Away Until Further Notice

By
And then the car full of a happy family drove into the sunset to their new lives.

AS

IF!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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Our family was a simple one, a mom, a 15 year old son, and a 13 year old daughter. No dad. We were such a typical American family you could practically look us up in the dictionary, well, except for the dad thing. See, he died when I was 2 of lung cancer. No he didn’t smoke. I was 13, Nathan was 15. My mom was an author who baked cookies and embroidered kittens. My brother, Nathan, was athletic and popular, but never talked to his family. Brianna (me!) was a straight “A” student interested in drama. I, like every lee was talented. I could bake, sculpt, and fix hair and makeup. I also had incredible balance. Mentally and physically. I could easily think up an essay while doing math homework, I could walk on a maze of coals while balancing 5 books on my head. I was tall, about 5’ 6” and my hair was a brown/auburn/red and was about shoulder length, something I got from my father, unlike my mom and brothers which was brown as chocolate. We all have brown eyes. I had gotten something else from my father was the shape of my eyes, big, wide, and curios. In my spare time I was always reading or on the computer, always in need of companionship, weather real, virtual, or written on the pages of a book. We always believed nothing could happen to us in little old Lake Orion. We were living the stereotypical standards of American living.

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Ah. What a night. Tonight, a few days after Thanksgiving, we went shopping. We were in our black Pacifica. Mom in the front at the wheel, Nathan in the middle with his new jacket, and me in the bench seat in the back with his old one (on backwards for extra comfort). We looked totally different. He was in his singing position. Sitting up straight and I was lying across the three seats, half-asleep with the hood of the jacket cast over my eyes. We sang to Christmas carols on the radio, we ate Flamin’ Hot Cheetos © (food of the gods I tell you) and drank Hot Chocolate Jones Soda©. It was a perfect night. On top of all that, Nathan talked to us! He told me about his classes, his loco (singing and dancing group) rehearsal, and he told me about his girlfriend! He NEVER EVER EVER tells us about his girlfriend unless absolutely necessary. It’s probably because there have been rumors that he’s gay, because, you know, the dancing thing. But that night is over and now I’m in the silver sterile dentist office having a filling.

“Hello? Hi, mmm-hmm, that is fine, ok, see you soon. Bye,” my mom said into her sleek silver Verizon phone. “There was a bomb threat at the school so the concert was moved to Oakview (my school).”

“Ohh hay,” I said. I was trying to say ‘ok’ but hello! my mouth was being drilled!

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“So that’s when I found out I needed a root canal,” I informed my friend Molly ‘Briiiiiiiiiiiing. Briiiiiiiiiiiiiiiing.’ The electronic shriek of the phone went off.

“Mrs. Thompson, ok, sure, thanks, bye,” our teacher placed the phone back into its cradle. “Brianna, you’re needed in Mrs. Pritchard’s office”

“Um, ok,” I replied. I couldn’t help but feel a little uneasy, the only people I knew who went to The Pritches office had behavioral issues or serious emotional problems. The only time I or one of my friends had been there was for a schedule change.

After I signed in, I walked into her greenish office, sat down on the not-so-comfy chairs, picked up a stress ball off the table among other office-y things (paper clips, pencils, pictures), and squeezed. Now, most people would have bought that fake ‘everything is fine and dandy, your only here because of some mix-up’ smile, but I knew better, I am an actress, I can see right through anyone who is acting because I recognize the signs. The one here was that a smile like that that was uncommon on a dreary wet, rainy Monday, and that she kept picking stuff up then putting it back down meant something was wrong. Badly, life-changing wrong.

“Brianna, good to see you again,” she finally spoke “I am sorry to be the bearer of such bad news,” she told me after ditching the smile. “You may want to sit down. Your brother, Nathaniel,” that shows how much she knew us, no one called Nathan Nathaniel after he told them not to, “He was in a rather tragic accident.”

“How tragic?” I asked in a demanding, worried voice.

“He was killed, at school, in the bathroom, by a homemade bomb. He was pronounced dead within minutes of the explosion.”
“Ok,” I said to the counselor. I got up, walked out of her office, got out of the main office, and trudged back to American History.
I was in shock. I felt like I had been slapped by my best friend, confused, sad, slightly numb, and thinking it wasn’t possible. It wasn’t. It couldn’t be. It as a mistake. I kicked myself for not having my cell phone to call him and tell him the joke. That’s it, they were playing a joke on me and any minute Ashton Kutcher will jump out telling me I got punk’d

I stopped at my locker on the way back and pulled out my cell phone and speed-dialed his number. It rang. And rang. And rang. Until finally someone answered and told me again, that the original owner of this phone had passed away. I turned off my phone and trudged down the hallway back to class.

