The Picture in My Wallet This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

October 17, 2013
By , Ottawa Lake, MI
A tiny voice asks, “Jacob, what's for lunch?”

My little brother, Cody, is hungry.

“Go pick something out, bud. I'll fix it for you in a minute.” I say, disgruntled that he has just woken me up from my nap.

He gathers the peanut butter, grape jelly, and a bag of Sun Chips, just like every day. While I prepare his food, he asks me if we can go for a bike ride. I tell him maybe later; it's supposed to storm today.

I watch him eat as I wait for the leftover pizza to heat up. He gives me a glare because he hates it when I do that. He opens his chips, and I remember to get him a juice box. I grab one from the fridge and open it because it's too hard for him.

The microwave beeps, alerting me that my food is ready. I grab the plate and sit on the couch next to him and watch some kid's show while we eat.

Cody has been in my life for eight years now. He's the only sibling I have left at home, so I try to be the best role model I can. I try to teach him to stay away from the evils of the world, like strangers and the selfishness of others. He's too young to understand though.

My brother and I have been through a lot together. He has a different father, but I barely think about that. It doesn't make a difference. When our mom and Cody's dad divorced three years ago, I had to be strong for him and to show him that things would be okay.

I have to be the best person I can for him. I have to teach him right from wrong. I have to watch him a lot while our mom and her fiancé work. During the day, he tends to stay in his room, and I in mine. But we always have breakfast and lunch together. Some days we go for walks or bike rides around the neighborhood.

He asks me sometimes why I don't have a dad. I struggle to explain that my dad walked out on me and took my other siblings with him. He asked me one time what it was like for me when I was a kid with my other brother and sister. I tried to tell him stories about how we were always together, as difficult as they are to remember. I don't think he understands. I'm the only sibling he has, and with the joint custody that his dad and our mom have, half of the time he's growing up without me.

My brother is my responsibility and it's my job to be there for him. I want to protect him whether from neighborhood bullies, troubles in school, or just a small spider. I can't imagine living without Cody. He has become a big part of my life, and I carry a picture of him in my wallet so I see him almost every day. I love him.

When we finish our lunch we go for that bike ride.

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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