A tiny voice asked, “Is he the one?”
Crash. Sitting up fast, making myself dizzy, I looked around the room I shared with my older brother. Dragging my body into the bathroom to get ready for the day, I washed my face first. A pale skinned, black haired boy looked back at me in the mirror, he had noticeable bags under his eyes and his once happy green eyes were now dull and emotionless. I´d be scared about how much the reflection had changed so quickly, if it wasn’t a normal occurring thing in such a place. The normal morning routine went by as fast as a light year, or so it seemed. Pushing and shoving was also a common part of said normal routine, however, it seemed rougher today. Crack. The breaking bone sound rang loud in my ears as I collided with a nearby concrete wall, hard and fast. The pain was no bother and got ignored as laughter replaced the cracking sound. Kids moved passed kids, the smaller ones getting trampled and pushed by the taller and bigger ones. No one payed much attention to those getting hurt, however, it was a naturally occurring thing in the place I call hell.
Chatter bustled through the under-sized cafeteria as conversations were heard and spoken between friends and siblings. Too loud in my opinion. Eating slowly, taking my time, I blocked out as much chatter as possible. Not wanting to bother my brother or take him from his friends, I sat alone as always.
Finishing what they dare call food, the cafe had already calmed down quite a bit some time ago, my brother had left when most others did. We used to be quite close, but since they had come, we grew apart. Sitting in our musty, dirty, cramped, shared room, reading a book, the world was blocked out.
Letting the water wash over my face, realization hit me hard. The orphanage has been getting much worse since when Artie and I first arrived here, being only six at the time, I remember more things about then than Artie does. Being as he was only three, he doesn't remember anything from then really, maybe snip-its but nothing vivid. The orphanage used to have some form light and happiness even if it was never overwhelmingly so. Now the atmosphere it held was only a dark one. So dark it made even the most desperate of people turn and run away. My daily life at the orphanage was usually quite dull excluding the times I got so spent with my three best friends. We pull pranks on the usually mean kids and help out the staff, I'd say it isn't too bad if it wasn't for the way it was making Artie.
Even though we were quite young at the time, still ripe ages to get adopted us, no one had. Not a single couple or person had even shown any interest in us. Maybe it was how or the reason our parents had died or maybe we just weren't their definition of perfect to fit into their lives, I have no clue. I had asked one of the nicer staff members why this was and she only shrugged and filled my brother and me with false hopes and dreams of having a family again. Artie and I used to be inseparable, even to the point where we took all of our baths together, yet we still grew slowly apart. To the point where we don't even so much as look at each other anymore. The younger brother who used to look at me with admiration and love won't even glance my way anymore and to tell the truth, it hurts. It hurts so bad that I can't even breath when I remember this fact, it leaves my mouth with the burning sensation to scream and cry. I want to, but that won't help change the fact that we've grown apart. I know he's bullied constantly and is always shoved into things, yet I can never bring myself to help. To stand up for him. I know I should, he's my brother, but I have my own bullies to deal with and my own demons. I mean, being in love with one of your best friends and one of the smartest in your age group isn't all puppies and rainbows. I wish he'd find some friends to get along with so I wouldn't have to feel so guilty all of the time. I know that it wouldn't ease it much, it's just, I want to not think about it all of the time, you know? Maybe if I hadn't become friends with Tyler, Devon, and Kyle then Artie and I would still be as close as we once had been, but I did become friends with them. They are so much of my life now that I couldn't just leave them. I depend on them as much as they depend on me. As much as Artie used to depend on me. Life isn't fair, but if anyone deserves an easy ticket, it's Artie. He's so much kinder and friendlier than people give him credit for. He deserves love and friends as much as the next person. This orphanage along with my short temper and always wanting to be adored has taken that away from him. When we were younger and there were people here looking for children, I would beg them to adopt us with all of my heart. I had even offered for them to just take my brother so many times to the people looking for only one child. They always had a look of pity and would say the same thing as the last, "I can't split up to siblings, it's not right." I would scream at them that it didn't matter if we were together, just that he got a family. As the years went by, I'd ask less and less. I realize now that the reason for this was because I wanted Artie to continue to admire me and only me. At the time, he was the only person I cared about, even more than myself. I can't even fathom how it all went wrong.
Stepping out of the tub, finishing my mid-day shower, the air coming through the window felt quite nice. Once dressed, and combing my curly, black hair, I noticed slight darkness under my gray eyes from constantly staying up passed curfew to chat with my friends. It made my mind go to my brother and how sad and empty he looked now-a-days. Inhaling deeply, yet exhaling shakily, I stepped out of the bathroom. Giving a short, longing look at my younger brother, Artie, and shaking my head, the only thing on my mind was how much I fail at protecting him. Leaving with my friends, the day went on as usual.
Soon the lunch bell rang in my ears but it seemed distant and, eventually, it was the same for the dinner bell. However, I never even made any effort to get up, I just kept my eyes on my book. A book filled with many magnificent adventures that I admired and wished were truly happening for me. Anything to get away from the orphanage and all of the pain that came with it. I had been too young to realize what had happened when my parents died or why. In fact, too young to even understand the concept of death or anything else really. However, Archie carried the weight of knowing and understanding. Most would say they felt sorry for him but also for me because I never knew them, but I didn’t feel much of anything on the subject. Not much towards our parents, their deaths, or even my brother who I had once looked to for guidance and support. Going to set my book back where it belonged, it slammed hard onto my foot, yet I didn’t scream or even wince in pain. Internally sighing, I scolded myself for being so clumsy yet again. The book had suffered quite a bit of damage over the years I had owned it since I never seemed to do anything right. Stretching, yet being careful of where I had broken earlier, the warning bell for curfew rang through the orphanage.
