I remember the day my big brother left. He’d gotten into some big fight with our Dad—but Elliott always got into some big fight with our Dad. They were always too alike, Mom said, and alike charges repel each other. At the end of the fight, He stormed out. He always stormed out.
I didn’t chase him or call after him. I’d stopped doing that around my eighth or ninth birthday, because he always came back. So, at thirteen, I watched my big brother storm out of the house and I didn’t even raise a hand to stop him. I looked back down at the book I was studying quickly, desperate not to make eye contact with my father when he was in a fight with Elliott kind of mood. Mom would hand him—Mom always knew how to handle him.
Before I went to bed, I pushed my window wide open, and turned on the little light by my desk, angling it so someone in the back yard could see it. It mean that Dad had calmed down, that Elliott could come home—the window was open for him. He’d come in around four in the morning, kiss me on the forehead, apologize for scaring me, then go to his own room as quiet as a mouse.
But he didn’t come back. I thought maybe he just needed and extra day to cool off. He’d be home the next night. I thought that for eleven days before I realized he wasn’t coming back. He wasn’t going to apologize for scaring me. He was simply gone.
Mom reported him, but he was nineteen so there was only so much that could be done. He was gone, and if he didn’t want to be found, then he wasn’t going to be found. I resigned myself to never seeing him again. My brother was as good as dead to me.
When I graduated high school, just after I turned eighteen, I had a part at the local park with a hand of the other students graduating in the neighborhood. Mom was showing something to someone, I don’t remember what—but the batteries died so she asked me to run back to the house and get some for her. I couldn’t find any in the kitchen, so I headed up to my room to get some out of my desk.
I screamed bloody murder when I saw the strange man on my bed. Everyone came running to see if I was okay. That’s how we all learned my brother was back in town.