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Introduction: The Lost Brother
Kim’s the eldest in our family of eight. That is if you count me and my parents. My parents loved to show off things that he’d done. He was their perfect child. Athletic, smart, enjoyed helping people, and on top of all that he was, as Charlotte put it, “hmm, hmm, hmmm fine.”
At church he was the first one to receive his Eagle badge. He was a devoted church member, and every Fast Sunday he bore his testimony. In my opinion, he was the best candidate for future missionary. And he was my older brother.
Every where I went people always said “Oh, you’re Kim’s sister.” And I’d always look at the person and declare “Yes, I am.” But what they didn’t know was that I was his favorite sibling.
Even though I’m third youngest, we did every thing together. Kim was my best friend. He was my confidant. In the middle of the night, when I would whimper in the dark, wanting to go get my parents but too afraid to set one foot on the floor Kim would come sleep in bed with me. He would scare away all the monsters under the bed or in the closet that I happened to see. Later he taught me how to properly throw a football. That is until the day when my world shattered and my big brother, my only friend, disappeared forever.
I was nine when the arguing between my parents and Kim started, and a few weeks after my tenth Birthday I received the worst present of all. I woke up one morning with a letter from Kim in my hand. I went into his room to wake him up and give him a hard time about my birthday card being so late. But all I found was most of his things packed and he was gone.
When I opened the letter it was very short. It read “I have to go. I didn’t want to wake you up, so good bye. I love you. I’ll miss you. I’ll think of you. I’ll be back for you. Please find it in your heart to forgive me. And think of me. Love your brother, Kim.” My parents got a letter too. How I found out about it, still no one knows but me. Their letter read “I love you two. I’ll miss you. I’ll think of you. I’ll be back for Austin. (My nick name) Please find it in your hearts to forgive me. Love your son, Kim.”
For a long time I didn’t know what had happened. Adrian and Adam (they’re twins and both older than me) wouldn’t tell me where he had gone. All I knew was that whenever I asked mama where he had gone she’d either get all weepy or very strict and annoyed, and when I asked my dad he would get this sad look in his eyes like the whole world were crushing him and he would put a forced smile on his face. The type that read the pain hurts but I’m going to smile and pretend like I’m fine just for you. Then he would pat my head or rub my arm and tell me “He’s gone to work at a big company in the Caribbean.”
And that’s what we told everyone else who asked. He became our family’s biggest secret. No one ever said his name. It almost seemed as if his name had become the “K” word in our house. It wasn’t until years later that I found out exactly what that little phrase stood for.
I was eleven when our family moved down to Showlow, Arizona, a little town near the Utah border. Well, actually we live on the outskirts of the town on a ranch. It’s where the summers are blistering hot and the winters are frigid cold. I was at my friends’ house; his family was all friends with mine, when his mom asked who the extra boy was in some of our family pictures. Davy and I were headed up the stairs when my mom started the answer differently than usual. I stopped Davy, crouched down, motioned for him to do the same and be quiet.
“Well Lorry, umm, you see I haven’t told anyone where he really went except Adam and Adrian. I haven’t even told August yet and Tommy and Robert don’t even remember that they have an older brother named… Kim. ” she started.
I don’t know what shocked me more, the fact that she was telling all this to Sister Cobbler when she hadn’t even told me. Or the fact that she herself, the one who had been the reason for saying “the “K” word”, had said the word Kim.
“He’s a…a…a drug lord.” Mom broke down crying and Sister Cobbler rushed to her side to give her condolences to her good friend.
The words echoed around in my head. He’s a drug lord…a drug lord...drug lord. But Kim couldn’t be. He was my brother. A pain of betrayal shot through my chest. I looked over at Davy and a silent vow passed between us. Neither of us would ever repeat a word of what we heard that day; we would go on like we didn’t know. I wish I didn’t know. Tears brimmed on the edge of my eyes as one word lingered in my head. I quickly whipped them away trying to banish the thought too. Kim.
Letter of intent
Five years later.
“I got a new I-pod and a surround sound stereo for my Birthday,” Jamey bragged.
She had just turned 18. “What do you think you’re getting?” Jamey asked everyone.
