We are playing cards in your room that is right up the stairs and to the left. You with your short brown hair and I with my long dark locks sit criss cross applesauce on the antique bed. The red and green checkered comforter feels soft beneath us as you amuse me by incorrectly shuffling the colorful cards. Suddenly, the worn out and well loved Uno cards fly through the air, and I begin squealing and giggling in delight as I rush to collect them before they fall. However, I could not snatch the cards out of midair, so you tell me to pick them up off the floor.
At the time, I did not realize the significance of these cards. The simple Uno game flying through the air onto the beige carpet of your room would eventually illustrate the effect you have had on my life. Just like the cards, my life would tumble down and land in a scattered pile on the floor because of your actions. History would continue to repeat itself over and over again, and each and every time I would proceed to pick up the fallen pieces of my life even though you always created the problems.
Mom always tells me the stories of how you and she went to the mall together back when your hair was shorter. She says you always chose to spend time with her instead of dad when given the choice, but back then you were kind, sweet, and innocent. She has countless memories of the days when you were good but mine are few and far between. She recalls the changes began when you decided to grow out your hair, and this one seemingly harmless decision caused chaos to ensue in all of our lives.
When someone makes a poor decision, everyone in his or her life endures the repercussions of the choice.
You chose to take the first sip of alcohol that lead to countless other firsts: first time sneaking out, first time drunk, first drag of a cigarette, first pill, first angry outburst, first black out, first arrest. How did you expect me to feel at eight years old? You scared me especially when you made daddy cry and mommy curse. The decisions caused my life to spiral out of control just like the cards we used to play. I felt like a stranger in my own house because of the way I had to sneak down the halls being as quiet as a mouse terrified of causing fit of rage. I always hated those angry outbursts especially because I never knew when another one would occur. Anything could trigger one such as people being too loud or someone telling you what to do; however, the one constant variable was the alcohol. You continued to be reckless for years acting without any consideration for those around you.
I still reminisce on the memory of us playing cards because even if just for a moment I can have peace. But soon enough I am thrown back into reality when just seeing you still at home at twenty-seven years old reminds me of the mess you made. One wrong choice, just one wrong move, caused our cards to go flying out of control. You refused to pick them up though, and just like when I was little I picked them up for us. This is how the cycle has always been: You make the mess, and I clean up behind you.
You no longer occupy the space up the stairs and to the left, but rather you find rest in the family room. The yelling no longer occurs as often and the drinking has gotten better; however, I still always feel the threat lurking in the darkness. What if you begin to make the wrong choices again? Where will that leave me? I do have to thank you for showing me what I am not, will not, and cannot be. I am considerate, and my choices will be well thought out. I will never make others responsible for the mess I create.
I will pick up my own cards.