An Unspoken Agreement This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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     This is a tale with a moral. I have to go back four years, to the summer before eighth grade. It is about my brother, and my friends, and who is more important.

My brother, Daniel, and I were never extremely close. He was one of three younger siblings. My two sisters and I always resented how our brother was an angel around our parents and a heathen otherwise. He could cause a huge fight and still have done nothing in our parents’ eyes.

“He’s a worker,” they’d say. “He is the only one who will clean the house without being told.”

This wasn’t true. They didn’t realize the reason they thought he cleaned was because he would scamper in to inform them every time he did anything constructive. They didn’t know I cleaned because I didn’t brag about it. They didn’t realize that it was me who made him clean when they were gone. I didn’t understand how they could be so naive. I hated being around him.

Being with my friends was my solution. I appreciated that my friends’ acknowledged my skills and accomplishments. They realized what happened at home and sympathized with me. They resented the treatment I received from my parents and so they blamed my brother for my parents’ attitude toward me, and took it out on him. They didn’t include him in any of our activities, and I didn’t complain because I cherished my time away from him.

But there was a problem. My parents used their magic powers against me. They installed a conscience within me. Every time I would go out with my friends, they would make me feel guilty.

“Where you going?” they would ask, already knowing the answer.

“To see a movie,” I would reply, trying to leave before they could lay a guilt trip on me.

“Your brother wanted to go. He never gets to go to the movies with his friends.”

“So?” I would snap.

“Never mind, honey, you just go enjoy the movie your brother wanted to see without him. Okay?”

They already knew what they had done. They knew I would break down and invite him. I hated it. He would win again. And my friends would see him coming and drop their heads, seeing I was defeated yet again. I didn’t want him to go, my friends didn’t want him to go, only he and my parents wanted it. They wouldn’t win again.

It was July and I was enjoying every moment of summer. Friday had come and I was excited. The next day would be the premiere of a movie I had long anticipated about a couple of high school students and their summer adventures. My friends and I had made plans to see the very first show.

There was only one problem. My brother wanted to come. My parents would ask if he could. My brother knew that, too. He knew he would go if they made me feel guilty. For some reason, he never asked himself. But it didn’t matter; he knew it would be taken care of. The day of the big premiere, my parents called me into the living room.

I knew what was about to happen. They were going to send me on a guilt trip and manipulate me into allowing Daniel to tag along. I made up my mind before going in the room that I would not feel guilty. I wouldn’t give in. In my mind I would be letting my friends down again. They didn’t want him either.

As I walked in, they had those smiles on their faces, the ones that gave them away.

“What is it?” I asked.

“Are you still going to the movie?” my father asked.

“Yeah, why?”

“Well, your brother really wants to go and you should let him go with you.”

I was about to do it. I was about to do what I never thought I would say to my parents. I breathed in deeply.

“No,” I said sheepishly.

“But-”

“Daniel always comes with us and I hate it,” I said, cutting him off. “Why doesn’t he have his own friends? I am so sick of this. Please don’t do this, don’t make me feel guilty. Don’t make me resent my brother.”

I hadn’t realized it, but Daniel was standing at the doorway listening. My parents looked at me with blank expressions. They couldn’t believe I had told them no.

“Okay,” my mother said.

I walked out, shocked that they didn’t pursue the issue. As I did, I looked in my brother’s eyes and saw hurt. I saw him hurting. This time it wasn’t my parents who made me feel bad, it was Daniel. I went to my bedroom and sat, just thinking about what I had done. I wondered how he felt.

My thoughts were interrupted by a knock. It was Josh, my best friend.

“You ready?” he asked.

I walked outside and got in his car, where my friends congratulated me on my “victory,” but it didn’t feel like one. I didn’t feel like I had done the right thing. As we pulled out of the driveway, I looked back and saw my brother staring out the window, wishing he were going. I had to turn my head. I couldn’t see him like that. I knew I was responsible.

I couldn’t concentrate at the movie. All I could do was think about Daniel sitting at home wondering what the movie was like, wanting to be involved.

“What’s wrong?” Josh asked, noticing I was distracted.

“Nothing,” I replied.

“No, really, what’s wrong?”

“I said nothing,” I screamed.

Everyone looked at me. I shrank down into my seat and Josh went back to watching the movie. Was it worth it? Were my friends worth doing this to my brother? I wasn’t so sure anymore. I wasn’t sure I disliked my brother that much. I wasn’t even sure that he got on my nerves when we took him places as much as it was my friends who

didn’t like it and pressured me.

I didn’t utter a word on the way home. When we arrived, I got out without saying anything and went inside. Everyone was in bed so I brushed my teeth and went into the room I shared with Daniel. I thought he was asleep. I lay in bed, wide awake, unable to sleep. All I could think about was what I had done to my brother.

My thoughts were interrupted by a quiet sound. At first I couldn’t figure out what it was, but then I could tell it was sniffling. Daniel was lying in bed crying, and I was responsible. This wasn’t something I wanted to be responsible for. It was then that I decided it really wasn’t worth it. I wouldn’t hurt my brother like that again. He was more important than my friends. If they wanted to be my friends, they would have to be okay with my own flesh and blood.

I got up, walked over and turned on the light. My brother shut his eyes.

“Daniel, I’m sorry. I’m sorry I haven’t treated you like I should have. I’m sorry I have been a horrible big brother.”

He didn’t say anything. He just lay there. I walked over and put my hand on his shoulder.

“I’m sorry, too,” he said.

And that was that. He didn’t say anything else. We had an unspoken agreement. We wouldn’t just be brothers anymore. We would treat each other with respect. Things would change and I never again would have to make my brother feel as though I didn’t love him. That night I made a new friend - a new best friend.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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