All Nonfiction Bullying Books Academic Author Interviews Celebrity interviews College Articles College Essays Educator of the Year Heroes Interviews Memoir Personal Experience Sports Travel & CultureAll Opinions Bullying Current Events / Politics Discrimination Drugs / Alcohol / Smoking Entertainment / Celebrities Environment Love / Relationships Movies / Music / TV Pop Culture / Trends School / College Social Issues / Civics Spirituality / Religion Sports / Hobbies
- Summer Guide
- College Guide
- Author Interviews
- Celebrity interviews
- College Articles
- College Essays
- Educator of the Year
- Personal Experience
- Travel & Culture
- Current Events / Politics
- Drugs / Alcohol / Smoking
- Entertainment / Celebrities
- Love / Relationships
- Movies / Music / TV
- Pop Culture / Trends
- School / College
- Social Issues / Civics
- Spirituality / Religion
- Sports / Hobbies
- Community Service
- Letters to the Editor
- Pride & Prejudice
- What Matters
When You Say Nothing At All
Amari was grotesque. Powerful arms hung limply from his broad shoulders like octopus tentacle. They were just long enough to look out of place on his large frame. His hand pushed away dark scraggly hair from his right eye which roved intelligently around the crazed stone streets, while the other half-heartedly attempts an imitation. He was not fat, but neither was he thin. When he walks, it’s always left shoulder forward, as if his torso was placed on a few degrees sideways. He limps. His broad shoulders curl inwards ever so slightly, so at first glance he looks a little like a hunchback.
Despite this, Amari was beautiful. His one good eye reflects both kindness and intelligence at the same time. He smiled often- a broad, kind smile that radiates with confidence and compassion- and he is as strong as an ox. Despite his awkward frame, he is nimble and quick. His voice is not harsh as people might at first expect, but actually quite fragie. It carries in it a feeling of calm and thoughtfulness, as if he cares for every word the other person is saying is vitally important to him.
This is the strange figure that shuffled down the colorful market street of Florence. The morning air was muddied by the shouts of street venders and black market deals, all vying to gain his attention. Amari simply smiled and ignored them and walked past.
Gradually, the streets began to become less crowded as he neared the edge of the market. It was a meeting with his brother Bryn that he had in mind. He rounded the well-known corner and smiled. There was his younger brother, with his run down cart piled high with leather. Talking animatedly with him was a beautiful young woman. It was a familiar scene. Bryn caught sight of him almost immediately.
“Amari!” He yelled in greeting.
“Brother,” replied Amari as he enveloped him in a bear like hug. They had always been the best of friends.
They’d made a pretty odd pair growing up- Amari with his limp and hunched back and Bryn always so tall and majestic. Bryn had always been good with the opposite sex. They were drawn to him in numbers that amazed Amari. Still, Bryn never despised or looked down on his older brother for his abnormalities. He’d always just accepted him, and for that Amari was very thankful.
“Amari, this is Adeline,” said Bryn gesturing to the woman beside him. “She is visiting from Paris.” Amari glanced over and smiled, nodding his head in greeting.
“It’s a pleasure,” he said, and he meant it. The woman raised her chin, and looked away from Amari.
“I must be going,” she said to Bryn in a proper French accent avoiding Amari’s perceiving eyes. Amari waited a few second while she strolled away before he spoke again.
“Charming,” he said with a sarcastic smile. Bryn shook his head knowingly and laughed.
Florence was beautiful at night. Amari sat with his legs dangling off of the side of a short stone wall that stood in the way of a 100 foot drop off of a cliff. The overhang provided a breathtaking view of the city. The sun hadn’t yet sunk below the hills in the west. Often, Amari visited this spot just to think things over. He always had so much to think over.
He heard her soft footsteps before he actually saw her. Amari smiled to himself. She more often than not was the object of his thoughts. “Hello, Luciana” he said, startling her. Her forehead furrowed slightly in frustration as she plopped down beside him. She had meant to surprise him. Amari looked over at her, trying to gage her reaction as she looked over the breathtaking view before her.
He could not help but think that she was the most beautiful person that he had ever known. She wasn’t perfect, no one is, but he loved her just the same. The gust of wind blew her jet black hair away from her shoulders. She was short and lively and her skin was dark, even for an Italian. If anyone were to ask what he loved most about her, he knew what he would say. It was that she was so happy and full of life. She lived every day of her life with a smile and a kind word. He loved her.
“Hi Amari,” she said with a joyful smile. He looked deeply in her eyes, holding her gaze, and then looked again towards the city. The smile on your face lets me know that you need me, he thought. Sometimes silence says so much more than words ever could. The touch of your hand says you’ll catch me whenever I fall, she think to herself when lightly grasped her tiny hand in his. She laid her head on his shoulder, and for a brief moment, he was completely content.
