Writing has always been a good distraction for me. It distracts me from the pain I feel, hurt I endure, the ache from my brother's constant absence, always there but not there at the same time. It distracts me from who I am. Pathetic, but true.
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When I write, I forget about my brother, forget my name. The four, badly chipped white walls of my room fade away, and I become someone else. I become whoever I want to be. That relief, however, is only temporary, because I eventually have to return to my reality, a reality that I've come to despise.
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I despise school, because I've learned to despise people. I despise the subjects that I do. I love my brother, but I despise the relationship that I have with him. That is perhaps the worse one. There isn't much that I wouldn't do to mend our relationship.
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This classroom wreaks of that reality, the stench of the teenagers after a full day of school filling the air. I watch as the teacher's lips move with passion, his hands gesturing to convey his emotions, but I can't hear him. Or I don't want to. I'm not quite sure which one.
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I've been occupying my time by trying to calculate the number of tiles on the floor, since I can't take out my book and start writing in the middle of the class. I’m not that rude. I start by counting the number of tiles across the class vertically. Then horizontally. Then, I multiply. Then, I start to analyse the individual tiles. I notice that each of the marble tiles seems to have it's own, unique pattern, almost as if having personalities or fingerprints. Like people. Then, the thought of how no two irises are the same comes to mind, and I start to think about my own eyes, which bums be out.
He catches my attention when he starts giving out colourful folded pamphlets, letting the students pass them around the class. Two are handed to me, and I regard them both with mild interest. They're university pamphlets.
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“So, yes! You need to start thinking about life after sixth form...”
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I tune him out once more, picking at a loose thread on my dark green uniform. University is the last thing on my mind. I'd like to finish sixth form first, then worry about that later. With a brother like mine, I don't even see how the tuition fee would be paid. Our parents died when I was thirteen, and he has been my legal guardian ever since. It hasn't been particularly easy on him, but he hasn't tried that hard either. For someone with a bachelors in human resource management, he could be a little bit more ambitious. Instead, he insists on being the loyal barista at a deli uptown with no apparent interest of changing his job. Not that there's anything wrong with being a barista. It's just that he has the resources to do better, and he has me to support.
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As the students begin to trickle out of the classroom, I gather my things into my bag, standing myself. However, my teacher, who’s name I cannot remember, stops me.
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“Emma, can I talk to you for a minute?” he asks gently. He smoothens the front his long sleeve dark purple shirt with one, skinny-fingered hand.
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I really don’t want to. The thought of interacting with another person leaves an unpleasant feeling on the back of my keck, but for my own sake, I choose to not give him some half as se'd excuse to run out on him. He has never asked to speak with me privately, though, so I figure that it's important.
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Slowly, I drag my feet towards the young teacher, my eyes pointedly staring at his tie. I don't like making eye contact with strangers, or those who I am not familiar with. It feels as if I'm opening myself up to judgement, what with having heterochromia and all.
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Once I am standing in front of him, I raise my eyes to his lips to see that he graces me with a smile, a genuine smile. It's as if he wasn't expecting me to come to him. I don't blame him.
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“Have you thought about university yet?”
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No, because my brother is unambitious and broke.
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“No, sir.” I smile gently at him, touched by his concern. I don't usually smile at people, but I will make an exception when someone does something exceptionally kind or special, like this.
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I look up into his eyes, feeling as if it would be rude to look away for any longer. His brow creases in concern as he licks his dry lips in thought.
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“Well, you should. I think it would be good for you.” This entire statement surprises me, especially the sureness in his voice. Is he my teacher? Has he seen my grades? It sounds as if his words are arranged incorrectly.
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Probably reading my facial expression, he elaborates.
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“High school is not the be all and end all of everything. I do believe that you would excel at what you want to do, and the selection here isn't very great.”
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He does make it sound appealing, but I can visualise my brother lying on the couch at home, doing nothing to further himself. I don't feel like I know him well anymore. I'm not too sure about what his reaction would be to the idea of me going to university. It could go either way.
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“I can see that you're still hesitant. Tell you what, why don't you talk to you're parents about it?”
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I can't. They're dead.
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“Sure.” I decide that as soon as I get home, I will talk to my brother about this. Hopefully, he will listen.
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When I reach home, the house is almost completely dark, excepting the moonlight and street lights outside filtering in through the windows. I can barely see, and it is dead quiet, but I know that he’s here.
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The sound of his irritated, sleep roughened voice is not even two feet from me. He lies with his stomach flat across the couch and his bag on the floor.
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“Yeah, I can see that,” he bites out at me, the menacing growl something that I am all too familiar with. He isn't actually upset with me, he's just miserable. I know that it's best to just ignore his behaviour when he gets like this, for a peaceful life. I shake my head and put my school bag on the floor.
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“So, how was work?” I ask him gently as he gets off of the sofa.
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“Okay.” He never really says more than that, always keeping his replies short. “You hungry?”
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“Yeah.” I flip on the light switch, illuminating the dark brown sofas and peach walls of our living room. I hear him shuffling in his bag behind me, and then turn to see him stepping towards me.
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“Here,” he grunts, thrusting a sandwich into my hands. He must have had it in his bag.
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“Thank you.” One of the only perks of him working in the deli is that he gets two free items a day. To me, it still isn't a good enough reason to stay.
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“So, how was school?” he asks me as he pulls out his own sandwich. That's when I remember the instructions that my teacher gave me, and I tense up. Looking my brother in the face as we eat food from the deli that he works at, I am reminded of what I am asking him to do. It may seem like no big deal to anyone else, but he really, passionately loves serving coffee to rich people for reasons best known to himself. Our relationship is already fragile, and I don't want to damage it more by asking him to do something unnecessary.
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This is once again a painful reminder that our relationship is not what it used to be. Painful, but necessary. When I was younger, he would sleep in my bed with me so that I wouldn't cry myself to sleep. He made me feel safe, secure. Now, even at the ripe old age of seventeen, crying myself to sleep is a regular occurrence, because happiness evades me. I cry over the broken man that I can't help. I cry over what once was and probably will never be again. Just looking at him hurts sometimes, but I'd rather suffer the pain of having him than losing the only family that I have left.
I can't bring myself to do it. So instead of going with my original plan, I simply say:
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“Fine. School was fine.”
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I see a flicker of disbelief flash through his dark brown eyes as I bite into my food, but thankfully, he chooses not to comment.
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I usually write about a girl named Anna; a girl with normal issues, normal eyes, a normal life. Essentially, I become Anna when I write. Ideas, even if I initially dislike them, almost always come to me naturally. I can't ever remember having writer’s block, because I just envision the life that I want and then write it down.
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Never had I imagined that it would be so awful, being stuck in your own reality, unable to escape it. The computer screen goes dead from lack of use, and I close my eyes in resignation. I won't be seeing Anna tonight. Only Emma, and I don't know how long it will last. That frightens me. How long will I be stuck with myself, inside of my own head? I can't find happiness outside of that escape, the escape of writing, of creating my own world. Despite my depression, I've never thought that I might actually lose my mind, but I think that this might do the trick.