Live Dangerously | Teen Ink

Live Dangerously MAG

January 17, 2008
By Stephanie Thiebold, Turlock, CA

It’s funny, but sometimes I’ll close my eyes and stretch my arms and just lean back, stretch my body everywhere from my fingers to the tips of my toes, and take a really deep breath.

It chokes somewhere in my chest before it makes it to my lungs like it can’t quite seem to make the effort to get that far.

That’s how I feel lately.

I know he’s gone; I’m not an idiot.

But sometimes it’s easier to pretend he’s still here. Like I’ll wake up in the morning and he’ll be there at the counter waiting for me, so we can eat our Cheerios together and talk about nothing.

He was my brother, you know. My brother.

He had brown hair, usually messy from where it rubbed up against his favorite baseball cap. I can’t remember what team it was. It’s so weird the things you forget.

It wasn’t him, at the funeral. They had this other boy, lying in a wooden box, looking like a wax figure. His hair was gelled. I could see very faint tracks where the comb had glided through, carefully parting his chestnut locks. Brandon hated combing his hair, dressing up. If we had seen that guy in the casket at a baseball game or in the hallways at school, he would have laughed and asked where his mother had bought him the suit. That was my brother. My big brother.

Only a year older, but it didn’t feel like anything. We were best friends, deep down – not all the time, but underneath everything I knew him like I knew the shape of my neck or the color of my hair.

The funeral was a dream, not even a nightmare ­because it really wasn’t that memorable. I kept thinking I should be crying or convulsing or yelling or something, but all I could feel was the same raw ache that wasn’t at all out of the ordinary. Not since that night. It’s amazing what you can get used to. Everyone else was crying, but I couldn’t feel any emotion for them either. It all felt like a soap opera, just some cheesy half hour sitcom you watch when you’re supposed to be doing your homework. Suddenly a very strange thought ran through my head, a line out of a historical romance novel an English teacher would make you read.

Hobbled by my misconceptions …

I knew what it meant. But I didn’t know where it came from. It kept running through my brain, like a line from a song I couldn’t get out of my head, over and over and over …

Hobbled by my misconceptions …

And without really thinking, I’m walking faster and faster away from Wax Boy and sobbing Aunt Martha in her lavender suit, away from all the stupid flowers Brandon would have hated and Mother crying with her head on Daddy’s lap. Brandon, you are so lucky to get out of this, I think. It’s sick. I’m sick. But I don’t even care. I have something strange running through my blood. I need to get out!

People are staring with that stupid gossipy faux-sympathy look.

“They say it may have been suicide, you know …”

“Oh, the poor dear …”

“Is that Chelsea running?”

People are staring now, and I find that yes, I am running. I run past the ushers, through the door, into the big bright universe, and it blinds my hard cold eyes.

I get down on my knees and sit for a while on the cement outside the church, arms twined around legs, breathing hard, gasping really. I look at the sky and it’s so big and suddenly that’s all there is. People are walking past and patting my shoulder, kneeling sometimes but not knowing what to say. The sky makes me dizzy, spinning out for all eternity and never ever ending, and I’m just a speck, a piece of gum someone flicked off their shoe, sticking to the sidewalk forever.

Are you there, Brandon? Have you ever felt this small? I look for him up in the sky, for a sign that he’s watching. A storm cloud maybe, or a violent and sudden outpouring of rain. Something big, bigger than this stupid, tacky funeral and all the mascara marks tracked down the cheeks of my female relatives. It’s a hopeless feeling. Why am I here, Brandon? Are you happier now, wherever you are?

“Chelsea?” It’s one of the ushers. A brave boy, tall and uncomfortable looking. I know him from Brandon’s baseball team. I had a crush on him for a little while. Middle school stuff. “Are you okay?” His eyebrows knit together in clichéd concern.

“No, leave me alone, okay?” I don’t want him here. I don’t want anyone to see me so weak. I’m angry, suddenly, incredibly pissed off at anyone who saw me break down. Brandon would have … I don’t even care. I’m not going to care. I feel like just another dramatic idiot making a scene.

“Leave me alone.” I glare, keeping my chin up. Looking down on him from three feet below. The usher looks scared. Good.

I get up and walk off without looking back, not bothering to wipe the dust from my black skirt. I hate black. I hate everything that goes along with this place, with this macabre show of affection for some dummy in a casket. My brother isn’t here. I don’t care what everyone else thinks. He’s not.

I slip past the mourners back into the church, walking into the main sanctuary, sitting next to my mother and father. Daddy looks like ice, automatically patting my mother’s shoulder as she cries big, heaving sobs into his only good suit. His face is troubled, gazing past the shrine of Brandon to an empty wall.

“Daddy?” Are you in there, Daddy? He doesn’t look back.

“Chelsea … get a ride home. We can’t leave yet … We’ll meet you later, at the wake. Make sure everything’s set up, okay?” He kisses me on the forehead, his mind wandering somewhere I can’t go. “Get the appetizers out, ask Aunt Ida to pick up the ice …” He’s saying these things, but they aren’t sentences, they’re thoughts spoken out loud, directed toward me. Daddy?

