I remember the days, with my brother. My parents would always call him an angel because of how great and ‘perfect’ he was. Always straight ‘A’s’, the captain of the basketball team and he’s always so nice. Sometimes, I would get jealous of him because of how much my parents admired him. But he would always be so kind to me. One time, I was getting bullied at school right? I don't know why, probably because I accidentally went to the girls toilets. I was lying down on the ground getting kicked by five kids. It felt like five soldiers of humiliation. They each hit the same spot for at least five minutes straight. Then I saw a shadow of a tall, muscular figure walking towards me. And I was just like, “Aw man, now the big guy’s coming?” But it was my brother. He scared them off and he gave me a hand up. Man I wish I was like him. I mean c’mon, if you saw his smile you would instantly regret doing anything bad to him. Something about that bright grin and his warm eyes just makes me want to hug him tight whenever I feel down. He would always comfort me. But then something very traumatic happened.
One day, the whole family was in the car for a long car ride. I hate these boring trips. I hate the stink of everyone’s body odour. I hate the sound of my parents constantly fighting. This time, me and my brother were having an argument about how he was such a terrible brother. Well honestly, I think it was kinda because he was the favourite and obviously I was jealous. It seems like I’m always getting yelled at. Of course my parents were on his side, because he was, well, I guess better. We continued this argument past my anger limit. I don’t know what happened to my brain, but my feelings came flooding out like a tsunami of knives. How Malcom was so much better than me and everything that he does matters and nothing that I do matters. I wanted to beat that perfect face to death. I told my family that I’m jumping out. I open the door and with my eyes closed. I jumped. I guess I was pretty crazy back then. I remember what happened next in torturous slow motion. Suddenly, I felt Malcom’s hand pulling mine. Then his arms were wrapped around my body. It felt comforting. My cool brother, that I actually loved, was trying to save me. But I realised that he had jumped out of the car with me. I never meant to hurt him. The next thing I know, blood was everywhere, on the road, on my clothes, splattered on my face. What was worse was that all the blood was coming from my dead brother...
July 21st was the day he died, two years later it was the day they abandoned me. It was the same day as my maths test. I got a C minus, and next thing I know, my parents are shouting at me for getting bad marks. So I fought back saying, “You would never say that to my brother!” And what happened next was a disaster. They physically hurt me to the point where I had bruises everywhere. Then they threw me out of the house. I walked away, with each bruise stabbing me every step. I found a corner of a dirty street, where rats might live, but that was my best option. It was that or under the bridge with the ants and spiders. The next day I knocked on the door until I nearly smashed the door open, but they never answered.
As I was sitting there on the dirty cracked street, dust flew by and I was feeling cold, I would do anything to get a bed to sleep on. I thought about how I got here. My parents were strict from the day I was born. They would always hit me even if I did the tiniest thing wrong. They made me a piece of garbage in the streets. Suddenly I was so angry with them. What’s wrong with my family?
A week passed of knocking the door and sleeping outside of “our” house.From that day on I knew I would never go into that house again. Yeah I know, just ‘cause I got trash grades and kinda insulted my dead brother, I turned into a homeless person. I guess the bills were too much to handle for my mum because she kicked me out of the house. But yeah it actually happened.
Now here I am on the streets. Everyone is calling me names which i don’t like. Trash flying by, car lights blinding my eyes and loud noises on the streets. I hate it! I begged for food from strangers that I didn’t trust, but I couldn’t starve to death. Most of the time, I get leftovers from burgers. Once I saw fresh saliva dripping down the burger, which almost made me vomit.
After a painfully slow week, an unusual man randomly came up to me. He then started greeting me. As we talked, I felt comfortable. I told him what had happened to me the other day, and guess what? The same thing happened to him when he was a child. What a coincidence! Then he told me, “God didn’t make you to give up when things go bad, he made us to take on the difficulties and rise back up.”
