More Than That This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

Autistic. That's how they labeled him. Not everyone got it, I don't think, why he wouldn't look at them when they spoke to him. Why he wouldn't say “hi.” Rude. Unfriendly. Weird. Yes, that was my brother. His expressions were a mystery, a blank page.

A musician. He could stay up 'til all hours of the night and into the day playing his red electric guitar. When he walked around the house, when we sat down to dinner, he wore the guitar strap as if it were part of him. He clung tightly to this lifeline. There must have been a spark that went off in his brain repeatedly, as if he were a computer calculating formulas. And whenever that spark went off, it would ignite like the Fourth of July.

He would let all his emotions vent into the strings, sounding perfect the first time without fail. But that wasn't good enough for him. His fingers would quarrel with the guitar and bicker with one another, adjusting over and over, tasting the sounds they could make until they came to a compromise – a satisfying sound he was pleased with.

He would preach the strangest things, things that at first I wouldn't understand. Like he was speaking an alien language, he would explain these thoughts to me, and I would feel enlightened by his views. One night as we sat up together in the dimly lit living room, he told me, “Everyone has felt sadness. You won't always agree with why someone feels sad, but if you can at least understand what it's like to feel sad, you can begin to understand that person and their situation.” This was the task my brother assigned me.

My brother is the brown-haired one sitting with the guitar in his Seattle apartment. He needs a haircut. He thinks about me, I know, because he sends me music to listen to. He texts me about Top Pot donuts because he knows they're my favorite. My brother is the successful one, the man who overcame so much bullying and hardship. He is the one who keeps his stories to himself, but not his opinions. He is a composer, a musician, a mentor, a friend, a fighter, a brother, a son.

They labeled him as autistic. But he is so much more than that.

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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bethroselove said...
Dec. 21, 2012 at 1:23 am
Thanks so much for writing this! I have Asperger's and I can relate. Thank you! :)
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