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The first thing I did when I walked in the door after school was swing my keys by the lanyard I attached to them onto this little table on the landing with a little china plate on it that my grandfather painted a few years ago that everyone puts their keys on when they come home. Everyday I swing my keys there with the same carelessness, and every day I think to myself, just one little bit harder and that plate is going to break, and that I should be more careful next time.
My front door opens to the landing between a staircase, with half of the staircase on the right going downstairs and half of the stair case on the left going upstairs. I suppose it's odd to have a kitchen and living room on the second floor, but after coming into my house every day and walking up the stairs to the kitchen to get chocolate milk after school, I don't think about it anymore.
Standing on the Landing I can see that my brother is upstairs in the kitchen. He's such a huge person; I think he's something like 6'6'', 250 pounds. If I were downstairs I' be able to hear him moving up there. As I step on the first step going up I can see that he's doing dishes with discontent (what other way is there to do dishes?). He's home from college on thanksgiving break and my mom always leaves him a note with things he's supposed to do before she gets home; I can assume emptying the dishwasher is on the list.
I wish he would have done it earlier so he'd be downstairs wasting away in front of the TV right now and I could drink my chocolate milk in peace. When I step on the third step (I skipped the second) I thought about how things used to be.
It was his junior year in high school, and I was a freshmen. I knew long before my parents did that he was smoking, but I thought it was only cigarettes. It turns out it went from cigarettes to marijuana and from there he started popping pills. It wasn't long before he was an addict, he's stay in his bedroom for days, never coming out- not even to use the bathroom. He's miss school weeks at a time. Sometimes he wouldn't eat for days; other times we couldn't get him to stop eating. I remember what I smelled when I walked past his room trying to pretend he wasn't there, and that I was only child.
My parents knew it was going on, I used to hate them for letting it happen to my brother. Of coarse I didn't realize that they were doing all they could. When they used to fight with my brother, to get him to stop, I wished I was deaf; the sound on my TV didn't go high enough to block it out. I would hear the F-word, glass breaking, loud thumps- I couldn't usually tell who was winning but I always imagined it was my parents. I wanted them to kick him out of the house, make him live on the street, but I didn't understand that my parents couldn't do that to one of their children.
Most of if is behind us now. I forgave my parents when I realized they did the best they could- but I can never forgive him for causing them so much grief, and being so selfish not even to care that he was tearing our family apart.
Anyway, eventually he pulled out of it, I don't know exactly what happened but I think some of his sources ran out and he couldn't get it whatever it was anymore. He never stopped smoking, but he stopped taking pills and smoking pot. Somehow he managed to graduate high school and get into college. This is his sophomore year and it's still awkward between us, we've never spoken to each other about his drug addiction.
When I step into the kitchen I'm faced with a decision- do I take a cup from the cupboard or do I take if from the open dishwasher, making it one less cup he's have to put away. I decide to take it from the dishwasher, only because it's hanging open and to reach up into the cupboard would be an inconvenience.
I try to think of other things then him while I sit in the chair in the corner of the dining room and put my feet up on the table while he's finishing the dishes. He's almost done with them and neither of us has said a word since I came home.
Then I sneezed. I hated to be the first one to make a sound but I couldn't hold it in. He said "Gesundheit" as he put the last dish in the cupboard and went downstairs leaving me to wonder… he was an addict three years ago, but who is he now?