He sleeps right across the hall from me, or at least he used to, until he moved off to college. He left enough of a mess in his room to show he lived there, though. Andrew never made his bed before he left or tidied anything up, just left it as if he were going to come home the next day and relax.
Sitting at the end of the dining room table with books piled as high as mountains. His head buried in his computer or a textbook, only looking up if it was dinner, or if the house were on fire. All night long it seemed, his eyes wide open. I never knew if his head ever hit the pillow.
At seven o’clock in the morning, I would hear the nails on the chalkboard, Andrew sliding the hangers across the rod, picking out a shirt to wear, letting me know I should actually wake up this time.
And his voice. The childish voice he used when he called my name. Lu. Or Lulu. That was my name. He would shrink up his lips, talk in a grandma type way. The voice you hear the wolf use in Little Red Riding Hood. Lu! Come to dinner. He had his professional, grown-up voice. His debate voice. The one that sounded like he was speaking a foreign language because he talked so fast. His casual, mumbling voice. Polite but casual voice. Playful voice. Angry voice. All perfectly clear in my head. I might as well have seen him just a few hours ago. I remember him like I did.
If I came over, even if he was working, he’d talk to me. Come up with crazy solutions to my problems. He would tell me he would beat people up if they were mean to me. Say something totally ridiculous, something that I know would never happen. And that was enough to cheer me up. Push everything on my mind off to the side. Make room in that storage place for a joke or two.
That’s what I miss. His cheerful personality, even when I knew he was stressed on the inside. He could make anyone feel better. Somehow he found a way to forget about all of his problems for a moment, and help me solve mine. He made me feel important. And he did that even when I knew he had other, more progressive things to do.
He would make our lives more enjoyable. And because he did that, it seemed like there was an unspoken rule; he would help us, if we gave him food. Never stop eating. It could be his motto. Ate anything he could that came anywhere close to him. His stomach was a drain for food. At least two dinners a night. My poor mom.
But now, with him gone, it’s like there’s nobody to make food for. Our house is lonely. Quiet. Like someone took a large vacuum and sucked all the life out. All the playfulness, the fun. It all left with him. We took a box and stuffed him and everything he brought to our family in it. We shipped it off, with no return address, so it can’t come back. Maybe it will. But, it won’t be the same box.
Age 13, Grade 7
Hunter College High School