There was a loud banging on his door early the next morning. Amari’s first thought was for Luciana. He had gently carried her to her own house the night before after she had fallen asleep. She was alright. Who then? He hurriedly rolled out of his bed and took the steps to the front door by twos. When he had opened it a short squinty eyed man he recognized as one of his brothers acquaintances stood there.
“Yes,” he said questioningly, trying his hardest to keep the frustrated edge out of his voice. He did not appreciate being awakened so early in the morning.
“It’s your brother!” answered the little man, “I’m afraid he may have gotten himself in a little too deep this time.” A concerned look came across Amari’s face.
“Wait here,” he said. Amari rushed up the stairway to his room and hurriedly threw on some warm clean clothes. A few second later, he was again out the door, prepared to go.
The pair said very little as they pushed through the crowded streets. Nothing needed to be said. They turned abruptly from the main road and took a narrow alley to another street. Amari’s heart sank as he recognized the route they were taking. Amari’s fears were confirmed as they passed by the huge palace. The prison building built by the ruling Medici family towered up above the other building around it. “This way,” said the squinty eyed man gesturing towards the entrance.
The small man bid him goodbye as Amari prepared to enter the ominous building. Amari barely nodded in acknowledgement. He could handle things from here. As he stepped inside, two flamboyantly dressed guards blocked his way. “I am Amari Romano. I am looking for my brother, Bryn Romano,” he said. One of the guards nodded. “Follow me,” he instructed. Amari followed, glancing around at the cells he passed. Scrawny, pathetic people lay curled in the far black corners of the small cells. He could not help but pity them.
The guard stopped a few steps ahead of him at a cell and gestured towards it. Amari hesitated for a second before following. Bryn stood with his forehead resting between two narrow bars. His face was bruised horribly and his left eye was almost swollen shut. A cocky smile flashed across his face when he saw Amari.
“What happened to you?” asked Amari.
“Eh, I’ll be alright. I’ve been worse.”
“One on ten?”
“Twenty.” Amari chuckled at Bryn’s reply.
“Tell me about it.”
Gambling. Gambling had always been Bryn’s downfall. Amari knew he had piled up a mass of debts and with debts came enemies. As the older brother, Amari couldn’t help but feel a little protective, but this he could do nothing about. Once, he had even paid even his brothers debts for him, but he couldn’t continue to do that forever.
“How long are you in here?” He asked.
“Just for the night this time,” answered Bryn. He didn’t seem fazed in the least.
“You’ll be alright?”
“Yeah, I’m fine. Don’t worry about me. Get some sleep.”
Amari awoke from an uneasy sleep. He shivered and pulled the wool blanket more tightly around him. A white blanket of snow carpeted the ground. It must have come down during the night He rolled out of bed with a groan and pulled a heavy coat tightly around himself.
If all had gone well, Bryn had been set free that morning with nothing more than a few harsh words and a warning to stay out of trouble in the future. Amari smiled at this. “The chances of that actually happening,” he thought.
A trail of tracks lay behind Amari. Not even the snow would impede his progress today. There was something about the snow coated white buildings that had a certain magical quality. It was almost as if the city was more pure that day. At last, he reached his destination, a quaint two story house with a balcony that hung over the narrow street. He looked around for something to throw. There was nothing. Amari scooped up a handful of snow and tossed it at the door that led to the balcony. It landed with a loud thud and exploded into a million pieces. He waited for a second and then, deciding that maybe she hadn’t heard, scooped up another handful of snow just as the door opened.
He smiled as he saw her. Luciana was as beautiful as ever. Her dark hair framed her face in artificial curls. She smiled too when she saw him. How was it possible that someone so beautiful could love him? She was the only one that looked past his crooked walk or disproportionate frame and saw who he truly was on the inside.
“Good morning,” he said in greeting. She hesitated, causing Amari to wonder if something was wrong. It lasted only for a second.
“A little early isn’t it?” she asked as she stepped forward and rested her hands on the railing.
“It’s never too early to see you,” he answered. He was pleased when her faced flushed red.
“Do you do this often? Throwing snowballs at innocent ladies’ windows?” She asked with a laugh.
“This would be the first,” he answered casually, leaning back against the wall of the building across the street.
