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Saving Robert This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

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Some deaths are never recorded, but Robert’s was not one of those. People can say a thousand things about him but no one can really describe him the way I can. He was my best friend and brother. The age difference seemed to have dissolved between us, a link missing in our genes made that difference. He was mute, born this way as the nurses and doctors gasped when they heard no shrill piercing cry. He was so small as I looked at him from his cradle, stepping on a cardboard box to alternate my four year old height. He was precious, and beautiful, smiling as he held my finger with his entire hand. We were inseparable, bonds deeper than blood and stronger than gravity. I loved my brother with all my being.
Robert shared his life with me as I did with mine. We spoke in sign language and giggled at times knowing that our connection was better than words. The days leading up to his death were our happiest. I regret not seeing it coming. That morning I woke up, my pillow drenched in sweat, trying to shake off my nightmare. I walked slowly through the house to the bathroom Robert and I shared on the second floor. My mother yelled at me from the kitchen to pick up my feet when I walked, not dragging them behind like wet puppies. I rolled my eyes and locked myself in the bathroom. The reflection in the mirror was scarcely myself. A wide-eyed teen staring at me in a tired stupor. Yesterday was my eighteenth birthday and what a day that was. I had spent it in Cancun with my family and got my car. Everything leading up to that moment was perfect.
I felt my hair and decided to take a bath. I took a short trip back to my room, picking up the clothes I decided to wear that day. I hurried back to the bathroom and made my way to the tub, wondering why the curtain was drawn in front of the tub and not pulled back to the side as it usually was. My heart wrenched at what I saw the moment I pulled back the curtain.
I couldn’t feel my body nor the scream that erupted from my throat. The pearly white tub was filled to the top with crimson water, thick yet transparent. Robert’s arms were draped over the side of the tub, dripping blood onto the floor. His skin was pale and frozen in time. I stared into his face, marble white and beautiful with golden wavy hair and freckles splashed on his cheeks. My eyes found his eyes, the cold dark grey, the same as mine. I claimed him in my heart knowing that he would never be able to claim mine again. My lips found his forehead, hoping a kiss would wake him up, and this whole thing be just a terrible joke. I wanted to follow him so badly. I clung to his bare body trying to fuse mine with his.
My mother busted in through the door, leaving me in a daze since I had locked the door previously. She pushed me aside and held his being in her arms. She cried onto his wet body as she held his corpse on the bathroom floor. Dad wouldn’t be home for another few hours from his night shift. I left home heartbroken and shot. I could see it even in my head, my mother holding his head to hers and trying to rub away the blood that sprang from his wrists. I couldn’t bear it as these pictures came to my head, trying to imagine how my mother must be feeling, holding her youngest in her arms while she gets to live on with this one memory to call on.

The crying. The sobs. The bloodshot eyes. The moment finally came, the one I rehearsed so many times in front of my mirror. People stared at me as I walked down the church aisle, paper in my hands with my speech at Robert’s funeral. I soon realized that this was easier said than done. My mother looked so tired. She was only a sliver of what she was before. Her long sandy hair, always hanging loose with spring curls now was piled on top of her head, and her eyes were sad, her meals seemed to reflect her feelings as dad and I resorted to frozen TV dinners. My dad was a mess, trying to deal with his son’s death took an emotional blow on his mentality. He was already stressed, trying to dig out his company from reaching bankruptcy. I didn’t want to think of all the things that were befalling my once happy family. And that’s how it happened. How I ended up looking like a moron in the funeral. I couldn’t talk, I couldn’t connect with the congregation. They looked at me puzzled and confused as I slowly retreated from the podium and ran outside. I passed the awestruck glares of the people as I ran out to the lobby and into the summer sun.
This was my salvation. If I said the final words of my speech, I feared losing him forever to that memory. I couldn’t lose him, we were partners in crime, we were best friends to the end, I couldn’t abandon him. I can’t say goodbye. I knew that our family would now be the subject of gossip and conversation, I could hear the whispers invading my head as I thought about it. “Did you hear Sandra’s boy committed suicide?” “Did you hear he was into drugs?” “They must have serious problems in their family for that kid to resort to that…” “We should keep an eye on his sister, we can’t let her follow in the steps of her brother.” It stung me like a bee to even imagine the gossip that would destroy my brother’s name.
And that’s how my life began. I was reborn as I sat on the concrete steps leading to the ornate doors of the gloomy cathedral. I made a promise to Robert, looking at him in my memories. I would find out why he did it, and redeem his soul so we could meet again, maybe. He was mine, and I was his. There was no way I would let him wonder alone and lost.
Robert.
I love you.
Don’t worry, I’ll save you.





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