The same, distant, boy from earlier starred back at me as I brushed my teeth. I always forced myself to look at said boy to remind myself of many different things. The most prominent thing, however, was my absolute hatred for the boy.
However dirty and uncomfortable, my bed looked inviting. The moment the covers surrounded me, I was out. ‘If only I could stay here forever.’
I awoke to a tiny voice that asked, “Is he the one?” Shooting up in my bed, almost falling off again, my sleepy eyes darted across the room. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary and my brother wasn’t present, so I deemed it to be of my imagination. ‘Who would even have such a voice anyways?’ Laying back down, sleep soon seemed to take over me.
Yet, minutes later, the tiny voice was heard again. Thinking nothing of it anymore, it was ignored. Suddenly, there were multiple voices. Voices that got louder as they got closer. ‘I’m going insane...’ However, that thought wouldn’t save me from hearing the voices that I had no intention to hear. They got louder and more confusing the longer I tried to ignore them.
Light shone through the window of the room waking me from the sleep I hadn’t known I got. Being comfortable in my bed for once, my decision to stay in bed was made right away without any other thought. Even when someone had tried their hardest to get me out of bed, I didn’t even move my head. This was the only thing I was content in doing even if my stomach growled from lack of food.
Opening my eyes, the room was dark now and it seemed past curfew. Sitting up, taking a look around the room, my brother’s snores could be heard silently on the bed next to mine. Having not realizing I had fallen asleep, I was quite disoriented. Rubbing the sleep from my eyes, they were more focused and I could see distant light like orbs in the far distance, but dismissed it. Leaning a bit too much towards my right side, my face smacked hard against the floor. Pushing off the floor, I make my way to the bathroom.
Pulling my soaking wet head out of the sink, my hands found their way to the towel and started drying off. Dabbing my face, my eyes were met with reflected green ones again. Even after getting a lot of the sleep, the boy’s face looked more tired than ever. Scowling at the reflection of a boy, my mind turned to even darker things.
You’re worthless. Coward. Wimp. Stupid. Unloved. Useless. Unlovable. Damned. Helpless. Undeserving. Just die already.
Holding my head in my hand, I sank to the floor and brought my knees to my chest. Crying, the thoughts- no voices- only got worse.
Why are you still living? Nobody cares about you, especially not your so-called ‘brother.’ Why do you still care about him? You don’t deserve love, you never have. If your parents weren’t dead, they’d probably think the same as Archie does. That You. Are. Worthless. You don’t deserve to be cared for and you certainly don’t deserve happiness. Such things are only given to those who aren’t such screw-ups. Why won’t you just die?!
I felt myself screaming my lungs out, they hurt so bad, but I couldn’t hear what I was saying. I couldn’t hear anything besides the voices. I couldn’t even remember where I was. Is this real life? ‘What did I do to deserve this?’ Sniffling, the voices seemed to stop suddenly. Looking up, Archie could be seen kneeling in front of me. He seemed worried.
“-tie! Artie! Are you okay, Artie?” Worry seemed to seep from his words, but I wasn’t going to just believe he cared all of a sudden. Rubbing my eyes and nose, my head moved up and down in a nodding motion, not trusting my own words.
Opening the bathroom door, I entered to find Artie in the corner of the small room. His face was in his hands as he screamed, some of it was just sound but the rest was words that weren't even coherent. It was this that had woken me from my dream and alerted me to the fact that he wasn't in bed. Artie looked so small and beaten curled in front of me. I couldn’t fathom what was wrong with him, but whatever was wrong worried me. Especially at the thought that it was all my fault. ‘I should have protected him. I should have looked out for him. I-I should have been the older brother he deserved.’ I reached my arm up to shake him out of it.
“Artie! Artie! Are you okay, Artie?” I could see the tiredness and disbelief in his eyes. He nodded, obviously not trusting his own words. I pulled him close to me in a tight hug, but not too tight as to hurt his breathing.
‘I promise to protect you, Artie, from now on.’
The days after seemed longer. The orphanage staff didn’t seem to believe there was something seriously wrong with Artie. He was scared into denial of something else being different about him. I felt that he was still the younger brother who used to adore me, he just needed to get some help. Once they finally got him a therapist, the news was shocking.
Over the years, I’ve had many different scenarios like that. Eventually, Archie finally pushed me and the orphanage staff to get help. After a few therapist sessions, I was diagnosed with Schizophrenia. It’s been quite a roller coaster ride, to be honest. I can’t seem to understand why Archie has stuck by me through all of this, but I know now he truly cares about me. Even if the voices try to convince me otherwise. Once leaving the orphanage for good when Archie was 18 and I was 16, we moved into an apartment together. Archie has two jobs seeing as the schizophrenia keeps me from working. A big help is Archie and the fact we are as close as we were in the past before the orphanage changed us for the worst. I still look at the reflection of a boy with hatred, but the loathing isn’t as bad and I can stand him a little bit. I, however, never understood the meaning of the tiny voice’s question, “Is he the one?” In fact, it’s been years since I’ve heard that specific voice. The world seemed to be looking a little brighter and the future a bit more hopeful.
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