey, man, can I come in?" I asked in myfriendliest voice.
There was a pause. By this point I wanted tokick the door down. I didn't know what was wrong. My adrenaline wasflowing and my muscles were tensed.
"Yeah, bud, wait asec," he said.
As the door opened I started to ask him whyhe'd locked his door, but what I saw stopped me. My brother, always sostrong and proud, looked like pure sadness. I'll never forget his eyes.Always gleaming with confidence and happiness, they were barely open. Ididn't know what to say. I had no choice but just to hug him. I hadnever seen him like this. He hugged me tight and I could tell he wastense.
"What's wrong?" I whispered. He pulled awayand I could see tears building. The sight of my strong, larger-than-lifebrother crying brought tears to my eyes. He looked straight atme.
"I don't want to go to college, Nick," he choked."I never have. College just isn't for me. I'm so scared; I justcan't go."
Confusion ran through me. Not in a million yearswould I expect him to say this. I was so glad he told me, but didn'tknow what to say. I hugged him again and said, "That's okay, bud,no one ever said you had to go." I could feel him relax. I'll neverforget his face, so sad, but most of all, I'll never forget those tears.Those tears of fear.
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.