Weeks passed and a lot of lows hit me. Once, a gang of adults came up to me and started kicking me! Their bodies were showered with tattoos by the way. And they had huge muscles. It hurt, A LOT. You know being out here alone is pretty lonely to be honest. I could count all the people that went past, and they looked at me as if I looked like a pest. I didn’t know it was so hard to live out here on my own. The weather, the hard road, my so called “bed” that everyone stepped on, which is quite depressing. But what I hated most, is the people who treated me like an insect. Always telling me to go away with their cold, dead eyes. But Michael words kept me together. I started to get nicknames like rat-boy and stink face, from people who I saw daily. They looked as if they were so proud of what that had said, but I ignored them. It seemed to help.
I tried getting jobs, but everywhere I went, they would kick me out. Probably because I had holes all over my shirt and I hadn’t showered in a few weeks. But Michael would always come once a week to keep me company. Which would make my week less trash. Sometimes he would buy new clothes for me.
I was walking along the street when I saw a teenager crying outside on the street. He looked like he had no family and his life was ripped apart. I faked my grin as I walked towards him on the dusty street. I sat next to him. His eyes were red from constant rubbing. His clothes were torn. I felt bad for him. I talked to him and he seemed comfortable around me. I asked him for his age and he told me that he was nineteen. He seemed a lot younger than that.He talked about how he lost his family. He told me everything. For some reason, I knew he was the one. I could regulate how he acts and then he could be my slave. I acted as if I wanted to help him.
I bought him new clothes and I told him inspiring things that came to me as I was talking to him. Baby steps. I left him in the streets because he was too dirty to go in my house. That boy fell into my trap. That idiot. Over time, the kid reminded me of my past self. An orphan who got abandoned. I remember that day as a dark day indeed. I got left alone by my very own parents. I shouted their names as their silhouettes moved further away from me, camouflaging into the misty air. From that point on, I started to hate everyone, everything. Mother and Father can finally be proud of me This pain that's lingering inside of me, it must go away. This world shall know my pain. I work so damn hard and yet my suffering is so great.
A plan is already forming in my brain. It just instantly popped up in my head. The delicious details started to flow towards me. I’m going to succeed. I will make this kid my slave.
First of all, he has to know how important I am to him. He needs to make me feel like the king. Then I could tell him that if he is disrespectful to me, I will leave him. I will say it jokingly of course, but it will make him fear me. Perfect! It’s so amazing that my plans are always perfect. I’m perfect. That’s a great plan. How smart am I? To just instantly think of a genius plan like that. With a devious brain like this, he’s mine! I can already see myself with a big grin on my face while this kid is drenched with sweat doing all the work for me. It’s marvelous. The feeling of power is great! I can rule the world with him doing all the work!
As I was talking to this man, I could feel a connection that we had. We both had lost our parents. That's how I got closer to him. Because we shared the same pain. I felt as if there was someone there for me, and that I was not alone. I feel relaxed. We could understand each other. I thought he was a good guy, but I also felt a patch of darkness in him. Maybe it was what had happened to him at his childhood? He seemed so nice.
Months went by. We went everywhere, even the really fancy places like Cafe Du Monde and La Colombe Torrefaction. He was probably trying to impress me, I think it worked. The red carpet, the luxury fish tank, the waiters in tuxedos did the trick. Man it was cool. While we were talking, I realised He had many bad things in his past. He went through many operations and great suffering because of cancer. His uncle commited suicide in the belief that he could join his family in heaven. He got abandoned by his parents and the list went on and on. I felt bad for him. Sometimes his darkness would take over. I would see him hitting the table, full of anger. I felt really bad. I wanted to help him.
I went to Cafe Du Monde with Jake so I can look cool to him, even though I already am. Expensive, with all the people dressed in matte black suits. It was kinda embarrassing for me to go there with Jake, the stinking pile of worthlessness that he was. We talked about how he got abandoned, so I told him my story.
“That day, that cursed day. I was happily sipping on some odd tasting orange juice. Everything was fine, I thought. Suddenly I felt slow and heavy, so I dumped my body onto my bed. My vision was getting so blurry that I had to close my eyes. Then, I heard a rhythm. The tick, tick, tick of the clock. The sound got slower and slower until it slowly melted away. Everything started twirling around like ballerinas who drank too much coffee. And then it felt like my life came to an end.