The talked like this for hours, laughing and exchanging stories. Luciana told him of the party that her family must attend later at the Medici palace where men wore ridiculous outfits and talked of painting and music as if it were all there was to life, and Amari told her of his adventure with his brother the night before. Slowly, almost imperceptibly, the snow began to fall more heavily around them, blurring Amari’s view and causing Luciana to shiver. Amari noticed instantly and immediately regretted his selfishness. She must be freezing! With a melancholy look Amari told Luciana that he should be going. The snow was falling so thickly that he could no longer see the balcony clearly. A cold wind swept through, blowing his hood away from his face. A cold chill caused his body to spasm and tense up. A blizzard was coming in.
The cold wind bit at Amari’s ears as he pushed his way through the rising mounds of snow. The going was slow and miserable. His fingers were frozen stiff and the boots he was wearing were filled with ice cold water from melting snow that had fallen in, numbing them as well. The walk back seemed twice as long as it had before. Finally he reached his house. Black clouds had darkened the sky so that he could barely even tell that it was midday. The wind howled eerily around him. He reached for the door handle and turned it, but the wind ripped it out of his hand and sent the door crashing open. A picture fell off of the wall, breaking on the cold wooden floor. It was a struggle for Amari to even get the door closed again. The wind fought him for every inch.
Finally, with a weak sigh he pulled his soaked boots off and collapsed into a chair. The snow now fell so heavily outside that he could make nothing out when he looked through his window. He saw only daunting clouds of white pouring down thickly. Amari did not even bother starting a fire in the fireplace. He was too exhausted. He drifted into a restless sleep, still contorted awkwardly in his chair.
Sleep brought little comfort to him. He dreamed that he was a child again, awkward and insecure. He was different and friendless. He was safe though. People knew not to pick on him because there was always his brother to stick up for him. This time, however, Bryn was nowhere to be seen.
It was a rock! Only a rock, one might say, but it was more to him, and it had sparked his interest. He picked it up and held it, admiring it. It was a marble black and smoother than any rock he had yet found. In a very childish way he felt that he loved it.
But the other kids had finished their game of ball and noticed him. He felt it rather than saw it. A brutal shove sent his large frame tumbling painfully onto his right shoulder. His long awkward arm scrambled to catch himself. He shielded the rock that he had found with his other. Before he could get a bearing of his surrounding again, another shove sent him into a nearby puddle. For a second, his face was submerged underwater but his powerful arms pulled himself up and out of the water and he gasped for breath. His dark, coarse hair lay matted across his forehead, and in a dark moment of anger his disproportionate arms thrashed around blindly looking for anything to take his fury out on. He had never before felt so angry. Then he saw him. His brother, Bryn stood near him with the shadowy rock gripped in his right hand. The other kids had backed away. “Bryn!” Amari cried, hope welling up inside of him. The look Bryn gave froze his blood. It was not of pity or hatred; it was neither loving nor unkind. It was cold and emotionless. He never said a word. He pulled his arm back, the black rock sparkling in the sunlight. A moment before he threw it, a pained look crossed over his face as if he hated what he was about to do, but he did not stop. He threw the rock at Amari’s forehead. Amari meant to scream, but no sound would come from his mouth. The world slowed, and the beautiful rock flew through the air towards him.
He woke covered in sweat and gasping for breath. He burned up despite the freezing air that hung heavily like a curtain around him. His neck ached from the uncomfortable position he had been sleeping in. Slowly, he tested his aching joints and stood up. He had not meant to sleep this late into the day. The sun had just begun its slow decent, and the snow had stopped. He hurriedly threw on a thick coat and pulled open the front door. The volatile Italian weather had begun to shift once again. Amari was almost warm. No snow fell anymore, and the streets were a trampled, muddy slush rather than the light white cloud they had been only a short time before.
Amari shuffled down Florence’s almost empty market street. His pronounced limp and strange appearance still did not dissuade the few venders who had braved the short storm from trying to gain his attention. He limped on wearily. He knew his brother would be out at his normal place. He needed the money to much to take a day off.
The sparsely populated streets dwindled to only a few scattered people as he neared the far edge of the market. He saw ahead the dark corner where his brother often stayed. The slush streets had become icy and treacherous to walk on so he steadied himself as best he could. A cold breeze hit him violently sending shivers down his spine, but it was gone as quickly as it had come. The world was silent. No birds sang, no people chatted merrily. It almost unnerved him. Finally, he made up his mind and stepped around the corner.
There was his younger brother, with his slightly run down cart matted with snow and piled high with leather. But he wasn’t alone. Her silky black hair gave her away. The confident stance, the dark eyes that seemed to see so far into you, they were all unmistakable. It was Luciana, and she stood with her hands in Bryn’s. Amari watched from his place right around the corner as she smiled at him. Bryn gently cradled her face and stooped down, kissing her lightly. She returned the kiss. Her eyes looked up at Bryn with a look that she had never directed towards him; a look that she would never direct towards him.
