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Life Goes On

Pulling out of the driveway in the passenger seat of my brother’s Mazda MX6, I didn’t want to think about what would happen in the next few days. We followed our parents onto the familiar road on which the four of us had lived for the past fifteen years. When we returned, it would just be the three of us. My brother Nick and I talked like we always had, avoiding the topic that had been on our minds for the last three months- a topic that hung in the air between us like a bad smell. We were choosing to live in the here and now, and right here and right now, we were together. And that’s all that mattered.

We had been driving for about 90 minutes when my brother started noticing the temperature gauge higher than normal.

“Oh, what’s that smell,” I exclaimed, covering my nose with my shirt as the acrid stench of burning anti-freeze filled my nose.

“That’s my car,” Nick answered through gritted teeth. He pulled over and a cloud of evaporating anti-freeze radiated from the hood of the car.

Just ahead of us, I saw Mom and Dad pull over as well and back up on the shoulder of Highway 36. Getting out of the car, I did my best to avoid the fading cloud above the hood.

After a few minutes of trying to decide what went wrong and what we were going to have to do, Dad ran up a hill to find enough cell phone reception to call AAA while Nick and I transferred items from his car to our Tahoe. Mom neatly stacked everything into the back while constantly reminding us to stay out of the road as if we were five year olds.

By the time we had gotten my brother’s car towed to a nearby Walmart parking lot, we were about an hour behind schedule. We piled ourselves into our SUV anyway, hoping to arrive in Rolla before dark. The drive went by slowly. My brother and I weren’t having near as much fun with our parents nearby. Three long hours later, we arrived at our hotel, drowsy and hoping for a good night of sleep.

Bright and early Saturday morning, we were driving the few miles from our hotel to the college. After Nick checked in, we headed to his dorm room. Mom and Dad decided to attend a parents’ meeting, leaving me with my brother. I helped him unpack and hang up his clothes, rolling my eyes and laughing at him when he ran out of hangers. There was something special about the moment. It was probably the last time we would be alone together for a long time.

Sunday morning, Mom decided we needed to take Nick to Walmart. The list of items he had forgotten seemed to be growing exponentially. Dad accused her of just wanting to spend more time with him. She denied it, but we all knew the truth- we felt the same way.

“Which one of these is softer?” Nick asked, shoving two hand towels at me.

“They feel the same,” I concluded.

“Then I’m getting the striped one,” he said, throwing the solid maroon towel back and grabbing a second green, blue, and yellow striped one.

“That’s obnoxious,” my dad observed as Nick threw the towels into the cart. Mom simply rolled her eyes while trying to figure out which package of toilet paper was cheaper.

Back at Nick’s dorm room, we took as long as we could to put everything away. As my brother and I walked by each other, we would high-five as hard as we could, making our hands sting. Finally, we knew we had to face the truth.

“Well, goodbye,” my dad said, knowing someone had to be the first to say it.

I looked at my mom, whose eyes sparkled like diamonds as the first trace of tears came. I bit my lip as I heard my heart beating in my chest. It was all a bad dream. The silence said everything we didn’t as I curled myself up on my brother’s new bed.

Seeing my mom start to cry made me cry. The taste of saline filled my mouth as tears ran down my cheeks. It was finally becoming reality. It wasn’t just a distant nightmare anymore; we were leaving. I was going to have to finish high school without my brother. I was going to have to learn to live without him. I was going to have to grow up.

“Bye,” I told Nick, wrapping my arms around him. I was still trying- and failing- to blink back my tears. I gave him one last hug as we left his dorm room.

Walking out to the car, I could still feel the sting on my hand from our repetitive high-fives. I chose not to talk as I took my spot in the back seat, not ready for the four-and-a-half hour drive home, to a home that wouldn’t quite feel the same again. I turned on my ipod and put my sunglasses on my face, hoping that maybe my parents wouldn’t notice that I was still crying.




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