I slowly opened my eyes to my parents’ sudden shocked faces as I waved to them. It took me a pretty long time to realise I was gracefully floating on water, slowly moving away from my parents. I realised then, that my devilish parents had drugged me and tried float me away on a raft leading into the middle of nowhere. They looked shocked that I’d woken up too soon. Then the shocked face was replaced with a very very disappointed look. Then they turned away looking down on the wet ground as they walked as slow as a turtle back to the house. I screamed their names as loud as I could. I did it many times. Soon my screams quickly turned into sobs, and then tears.
I was lying there as if the whole world put its weight on my shoulders. I felt something crawl down to the side of my face. I didn’t know if it was my sweat or my tears. Then I felt it go through my body. I didn’t think much of it because all I was thinking about was how I was unwanted and how everyone is useless and that I was the only person in this whole entire world that has a heart and cares for people. I will never forgive anyone who did something, anything bad to me. Nobody in this world would have a big enough heart to forgive anything.
This is why I’m me crazy. But the thing is Jake, nobody, nobody in this devilish world would forgive anyone who does that to you. Jake, remember this, never forgive anyone who does bad to you, they need to learn their lesson.”
I thought about what he had said. I felt like there was some reason for why someone would do such nasty things. I believe in second chances. That’s what God would say. But I’m not God, so, eh what do I know?
I realised, as we got closer and closer, he also got more harsh on me. Like one time, he invited me to his house and told me I stink and made me do chores because of it. Some of these chores I really hated. One time he made me clean the toilets with one thin piece of tissue paper. The water splashed right onto my face right as I started cleaning, and the tissue paper disintegrated quickly but Michael just laughed like a cruel prison guard. Another time, he made me clean the floor of his house without allowing me to use his vacuum cleaner. My hands were red tomatoes and my back and knees hurt from all that crawling. It took me hours. I guess he was trying to act as if I'm his child, giving me some tough love.
I decided that I wouldn’t complain and make trouble. He's done too many good things for me and he is my only family to me now. This relationship was becoming important to me. Even though he would leave me in the dust sometimes. He would sometimes ignore me as if I was really annoying, I guess I am sometimes. But it’s probably to make me mentally stronger. To make me not get affected by what others say about me.
As time flew by, everything seemed to get harder. Like the chores. and he spoke a bit more rough on me.Now it feel more like slavery. Sometimes he would make me say bad things to homeless people, people like me. Which I could not understand but I did it anyway to please him. And if I don't do what he says he would punish me by being cruel to me and making a angry face as if I was stupid. It used to feel like he occasionally slipped some bad things in the good, but now it seems like the bad side of him has taken over.
A few more weeks passed of, well I guess you would call it child labour. I was starting to wonder if this was for my benefit or for his. One day, he had a cheeky look fixed firmly on his face like a dictator about to give some amusing command. He wanted us to rob a bank. Real fun isn’t it? At first I thought he was joking or something but I went with the flow because I didn’t want to have another lecture session with him saying why I should follow his rules. I didn’t want to feel like a puppy who just wrecked the whole house. I couldn’t bare the way he made me feel when he told me off. By now I would do anything to avoid it. He told me that I should go up to the counter when there were no customers and get the money. Then run as fast as I can to the car. Michael told me that everyone will be acting, which was a relief.
We arrived at the bank and I could feel my heartbeat gradually growing faster and faster. As he slowly gripped the car door, he looked at me with those pathetic puppy eyes. He asked me. “ Do I really have to do this?” And I replied with a furious tone, “ How many times do I have to tell you! You worthless child. Of course you have to do it. Whatever I say, you have to do. Never contradict me!” With a stunned look on his face, he scrambled out of the car. I faked my smile as if I was a proud parent dropping off their child as they went to school. I told him, “Don’t worry, I’ll be right behind you.” Like I was ever going in. Then winked at him.