“I’m getting a new Jag,” Pauline declared. Answers started flying every where. I kicked the dirt covered road not looking up. It sucked having your birthday at the end of summer. “I wish I was an only child,” I mumbled.
Pauline laughed and threw her hands in the air. “Ah, yes it is good being the only daughter of a rich couple.”
“Yes, it must be terrible having your family.” Jamey said, sarcasm dripping off every word.
I laughed. All my friends had made it clear that they would rather spend Christmas break at my house rather than their own. Then Jamey and Pauline looked at each other and said in unison “Oh, yes and don’t forget about her dearly beloved fiancé….”
“Hey, Guys!” Davy said jogging up next to me, draping his arm over my shoulders causing my cheeks to burn red. He smelled of sweat and glistened like a rainbow. His shirt, soaked, clung to his skin. He was a good head and a half taller than me now, and his flaming red hair stood in disarray, bed-head style.
Jamey and Pauline loved teasing me about Davy. They wanted to hear me admit that I liked Davy. And every time they brought it up I would protest and deny it. But it wasn’t any use they would just laugh and say my blushing was proof. Convincing them was so difficult to do when he did things like this.
Pauline and Jamey looked at me and gave me the “what was that about not liking him?” look and started laughing. I tried to give them the death look, but it didn’t work and they ended up laughing harder.
“Did I miss something?” Davy asked confused.
“No,” I said trying desperately to find a way to cease my friends’ laughter.
“Come on this is our street” I said, pulling and tugging him away from Jamey and Pauline.
“Ahh, wait up August, we didn’t mean it!” Jamey’s cry came from behind us.
“Don’t lie Jamey. We’ll see you later August!” Pauline yelled.
As soon as we were safely in side my house Davy asked, “What was all that about?”
“Umm, nothing.” I lied. He shrugged and slumped down on to the floor and started pulling out his homework.
“Guess we better get started if I want to get home for dinner”
“August, time to eat,” mom called from the kitchen.
“K,” I answered.
“Well, so much for finishing before dinner.” Davy said pushing all the papers he had lying around back into his back pack. Davy and I stood up stretching our sore muscles. Then we headed for the kitchen.
“Hello Sister Frost,” Davy said.
“Oh, hello Davy will you be eating with us?” Mom asked.
“I’d love to, but I’ll have to call my mom to make sure it’s ok,”
“Sure, sure but remember that tonight I made your favorite.”
Davy smiled and went into the other room to where the phone was and soon was arguing with his siblings trying to get the phone to his mom. While Davy did that, I waited in the kitchen to see what I could do to help get dinner on the table. “August will you set these on the table?” mom asked me turning around holding out a pile of plates.
“Sure,” I said taking the plates from her. I pushed through the two white swinging doors into the kitchen. The doors are like the saloon doors in old western movies. Dad must have gotten home because on the end of the table was the mail. Dad always got the mail, took his out, and left the rest on the table. I placed all the plates around the table and went to get the mail.
With the mail in my hands I headed back to the kitchen shuffling through it to see if any of it just happened to be for me. A return address caught my eye, it was from the Caribbean. I gripped it as my pulse began to accelerate. “Mom,” I said entering the kitchen. “It’s from the Caribbean,” I said holding up the letter.
Her eyes got big. I knew she was thinking the same thing as me. It had to be from Kim. My mind was overrun with thoughts. After all these years Kim had found us and was trying to contact us! This is great! Wait this is great, right? Well by the look on mom’s face it wasn’t. In fact it was the exact opposite.
She walked up, took the letter, and stuffed it in her apron pocket. Then she handed Davy and me silverware to put on the table. As I followed Davy into the dining room I watched as my mom took the letter opener, steadied her shaking hands and carefully sliced open the letter.
“What do you think it says!?” I asked excitedly dancing around the table; not really watching where I was placing the silverware.
“Don’t know. You don’t really think it was from, uh, Kim. Do you?” Davy asked as he followed me re-arranging the silverware I’d put down.
“Yes, it has to be!”
“I don’t think your mom’s very happy about it,”
“She wouldn’t be.”
“You mean because… of his business,”
We walked back into the kitchen just in time to see mom slip the letter back into her apron pocket. “What did it say?” I asked mom, trying to get the contents of the letter out of her.