Amari did not know what emotion it was that passed through him then. Anger? Maybe. Hatred- perhaps bitterness or jealousy. Maybe it was all of this curled up into one. Amari slammed his fist as hard as he could into the brick wall beside him. He felt his hand shatter, but felt no pain. Not from his hand at least. He sunk to his knees and tried to think -to pull himself together- but he couldn’t. There was so much pain; there was so much betrayal. How could he have believed that anyone could ever love someone such as himself? He was worthless.
He remembered very little of his staggered trip back home. He didn’t feel the biting cold or the throbbing of his broken right hand. Amari didn’t react to heart break like most people. He didn’t slam the door on his way in or break anything; he didn’t cry out in anguish or voice curses at those who had betrayed him. Amari simply shut the door softly and collapsed on the couch. The only sound in the room was his haggard, quick breathing. A single tear brimmed on the edge of his eye unblinking eye, but it never fell. He sat down softly and silently on his soft chair and faced the embers that used to be a fire. The minutes ticked away and soon became hours. He never moved; he never spoke; he never thought. Finally, his weighted eyes became too heavy and though he fought it, he slowly drifted off into a deep dreamless sleep.
The storm had returned the next morning. Amari awoke in his own bed of white. Near his bed, a hooded figure knelt, hands clasped together in a silent prayer. Amari blinked twice, bringing the world into focus. His brother turned his face towards him. Pain! Pain is all that Amari saw imprinted on Bryn’s face. But for what? Didn’t he have everything? Amari’s sense of hearing was the next thing to come into focus. Faintly, he could hear a banging at the door as if people were trying to break in. Amari calmly slid out of his bed and walked towards his little brother. He quietly helped him to his feet and wordlessly stared into his dark eyes. He had read his expression wrong. It was fear, not pain. But for what? He thought a second time, Didn’t he have everything? He hit him. The blow hurt Amari more than it hurt Bryn. The broken bones in his right hand screamed in protest at the sudden abuse, but Amari ignored it. Bryn dropped to one knee and stayed there holding his bloody nose. Amari reached down and placed his hand on his shoulder.
“Leave. And pray that I never see you again,” he growled into his ear. Bryn looked up into Amari’s face. For the first time he realized that it was ugly.
“I can’t,” he said in a pleading voice. A loud crash downstairs told Amari that the group had broken through the front doors. Voices shouted from downstairs. There was a crash as they careless threw his furniture around. They were searching for something. “I can’t,” Bryn said again, “it has finally caught up to me.”
“Leave,” Amari repeated threateningly. His grotesque arm pushed Bryn away softly. Footsteps sounded as the group made their way up the stairs. There was a pounding on the door, than the crash of something heavy being battered against it. Soon they would be through. Tears ran down Bryn’s face and he frantically begged for help. Amari turned his back and stepped away. The door shuttered and so did Amari. Blood runs thicker than water… but not today. Bryn lay face down on the floor now, resigned to his fate. The door splintered and with a mighty kick, it fell inwards. Pure white snow fell in flurries outside of the window. Amari felt a hand touch his heel. It was Bryn. He turned and looked. Three figures stood at the door of his room, holding in their hands heavy clubs and deadly metal rods. Gambling. Gambling had always been Bryn’s downfall. Amari was all that stood between the three figures and Bryn. Bryn looked up pleadingly. The three figures stood at the door, unsure what to do. Amari looked back down at Bryn. He had all but given up. He lay curled into a fetal ball, awaiting his fate. “I owe him nothing,” Amari said to himself, but he could not turn away. Without knowing why, he raising himself to his fully height he stepped over Bryn’s prostrate body and stood between them and his brother like an angel of God. He was intimidating and tall and as unmoving as a boulder. The three figures exchanged looks, unsure what to do. Amari’s eyes blazed with resolve, so much so that gradually the resolution on the three figures’ faces began to fade away and they backed away. Then they were gone.
Something in Amari snapped in that moment. His knee buckled, and the tears that had refused to come before flowed like a river now. He had never before cried in his life. He stooped down and gently picked up his little brother. Softly, he layed him on his own white bed, and grasped his cold hand. The blood that still flowed from Bryn’s nose where Amari had hit him soaked into the perfect white sheets, staining them. Bryn’s eyes closed from exhaustion. Amari wasn’t even sure if Bryn could hear him, but he said it anyways. “I’m sorry, I’m sorry,” he repeated over and over again until his voice broke. Sheets of snow fell around the battered house, and at that moment Amari realized that as hard as it would be, he could forgive him.