I looked at the huge building taking a gulp. As I entered, my shaky hand slipped on the doorknob, I was already dripping with sweat. There were no customers except for me. My body was feeling heavier and heavier like I was slowly being filled with lead. As I dragged my limbs near the counter, I wasn’t sure who was operating them, was it Michael with a remote control? As I cautiously looked around even my eyesight was going nuts. Colours were messed up, black spots floated like massive planets. My stomach was sinking like the goddamn Titanic.
The guy behind the counter was waiting for me. I put on the most angry face I could make and walked towards the counter. For a few seconds we just blankly stared at each other. Every part of me told me to run, but I stood there like a stone. Then I remembered Michael’s words before I got out of the car. “Don’t muck around, quickly pull out your gun and point it.” As I did so, I nearly dropped it on the floor. All I could think of was the most cliche movie line: “Gimme your money!” For some crazy reason it crossed my mind that next time if we ever do this again, I should say, “Gimme ALL of your money,” so the bank would give me all of the money, not just half of it. I quickly turned around to check everything was alright, but to my surprise Michael wasn't there. Then as I turned back to the teller... ‘CLUNK’
I woke up feeling dizzy. I was in a tiny room with Michael right next to me. He had a guilty look on his face. His normal cocky self had washed away. I looked around. The dark room with stains on the wall instantly gave a scary kind of feeling in my gut. It felt very depressing. The spider webs in the corner of the room creeped me out more than they should’ve.
I heard keys ruffling. An officer came in with a notepad, and introduced himself as “Officer Collins”. He took me out of the room to talk one-on-one. We entered an even darker room with one small lamp. The officer started asking me questions and I answered truthfully. But I didn’t tell him that Michael planned this, thinking it's still all a big act. Funny thing is, I had a weird feeling inside of me that this was all real, like a small little voice, trying to scream out of the small little box that its in. No, it can’t be. All the nice things that he had done for me, Michael wouldn’t do such a thing. After the officer was finished talking to me, he sent me back to the cell. Then it was Michael’s turn. A few minutes passed. Then they both came in with Michael behind the officer looking like a little kid who peed his pants. Weirdly the officer wanted to see me alone again. What told me was shocking… Nasty things he did before. Things like what he did to Jake. He said that Michael had tried to force me into becoming his slave for me to do his dirty work. My mind just shut down. I couldn’t think. Then Officer Collins led me to my cell for the night.
My body froze. I didn't believe him at first, but then I started having flashbacks about how he had treated me for the last few months. It all started to make sense. All the pieces came together like a halloween nightmare puzzle. My head knew that the officer was telling the truth but my heart had a different opinion. My vision started to blur. Why am I breathing so hard? The policeman then stood up saying,“You seem too shocked right now to talk to me, lets try again later.” He led me to my cell.
I couldn’t sleep at all that night. I just looked blankly at the ceiling, like my whole body was paralysed. Not knowing what to do, I looked at the rust on the bars as if it was some sort of bizarre key to getting out of this room full of misery. I didn’t know what to do. I started getting flashbacks of all the bad things he had done to me. The random shouting, the evil looks and the dumb chores. Everything started to make sense. I realised how dumb I was for believing he was a good person till now. I cried pretty hard.
I raced down and tried to find the nametag ‘Officer Collins’ because I couldn't remember his face. Probably because of the dark room, or maybe I was too messed up by what had been said to me. I ran past all the rooms full of evil spirits. Then I saw Michael. I finally saw the evil face inside of him that I’d never seen before. All of a sudden I realised why I couldn’t remember the police officer’s name! Because I got knocked in the head in the bank! Ah, that's the one. No, no, NO! That's not what I should be worrying about! I could’ve ran striaght past Officer Collins because of this stupid inner monologue. I guess it did help with the stress. I crashed into someone. I felt guilty running through the hallway like that. I could feel my face boiling up. They could’ve thought that I was escaping prison or something. I looked up and I saw the badge that said ‘ Officer Collins’ . I told him, “I’ve made up my mind. He’s evil.”
I didn’t know he would let me out of prison this easy. I kicked a small rock along the dark street. More flashbacks started entering my head. Good memories with Michael this time. The good old days. All the bad things were erased from my mind. Even though it felt like it was too long ago, I still can remember, but faintly. I wanted to give him another chance. I stood there in the middle of the street, paralysed, again. As the car lights hit my eyes, the realisation slapped me hard like a bullet piercing through my thoughts. And this time I knew instantly what to do. All my doubts suddenly went away, somehow.