“Nothing” she snapped. “Will you go get everyone for dinner?” she asked, her voice strained.
All through dinner my mind wandered across the table, two chairs down, into my mother’s pocket, past the thick envelope, to the letter and its mysterious message. What could possibly be in there? What did Kim want? Over the next two weeks that mysterious letter occupied most of my thoughts.
“August, snap out of it.” Pauline said snapping her fingers in front of my face. “Goodness what’s your problem? You’ve been so out of it lately.” Pauline said, taking the woman power stance in front of me.
“It’s my family. They’ve been acting really weird.” I said
“Well, the apples don’t fall too far from the tree,” Davy said.
I turned to Davy in surprise “When did you get here?” I asked horrified.
Perhaps I spaced out into my own world longer than I thought. “Well, long enough to learn that eating lunch with these two can be really boring. And I also learned that, that girls’ color of lip gloss doesn’t go with her skin tone,” he said pointing at a girl across the hallway. “And girls want guys who are honest, love them for who they are, have a cute personality, and are very hot.” he concluded.
“Now what has been so important that you left me with these two for la-la-land?” Davy asked jerking his thumbs at both of them. “Sorry, about that guys. I’ve been waiting for some mail that’s really important to me.” I apologized.
I felt bad for twisting the truth. But the reason that my family moved down here was to get a clean slate. That no one knew about our previous life. My only friend that knew about my family’s secret was Davy. And I planned on it staying that way.
“Speaking of important news… It’s Valentines Day!” Jamey practically sang with joy.
“Here,” Davy said, the tops of his ears glowing pink. The card he handed me was as pink as his ears. The heart said “Be my Valentine?” on the front and had white lace trimming the outside edge. “There’s more on the other side,” Davy said his ears about matching the color of his hair.
As I read the letter I felt the heat rise to my cheeks. “I don’t ever want to say good bye. Because I know, if I do I’ll surely die. I’d miss you. I’d think of you. I’d beg you to forgive me and take me back again. So, will you be my Valentine?”
When I finished the letter I didn’t know what to do. If I was right Davy just asked to be my boyfriend. I also had a huge nagging feeling that I was missing something. As I concentrated on trying to see what it was that I was missing, Davy stared at me and Pauline and Jamey stared at us. Suddenly Davy broke the silence by bursting out the question I could tell he’d been trying to keep in, “Well, will you?”
The whole group jumped. I smiled and reached up as high as I could to hug Davy around his neck and said, “Of course!”
As if my face wasn’t scarlet enough, Davy kissed me causing my whole face to light up as red as his hair. Though Davy had missed his intended mark he kissed me on the cheek, which was more than any guy outside my family had done. Jamey and Pauline burst out laughing, clapping their hands. Davy held my hand as we walked to class. I enjoyed the feeling of my hand in his. My hand was small compared to his. His skin was tanner than mine, due to the fact that he spent eleven more summers in the sun than I had. His hands were as soft as new silk, but as strong as any farm-boy whose father was as strict as his; though I don’t know many farmers or dads that even come close. Jamey and Pauline both declared how they had known we’d always end up together. This time I didn’t argue. I smiled, happy that they had been right.
Not everyone comes back from safaris
During the time that passed my bliss went up as I spent more time with Davy. As time wore on Mom got more and more annoyed, though I didn’t care. Summer was a week away and I planned to spend it right where I was, curled up next to Davy. “I’ll be right back,” I said pushing up from the couch. I walked up the stairs towards the bathroom next to my parent’s room.
They were arguing. Well, arguing was putting it lightly. Their door was slightly ajar so I sipped up next to it. It’s not eves dropping, not if you don’t get caught. “He’s coming…,” Mom said, “I want …out…..before the weekend.” Dad started protesting. After that I couldn’t understand much, so I slinked off.
The next couple of days I bit my tongue, listening harder than I ever had before, trying to figure out who this mysterious male was that was coming to visit. But my parents never let anything slip. In fact when they came back down stairs you wouldn’t have guessed that they had just had a heated debate up in their room, a heated debate that would put a raging furnace fire to shame. Their demeanor was cool. It frustrated me to no end that I couldn’t figure out what they weren’t telling me. If they had told anyone else about the contents of that letter, then those people had kept their tongues perfectly quiet about it. It was so infuriating.
