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The Laugher Gets His Rainbow
Sometimes avoiding your feelings about something is easier than expressing them. It seems like no matter how sunny it is outside, there can always be a rainstorm expected the next day. I was still waiting for my rainbow. So there I sat, splashing drab grey paint on my blank canvas. I knew that everything would be different now that Nick died.
It was early in the morning and I could see a thin slit of light shining beneath my locked door. The chirping birds of Minnesota were mocking my misery. How could the world move on when Nick’s world had stopped so suddenly? I awakened from my daze and looked back at my hopeless masterpiece. Maybe this one will be good enough for an A. I swirled the finishing touches and left it to dry while I got ready for yet another grueling day at school.
I hated going to school. Everyone felt like they had to say something, just to make themselves feel better. I kept count. So far I have received five “How are you doing”, seven “Things will get better”, and my personal favorite, a whopping eleven “I know how you feel”. Anyway, I pulled on a pair of sweat pants that have seen some better days and grabbed my mediocre masterpiece. The bus awaited.
I always felt better in math class. I was in a senior class so no one knew my name, let alone Nick’s story. I was good at math. I loved that every problem had an answer, no matter how difficult to solve. I only wish life was that simple.
Art class was a horse of another color. My teacher was my next door neighbor. She lived so close that she could hear my snores if I ever slept. She also didn’t except mediocrity in class. She pushed every student to put a piece of themselves into every painting they created, but I just wasn’t ready to tell my story. That was reflected in my substandard grade. I was dependent on this class to obtain a scholarship to Westerly, an elite art college. My family had a hard enough time making ends meet at home.
Actually, it wasn’t even a home anymore without Nick. We were all so close. He was my twin; we almost didn’t have a choice. He was the comedian of the Masters clan. He found a way to laugh at anything. He got the highest marks in school and everyone knew his name. If anyone was in a fight, Nick played the mediator’s role. I couldn’t even hold a candle up to my brother. We were all devastated about the accident. My parents couldn’t even get out of bed in the morning anymore.
I hadn’t even realized that I had commenced crying. I excused myself from class and hide for cover in the bathroom. My silent tears progressed to sobs. I kept reliving the scene. Nick and I went on a road trip to California because he had just gotten his driver’s license. I remembered how excited we both were to get out of the house, our first taste of how it felt to grow up. We chose California as our destination because his favorite band was on tour there. But we never got that far. We ran into a drunk driver on the express way who mistook my brother for an enemy. The police later confirmed that the driver thought Nick was an unfair drug dealer. The police attempted to console us by labeling the situation as “an unfortunate misunderstanding”. Anyway, the drunk driver pulled up next to our car and started yelling at Nick, his words slurred. Nick rolled up his windows and switched into a farther lane, but this guy was quick. He pulled up in front of us next and swerved whenever we tried to switch lanes. He tried to make us rear end him by constantly stopping. I kept yelling at Nick to pull over, but he was so scared and just yelled back at me that I was an idiot and he would kill us if we pulled over. Nick had totally snapped. He kept telling me that Mom and Dad agreed I had no common sense and that I was too immature. I screamed back at him saying that he could never take anything seriously, and that he was constantly joking. The next thing he told me killed me inside: why couldn’t I be more like Nick, my parents wished. He had never yelled at me before or even talked me down like this. My jaw was clamped shut and I couldn’t speak. Nor could I scream, and the drunk driver’s car and ours came together as one. This was a whole new meaning to the phrase road kill. The air bags deployed and I looked over at Nick who lay motionless. He was really gone. We had ended our close bond in a fight.
My sobs subsided and my tear ducts were cried out. I wipe my face on my sleeve and headed back to art class. As I peeled open the heavy bathroom door, I ran into my art teacher.
“I was worried about you, and I wanted to talk about your latest painting.” Red flag, I knew it wasn’t good enough. Man, I redid that garbage three times already. “This one is finally what I was looking for. You didn’t hide behind the wrong colors. What was your inspiration on it?”
Mrs. McCall awaited some profound answer, but I didn’t have one. Writers write what they know, so I guess painters paint what they know. But what happens when everything you know is lost. Did you know he never told me he loved me? He was too cool for that. I know he did, but that’s beside the point. I should probably be mad he yelled at me, but if you knew him you would know that no one can stay mad at Nick for more than two minutes. I still wish though that he could have told me that he loved me at least once before his young life was extinguished.
A week later, Mrs. McCall put my painting on display in her class gallery she hosted every semester. She chose mine as a feature piece. My parents were too sad to leave the house, but I understood. I looked up at my picture and smiled. I understood a lot of things now. Framed in a myriad of grey lines and curves, I painted the outline of my brother, laughing at life like he always had. He was holding my hand and everything seemed alright. It was raining, but I folded a faint rainbow onto the melancholy sky. At least this way, I thought, he’ll be remembered.