A Letter that Can Never be Delivered

By , Colorado Springs, CO
When I was a freshman
(In every sense of the term)
And innocent to the world,
It’s cruel workings,
I thought you were pure inside—
Assumed that all you did,
(All everyone did, in fact,)
Was come to marching band,
Fool around,
Play a bit of music,
Make me laugh until my sides hurt.
(Oh, I looked forward to sectionals then.)

We were the greatest section, weren’t we?
The alto saxes?
We barely worked on the runs, but of course
We had them down better than any.
So naturally did we become a family.

Once or twice, Shaun, the other funny one,
(And he was kinder to me before,)
Climbed up the column to the second floor,
For some daring joke,
But once he got stuck,
(Wasn’t that hilarious?)
So you ran up the stairs and lifted him to the top,
So he wouldn’t fall.
Isn’t that true?
And you were strong back then, too.

And for the football games,
Weren’t you the best one for asking,
(In that little kid way,)
To put on my gauntlets?
Didn’t you always?
Weren’t you the best at that?

And who was the one,
When I forgot to bring my ligature
At the last second before the performance,
(Stupid, forgetful kid)
Who made a makeshift one out of a girl’s hair ties for me?
Didn’t that save me?

And after state,
After we became champions,
(my first time,)
I remember you said,
Here, gimme a hug,
And you gave good bear hugs—
Ones that made me warm inside,
And maybe even squeezed tears out.
(Yes, you were kind to that quiet, nervous freshman girl.)

And I began to love you—
Weren’t you a
(In a tough sort of way)
Big brother of mine?

Didn’t I admire you, despite anything?

Oh, but that was before,
And I am frightened for you now…

Once,
You let me borrow your instrument to play
(I’m stupid and forgetful even today)—
Did it smell strangely of beef jerky like I thought it did,
That sweaty Doug smell after band practice,
Or was it something else?
Your clothes smell of it too, always now.
And your hair.
(It’s long hair now, but it was different before, remember?)
Could it be what they said it was?
The smell of drugs?

When we had the funniest times
At sectionals, smirking, howling, rolling on the floor, laughing
When Gillian and Rachel found a bouncy ball
And bounced it all over the empty hallways,
Or when we came up with the hilarious nicknames for Lee
(Flaming Chuck Lee, human Q-Tip, etc…)
Or when all of us ran out into the pouring rainstorm,
And Shaun lay right in a giant puddle
(There was no puddle left when he got back up, was there?),
Or when you started the Mo-mo chant before performances,
(For good luck),
Were you really high all then,
Like they said you were?

Why, Doug?

Why?

You always had pierced ears
(Both of them, in fact),
But now they have much more than simple studs in them.
You always wore the black, baggy t-shirts,
But your stomach shows through them now.
You aren’t strong anymore… and if I were a stranger,
I might even say that you were a fat, ugly Mexican.
Isn’t that what you call yourself? And we all laugh, of course.
But that is not who you truly are, right?

Sometimes you swear,
About your car,
About your sax,
About life,
And hit people
(Like John, during sectionals),
But you aren’t serious, right?

And I used to laugh when you said, jokingly,
That your saxophone
(It sure is a beauty, isn’t it?)
Was worth way more than your junky car was.
But then you had to go to court in some other city,
And during band, you told us that
It was for something you did with your car.
A ticket, wasn’t it?
(I can’t remember.)
And if you didn’t show up for it, you’d be put in jail.
In even deeper s***, didn’t you say?

And now you can’t even pay ten dollars that you owe someone,
Because you are so far into debt…
Four thousand dollars, wasn’t it? From what?
From your saxophone, your car, what else?

And because I still loved you
I wanted, so badly, to give you the ten dollars.
Just ten dollars, right?
But I didn’t.

Sometimes,
(And I know this is wrong, but)
I am even frightened of you.

When you throw away trash into the dumpster,
You do it angrily,
And the clang and echo and screech scares me.
But you laugh, you laugh
Even when it hurts your ears.
And you complain, quietly,
About the terrible injustices of life.
I can see them now.

You’re a senior this year,
And I’ll miss you when you’re gone.
Sometimes, when your face softens,
(And you may laugh at me for saying this, but)
I think you’ll miss us too.

Oh, and I still love you now,
Big, funny brother.
Then I turn around, and my love is all the greater,
With tears brimming in my eyes.

But you are not the same to me.





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