The week was nearing its end and if mom had won the battle then someone, or something, would be leaving soon. On Thursday during dinner mom quickly glanced at dad and dad responded with a quick nod. I doubt anyone else saw because they were all so engrossed in the food placed before them. After everyone had finished, dad stood up while mom ran to fetch something. Dad cleared his throat and started into his probably well rehearsed monolog. “August, your mother and I got you an expensive birthday present this year. We know how much you’ve wanted to go on a safari, and since your birthday is so close to when school starts it would be no use giving it to you then. So, here’s your early birthday present.” Mom handed me an envelope and smiled. I smiled and took the envelope.
My gut told me that what was about to happen was going to be bad, very bad. So it’s me that they’re getting rid of. Guess I’m not going to be here when the mysterious visitor arrives. I knew what was in the envelope before I even opened it, but I opened it and pretended to be surprised anyway. “Thanks guys!” I said, removing four plane tickets. Two were to New York and two to Africa. I didn’t know whether to be ecstatic over the tickets or sad and upset that I didn’t get to meet the mysterious visitor.
“You leave tomorrow night,” Mom said. “We’ll check you out of school at noon, to give you a little more time to pack.”
“Sorry honey, but we already told Grandpa that he would go with you. You know parental guardian and all that.” dad said none too apologetic.
I shrugged. I would have liked to have taken my friends but grandpa and I were really close. So it was fine. Grandpa was the closest person to me in my family. When Kim was still here, we would go to Grandpa’s house every afternoon. He was the only one that would openly share and listen to the pain of loss we all felt when Kim left. I didn’t know Grandma because she had died when I was really young. My father’s parents were very distant. They lived in North Carolina and rarely visited.
The next day I went to school dreading the moment when I had to tell all of my friends that I would be gone for probably the whole next month. Oh, I especially didn’t want to tell Davy. I spent the entire first period avoiding Davy. This was going to be unpleasant enough telling Pauline and Jamey, but Davy… oh, I could live a life time and not tell him that I wasn’t going to see him for a month. Soon enough though, the three of them cornered me and I had no choice but to talk. Everything came out in a rush. I told them about the tickets and how my Grandpa was going with me. I waited for the wrath of my friends that I was sure would soon follow.
“You mean I’m not going to see you for a month!” Davy said. A look of betrayal spread across his face.
My heart broke. Oh, woe is me to break the heart of the one I hold dear. “It’s my early birthday present,” I started to explain again but Pauline cut me off.
“That’s right it is. So go have fun. Catch a tiger for me. But what ever you do don’t feel sorry for us.” Pauline said.
“Yeah and don’t worry we’ll make sure Davy here doesn’t go eyeing any girls while you’re gone” as Jamey slapped Davy on the back.
Davy winced. “Really?” I asked.
“Yeah, you won’t have to worry about me seeing other girls while these two are around,” Davy said rubbing the spot where Jamey had hit him, “because if I do I think by the time you get back I’ll be in a full body brace.”
I laughed, “That’s not what I was talking about.”
Davy smiled back, his dimples prominent against his clear skin. “I know,” he laughed.
“Would it really be ok with all of you if I went?” I asked.
“Yeah,” Davy said pulling me into a big bear hug and then he kissed my head.
At three in the afternoon Grandpa Bell and I, along with the rest of my family, were waiting to board the plane when all my friends showed up to say goodbye. After I hugged Jamey and Pauline goodbye for the fourth time the boarding call came for our plane. I went around and hugged my whole family goodbye again. It was like I was leaving for my mission. I turned around and was swept up in the arms, dipped, and kissed. My pulsed raced. It was probably only a few seconds but to me time went into slow-motion.
When I was released I was looking right into the clear blue summer sky eyes of Davy. I was staring at Davy for I don’t how long when Davy smiled, popping me back into the real world. My family was doing everything they could possibly do to publicly embarrass me. “See ya, Davy,” I said as loudly as I could, which was as loud as a whisper.