I sprinted to the back to the prison as fast as I could. I tumbled through the door, nearly losing my cool. I saw Officer Collins at the front desk. I told to him call Michael Clarkson to the visitor area thingy. I guess he trusted me or something because he did it.
I entered the room feeling nervous. I didn’t know where to look so I looked at my sweaty shaking palms. I saw him waiting. I sat down. With a deep breath I said, “Look, things were tough, You have done bad things, you have to admit. But, I know there is good in you. You just have to find it. I know the pain that you had to deal with. I’ve gone through it too. You may have gotten it worse than me. I know the feeling. You just want everyone to feel the same way as you. You feel lonely. I wanna thank you for the good time you gave me and I needed someone to keep me in control. But life is harsh, it's not the end of the world is it? You have to live on. Even after all the things you’ve done, I forgive you.”
I couldn't believe it. I froze. I cried. That kid. He…. He’s a leader, a hero. He forgave me. I couldn’t understand why or how. After all the things I had done to him, How can somebody forgive me. He’s just a kid. Those words will be with me forever. As I lifted my teary face up, I said,
A few years after Michael went to prison, I met the love of my life. Now we’ve got kids, one 4 year old boy and one 2-year old girl. Money is no longer a problem to me, thankfully. A few months after I got out of jail, I applied to be a detective and criminal investigator. After what had happened to me and Michael, I had realised that there were still people out there that was getting tricked by people like Michael. I knew this was not how people should be treated so I tried to become one of those detectives. It took me a while to make it. I mean like I had to do at least 100 interviews to get in, until someone was kind enough to give me a job. I’m the boss now, like the lion of the jungle. I read lots of good books until I could fit in with normal people. I met Michael a few days ago. I meet him every week, just like when he always came once a week when I was homeless. I came so he wouldn’t go back to his evil ways again. The beast inside of him has finally been defeated. He’s been in prison for seven years, and he will be out in a few months. Hopefully we can have trips like we did back in the day.
A few days ago, we talked about what had happened to us in the seven year gap. I told him that I wrote a book about what had happened to me since he came into my life. And I talked about how I met my beautiful wife. I told him that it felt like I was looking at a star being born when I first saw her. So then I asked her out on a date, and the rest is history.
I walked home, thinking about what me and Michael talked about. I thought about how we first met, which reminded me of the trauma of getting kicked out of my own house. At the time, that hurt me a lot. But, I guess I did do some unforgivable things to my parents. So I decided to go to what used to be my home to apologise and forgive them.
I took a deep breath and gently knocked on the door. It gave a familiar creak. A few seconds later, my Mother slowly opened the door. She was speechless. For a few seconds, we just stood there and looked at each other. She looked exactly the same as she did seven years ago. Maybe some wrinkles here and there but overall she looked the same. Although I felt like there was some sadness in her eyes that I didn’t remember being there before. It felt like we were staring at other for too long so right then and there, on the doorstep, I nervously choked out my apology that I had been practicing for the last 20 minutes while I was walking. “I’m sorry that I wasn’t like my brother. I’m sorry, it was my fault that he passed away. I’m sorry that I broke your favourite vase with a baseball. And most importantly, I’m sorry that I have caused you pain by disappearing. And boy, she looked so shocked. I’ve never seen her like this before. She told me to come in. Memories flowed in, every step that I took. I sat down on the couch. My mother sat next to me. She told me that my father had died from severe heart disease last year. And she also told me that she regretted her decision to kick me out of the house. She searched all around for me, for years. She apologised more than ten times. Then I told her my story. Her eyes filled up with sadness, shock and pride. She squeezed me tight. She hugged me like she had never hugged me before. Well I think the last time she hugged me was like when I was five years old! It cleared my mind from all the negative things. Then she whispered, “Your brother and your father would be so proud of you.” The moment I heard that, tears fell down from my eyes, into my mother’s sweater.