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The World Around Us

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I didn’t like having him around. Sleeping all day with one or two breaks for food and bathroom breaks. He definitely caused a lot of stress on the rest of the family, but I still loved my oldest brother.

My brother Max has always been a bit sideways. He has always been a troublemaker, But most of all he has always been there for me.
Max is the oldest of the three brothers. Weston is next at three years younger than him, and then me five years younger than Weston and eight years younger than Max. That was also the chain of command, so by that logic the only person I could boss around was Maica, but she didn’t listen very well.

Max had just graduated high school. He was anxious about leaving the house and going on to college at Saint John’s in New Mexico. When we drove out to the collage Max seemed to like it. The college had a cozy warm feeling on the inside, Santa Fe itself was a great town, full of tourist traps and gift shops.
Before he left, Max seemed thrilled about leaving. Always talking about it and looking forward to it. During that time I could have never guessed what would happen.

One night, about two weeks into him leaving, a LOUD phone call shook the entire house. My heart skipped a beat and the dreams that misted my head disappeared faster than an anvil dropped from an airplane. I didn’t think about it much the next morning. I saw Max sleeping in my old room. I was extremely excited about his visit, but I didn’t want to disturb him. As I waddled down to the kitchen to consume my morning breakfast, I head my parents talking in the living room.

“Look honey, he woke me up at four in the morning to pick him up at some place three hours away.”

“So what? He needs the extra support right now.”

“Fine, but I hope we don’t have to pay the first year's tuition. Lets have breakfast before any more talk about that,” said my dad optimistically.

So Max isn’t home for a visit, I thought to myself, then why is he home then? I was going to definitely talk to mom and dad about that.
After a hearty breakfast of dry cereal, I decided to talk to my parents about Max. I didn’t want to impose on my parents, but I was curious.

“Mom, why is Max in my old room? And why is he back so soon” I asked my mother.

“Dad had to pick him up in the middle of the night because he wasn’t feeling well, so he will be staying with us for a while.” I was happy to see my older brother, but I wasn’t thrilled about it.

“Could you take Max some coffee?” my mother asked me, in a sweet voice.

“Sure,” I replied, not thinking much of the task. She handed me a black cup with a red checkered interior. The coffee inside steamed up into my face, creating a lovely aroma. I started up the stairs. The coffee swirled and swished in the cup, so I had to slow my movement in order stop the burning hot liquid from splashing onto my hands and the new carpet. I turned and headed down the second floor hallway to Max’s new room.

The door seemed darker than I remembered. The darkness seemed to pour from the door like tar, oozing slowly, but moving all the less. I took a few steps forward, still eyeing the wobbly cup of coffee. I reached for the brass doorknob; I found it and twisted.

The door swung open with a low pitched creak. The room was dark, as dark as I’ve ever seen it. The blinds were drawn as low as possible. Pillows were scattered around the floor, blocking any hint of light through the door crack. Sprawled across the folded down futon was a disorganized pile of blankets. One bare foot was sticking out of the pile as if it was banished.

“Max? I brought coffee,” I said quietly. “Max, Mom made breakfast.” I stopped talking to wait for an answer that wouldn't come. I thought it was a good idea to poke the unmoving sheet pile. I reached out with one finger and prodded the pile. Movement broke out across the sheets, and a grone emerged from the mouth of my brother.

“Max, its time to get up, and I brought coffee.”

“Go away ,Tom,” gurgled my oldest brother in a groggy yet stern voice.

“Come on, man,” I voiced. “I thought you liked pancakes.”

“Leave the coffee, and go away.” I did what he said, placed the coffee on a small table at the edge of the bed. I then walked out of the dark room.

That day I walked out of that room, but my brother still sat there. He didn’t leave that dark room for two years. Despite the long time he spent in the dark, he eventually came stumbling out only to find himself two thousand miles away, blinded by the light, in Winchester, Virginia. I hope he never goes back in that dark room by himself again.



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