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Doors of Freedom
Coming home from third grade was always full of exciting thoughts of what I would do when I got home. Whether it would be watching TV, or going to the playground to play with the other kids, my mind was racing. We had a park within walking distance that had a field you could get lost in. It was so massive; it felt like even if you ran forever you would never reach the end. We would start with baseball, eventually switch to football, and end with soccer. All of us grew up in that field. As the bus would come to my stop, I would begin to get up, waiting for that door of freedom to unlock.
I forgot to tell you that I have a brother Andrew, an older brother. Since he is my older brother, he is bigger than me, or at least he was then. He’s one of those brothers who picks on you, and who loves to start trouble and drag you into it somehow. However, he can also be the role-model type brother when he wants to be. I step out of the door of freedom only to step into my brother’s instruction. He was apparently waiting there for me for quite sometime.
“It’s about time,” he said.
“Hey Andrew,” I mumbled.
“How was school?”
“Alright, why do you care?”
“You are my baby brother. I gotta take care of you or mom would kill me” he said in a fake enthusiasm. “Let’s go to the store.”
I didn’t have much choice. My mom would kill him if he didn’t take care of me so I spent a lot of time with him and his friends. I guess the only way he could watch me and hang out with his friends was to drag me along. The thought of my friends seeing me with the older kids didn’t trouble me to much because I knew they were jealous. I have to admit, it was cool to hang out with the middle school kids.
We started on our journey to the corner store; a very short journey. Our family didn’t live far from a little strip of stores up the street. I wouldn’t say we lived in the city, but we were pretty close to everything. There was a laundromat, Jack in the Box, Walgreens, Ice cream place, pawn shop, you name it, and it was there.
“Why are we going to the store? I wanna go home” I whined.
“Mom told me we needed some soda tonight ‘cause were havin pizza” he stuttered.
I didn’t think anything of it at the time. He literally grabbed me off the bus so I still had my backpack on, which I complained about. He always seemed annoyed with me, but as I look back, I see I complained a lot so I would be annoyed, too. I guess I should be happy that I’m the baby of the family, and I don’t have some little kid annoying me all the time. We were almost there; we just had to cross the street. The store was only a half mile walk and only took like 5 minutes. The pedestrian light kicked on, and we resumed on our way. Rush hour traffic hadn’t hit yet, so the parking lot wasn’t full at all. I could smell new asphalt and it appeared like it was redone recently.
We stepped through the automatic doors and immediately my brother took off to the right. He was acting pretty strange.
“Go ahead and look around at stuff. I’ll find you” he said while turning around.
“Okay…” I said blankly.
I quickly became bored and headed towards the toy aisle. My obsession for cap guns had me itching for a new one. I had a whole arsenal at home; a shotgun, a couple pistols, and my favorite, a six-shooter. Just like any other nine-year old kid, even toys I liked couldn’t hold my attention for long. I was soon over at the candy aisle. My brother returned.
“Open your backpack,” he said quickly.
“Shut up, just do it.” He was my older brother, so I listened.
He began throwing stuff in there. A couple of the things I recognized from the toy aisle. Others, I didn’t know what they were. I really didn’t have time to look either. I knew this was wrong, but I couldn’t do anything. We were stealing. My brother had dragged me into trouble. I didn’t like it, but I told him to hurry up because I was scared and didn’t want to get caught. He finished and zipped the bag. We both stood up and acted like nothing had happened. If anyone looked at me, I was probably as red as an apple, I was so nervous. My brother told me to head toward the front door and said he wouldn’t be far behind. I wouldn’t walk out with him. He tried arguing, but he didn’t want to make a scene so he agreed to walk out together. We headed for the door. I could feel each step we took pound from my foot all the way up to my head. I just wanted out. We were 5 feet from the door.
“Excuse me! Son!” a booming voice sounded. I froze and so did my brother. We turned to a heavy-set man in slacks and a white dress shirt. He had a name tag. It said Henry, Store Manager. I knew we were done for. My head sank and eyes shut. “You boys need to come with me.”