“So what did Mrs. Pritchard want?” Molly asked

“My brother was killed by a home made bomb at the high school”

She pulled me into a hug as I burst into tears.
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I spent the next week doing nothing at all. Most of the time I sat there listening to people tell me ‘Its ok’, ‘we all miss him’ and ‘well get through this together’. I simply sat there; numb, nodding like a dog on a dashboard.

Me and my mom let everyone do what they wanted, which was cook the food we didn’t eat, do the jobs we were doing anyway, and clean the house that never got messy because me and my mom simply sat in our rooms when we got home. There was one thing we didn’t want anything to do with arranging. The viewing, funeral, and burial of my bother, Nathaniel Steven Lee.

The strange thing was, I didn’t care that my brother was dead. Sure I had cried, but I had cried like you would if your best friend moved away, sad ,I-wont-see-you-for-a –while-but-you’ll-write-me-every-week, tears. To me, he wasn’t dead, he was simply away until further notice. I used this as a way to slack off because, hey, how could I possibly remember the Pythagorean Theorem or what tactics the Americans used in the Revolutionary war when I’m so rapt in grief
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Well, now it’s the big day. That’s right, funeral day, the viewing was easy, sit there in a hard, uncomfortable white chair while people come up and preach about what a good son he was, how he was so smart, cute, and funny. ‘You people think I didn’t know that? Hello! I’ve lived with him for 13 years!’

They decided to have it at the high school since we didn’t belong to a church. It was in the auditorium. The walls were a pinkish salmon-y color that’s hard to describe. The carpet was the same multicolored pattern as the schools. On the stage the grey things that opened like windows were all closed and there was a big wooden casket on a stand surrounded by tons of flowers, but there were also pictures, clothes, notes, his guitar and other things and to the right there was an oak podium with a microphone.

Anyway, I walked up the pinkish stairs after being announced to the hardwood floor of the stage, to the light wood podium with a snake-like microphone sticking out. The microphone seemed to be saying “come on Brianna, tell me your story, ill make sure you mess up good and hard.” Not a chance. I stood there, in my dark purple button down and black velvet skirt, normally used for band concerts, and I blanked. This was really strange; I hadn’t had stage fright since 3rd or 4th grade. I had spent my class time memorizing this speech. I could recite it with my hands tied (well, anyone could, you don’t need hands to talk, but you get my point). But for some reason, my mind simply wasn’t working. The next second, it hit me, no not the speech, well actually yes the speech, but also every single thing that I had ever said and done to my brother. I remembered watching Pokemon, playing “Gauntlet” on the PS2, things we had done many many many times along with other thing that weren’t very significant. Like one time when we were down at the creek by my grandma’s house, and the time when we almost lit the house on fire when we were making s’mores. I also realized it, Nathan was dead, gone. Well actually, his body was a few feet away from me, but he would never be back and I never got a chance to say goodbye.

Well, I figured I might as well wing the speech now (I was thankful for all the improvisational classes I had taken) and this came out of my mouth: “Hello friends, family, and other people I have never met. The past 5 people have told you about my brother’s life. Why don’t I tell you about his death, yeah you all know HOW he died, he went to the bathroom and a homemade bomb went off and killed him, I’m talking about how it has affected me. At first, I cried, and cried, and cried, and cried, then I didn’t really care, I sort of thought he wasn’t gone, he was away until further notice. Then, it sunk in, but only a little, I realized I would never see him again, but not that he was dead, I still thought he was alive, After that, I made myself numb, I didn’t let anything in and anything out, I was practically a vegetable, but I was moving.

But then, right here on this stage and before your very eyes, it hit me. He’s gone, and he won’t ever be back. I guess you could say he is still “away till further notice” except there will be no further notice. I don’t want ANY of that “he’s still here in our hearts” because that’s bologna, yes, he will be in our hearts, but he’s not HERE as in living, breathing, moving, singing, dancing. But he did leave us a little something.” I pull a piece of lined writing paper our of my pocket and unfold it carefully and read it aloud
“If I Died
By Nathan Lee
3rd hour

Dear Everyone,


If you are sad, SNAP OUT OF IT!!!!! I don’t want anyone sad any longer than a month for more than 10 seconds. Alright? Take a lesson from me, you never know when you will die, so live today, tomorrow, and the rest of your life as if it were your last. It might be. I’m not telling you to fear life, but to enjoy it. If not for yourself than for me. I want to see each and every one of you succeed in life. And lastly

This is when he got up and walked into the boy’s bathroom. Even though I never got to say goodbye to him, he said goodbye to us, even if he thought it was only an assignment. And I will learn from this, I will live my life. I hope you all do too”
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My real brother is 15 and planning a career as a musician. He is one of my very best friends. I also have a sister who is 19 and a father. I based this story on the death of a friend of mine. Tim.





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