a space for youth writing on mental health & identity
a space for youth writing on mental health & identity
Ubiquitous means to be appearing everywhere. Do you know what has become seemingly ubiquitous everywhere I go? My brother Kaleb’s face, which is sort of bizarre because he hasn’t “appeared” for nearly two years. Two years ago I saw him once, right before he was confined underground in a claustrophobic coffin for the rest of eternity. But I still see his face everywhere. The eyes that used to be so big I called him Bug-Eyes when we were younger, his uneven but undeniably adorable dimples that appeared when he flashed his famous smirk, his chocolate brown eyes with a warmth that enveloped you like a thick blanket. I really wish those features could be actively moving again, not just stationary stones plastered on every tree trunk, newspaper, and mailbox. He is gone, and these people just want to get our hopes up again.
Candor means honest. If you’ve read Divergent, you may know that. Kaleb was a candor person. He spoke his mind and expressed himself using his expansive vocabulary. My parents adored him because he was always flaunting those pompous words (he taught me pompous), and I dismissed him as an overachieving braggart. Of course I wasn’t the perfect sister. I didn’t know I would lose him. Despite this being a cliche quote, the words “You take it for granted until you lose it”, are awfully true. I didn’t greet Kaleb with an affectionate smile every time he returned from school. Usually I was frowning, or yelling at people. And not with those fancy words he used like hypocrite and ignoramus and ingrate. I just used idiot and selfish and dummy. I’ve been trying to recall all of those grand words that he tried to teach me.
I plop down at my battered desk and try to write a list, but the only words that come to mind are “ubiquitous,” “pompous” and “poignancy”. My brother’s face has become ubiquitous. Seeing his face dredges up the poignant memory of his carefree laugh. It reminds me that I miss him despite his overuse of pompous words.
Apprehension means anxiety or fear that something bad or unpleasant will happen. I am filled with apprehension as I pace restively around the chorus room. Usually my father picks me up from school at 3:32 PM, 3 minutes before they direct the uncollected students to their last-period classrooms to wait for buses. Then we drive to the local preschool to pick up my twin siblings Brayden and Rosie, which takes eleven minutes. Then it takes about ten minutes to wrangle Brayden into the car to take him to swim practice, because he almost never fails to have a conniption about attending the class. Kaleb taught me the word ‘conniption’.
“It means a fit of rage or hysterics”, he explained in a quiet voice as we watched Brayden’s regular tantrum. I rolled my eyes, peeved by his overly- showy words as always, but now I wish I’d paid more attention.
It is currently 3:46 PM. I should be watching my father wrestle Brayden into his carseat and giving Rosie her snack. I am supposed to be checking her blood sugar and writing it down in a special notebook that mom insists should stay up to date.
An uneasy knot twists in my stomach, making me feel a sense of deja vu that I never wanted to feel again. Nothing was going as it normally did the day Kaleb died. Everything just seemed odd. Overly perfect but in a fabricated way that tempts fate to make something go terribly wrong.
What if my father had gotten into a car accident? Or Rosie had lost consciousness or had a fatal stroke because the teachers were reckless with her insulin levels? Or Brayden ran into a tree and was now in a permanent coma? What if Brayden was actually relieved that nobody could drive him to swim practice because my dad was in the hospital? The apprehension intensifies.
Solace is comfort in a time of distress or sadness. I take solace in making lists. I like to make lists for everything. They make me feel comfortable and adequately prepared to face my life. They reduce the general attrition of my boring daily routine. As I tap my foot fretfully against the linoleum floor, I write a list of all of the words I have, then I send an eloquent text message to my mom using all of the grandiose words I compiled. “Mom, I notice Kaleb a lot more with the food poisoning stuff even though we both know we can’t salvage any part of him because he’s gone and we have to accept that. He's become ubiquitous, which means to be appearing everywhere if you didn’t know. If I am being candor, I don’t like remembering him because the memory is poignant, even though I miss his pompous words and I am feeling a lot of apprehension because Brayden’s conniptions never last this long and dad always picks me up first. So where is he? And are the twins fine? And do you think this message is pompous?”
I click send without hesitance, because mom needs to know my feelings about this. We’ve been trying to elude the anguish we just couldn’t avoid.
A few moments later, a faint ding erupts from my phone. Mom has replied:
“I am always thinking about Kaleb, and I know how you feel with all of the food poisoning garbage the police are talking about. But I can’t let him go, he’s my son.That would be like letting someone murder you and not try to make sure they got the blame.And yes, it is a pompous message, but I like it even though you didn’t use a lot of those words properly. Brayden, Rosie, and dad are fine. He just had to go to the daycare first so he could make it in time to the bake sale at the preschool. Kaleb used to love their goods so we go every year, you didn’t know?”
Relief floods me. They’re all fine and they’re getting bake sale stuff! I was so afraid, I almost leapt from my chair and danced when I learned they were all unharmed. A big, broad silhouette appeared at the door with a bag dangling at his hip and two giggling toddlers with their chubby little fingers curled around his free arm. I threw myself into Rosie’s outstretched arms and swung her around as she shrieked in delight. Brayden scowls at her attention and dad drops his bags to wrap his secure arms around my shoulder. “We were fine Sarah, I should’ve called”, my father explained in a benign voice. I pressed harder into him, his warmth pulsing around me, feeling its comfort. There’s one more thing I take solace in, and that thing is being with my family.
* = Editors' Choice work
Unless otherwise noted, all pictures used are open-source images in the public domain.