“Okay.” I walk back out to the parking lot and wait patiently by Aunt Ida as she talks to her friend, wait for a gap so I can deliver the news about the ice, ask to go home early to get the house ready.

I’m watching myself. I can see exactly how I would look if this were a movie I was watching: I would be crying on the couch by now, wearing old sweatpants and scarfing down popcorn, watching a pale, tired-looking girl go crazy after her brother’s untimely death. I close my eyes. If I count to 10 and open them, everything will be back to normal. Brandon will be standing next to me cracking his knuckles and talking about this sick new band he heard on the Internet … One. Two. Three. Four. Five.

“Chelsea, honey? Are you all right?” Six. Seven. Eight. Nine. Ten. I open my eyes. I see Aunt Ida and her friend gazing at me with concern. Aunt Ida’s purple eye shadow is creased. Disappointment settles in my gut. For the first time, I feel like I might cry.

“I’m fine. I need a ride home now so I can get the house ready for the wake. Daddy wanted me to remind you to pick up ice.” I sound like a little girl, a well-raised little girl. A cold breeze brushes my cheek and I hug my arms, bracing against it.

“Right, right.” She pats my shoulder. “Just get in the car. We’ll leave in a minute, sweetheart.” Pet names. I’ve never been called sweetheart, honey, babe, or darlin’ so many times in my life. Funerals bring out the worst in people.

I trudge to her ugly little forest green car and slip into the front seat. I don’t fasten my seat belt. Living dangerously now.

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This article has 83 comments.

on Oct. 1 2012 at 9:23 pm
LaurenDomagas SILVER, Pleasanton, California
5 articles 0 photos 2 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Dreams are today's answers to tomorrow's questions."
-Edgar Cayce

I favorited this story before I even finished reading it. Wow, I really love how you really got into what Chelsea was thinking and how you didn't really get too caught up in the action of the story. I think adding the meaning of the title at the end was a very nice touch. I don't know why, but that just felt like icing on the cake.

GotSoccer19 said...
on Sep. 9 2012 at 8:43 pm
GotSoccer19, Dallas, Texas
0 articles 0 photos 24 comments

Favorite Quote:
"A real athlete knows that there's no off-season."

That was one of the best works of writing I have seen in a long time. Legit. Incredible. I'm with you on the whole "funeral-mourning-sucks" kind of stuff.  Fabulous! --C

GotSoccer19 said...
on Sep. 9 2012 at 8:43 pm
GotSoccer19, Dallas, Texas
0 articles 0 photos 24 comments

Favorite Quote:
"A real athlete knows that there's no off-season."

That was one of the best works of writing I have seen in a long time. Legit. Incredible. I'm with you on the whole "funeral-mourning-sucks" kind of stuff.  Fabulous! --C

Hilidan SILVER said...
on Feb. 2 2012 at 6:24 am
Hilidan SILVER, Istanbul, Other
5 articles 0 photos 52 comments
Wow!Such a touching work.You wrote it well and keep writing.!!

on Dec. 20 2011 at 8:26 am
whaaaaat BRONZE, Gone, Other
1 article 0 photos 4 comments
This touched my heart. So amazing. I loved the little details and how you described what she thought about. Did you write this from experience?

ChantelleK. said...
on Nov. 10 2011 at 3:44 pm
ChantelleK., Toronto, Other
0 articles 0 photos 21 comments
I love this piece. It was so wonderfully written that it made me cry.

on Nov. 6 2011 at 6:07 pm
bloodysouls GOLD, Nevada, Other
11 articles 0 photos 7 comments

Favorite Quote:
the dawn the death the fight to the final breath


on Nov. 6 2011 at 7:34 am
LifesIllusion BRONZE, Cicero, Indiana
4 articles 0 photos 127 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Don't let your fears slow you down. Instead, chase them down and beat them."

I really lovd this story. It's very sad but it sounded so realistic. Good job.

on Sep. 23 2011 at 8:20 pm
Anonymous_7 SILVER, Branson, Missouri
6 articles 0 photos 119 comments

Favorite Quote:
-The only time you can get away with murder is when writing a book!

This is very sad, but well written. Keep writing!


Phia15 BRONZE said...
on Sep. 1 2011 at 12:49 pm
Phia15 BRONZE, Wisconsin
2 articles 0 photos 1 comment
Beautiful. Very sad, but beautifully written.

TAR11 SILVER said...
on Jul. 19 2011 at 6:40 am
TAR11 SILVER, Allison Park, Pennsylvania
7 articles 0 photos 51 comments
Cool story please check mine out if you get the chance. 

on Jun. 27 2011 at 10:38 pm
AlyssaFama SILVER, Kunkletown, Pennsylvania
5 articles 0 photos 60 comments

Favorite Quote:
Most people want to be the sun that brightens your day. I'd rather be the moon that shines down on you in your darkest hour.

this was wonderful. it feels almost like you, the writer, was the one who went through this. great job.

on Sep. 14 2010 at 11:16 pm
RavenBird SILVER, Battle Ground, Washington
7 articles 3 photos 36 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Sometimes the hardest thing and the right thing are the same" ~The Fray "All at once"
"I am who I am and who i wanna be" ~Avril Lavigne

Oh wow. Tears...actually...welled up in my eyes. Beautiful

on Sep. 14 2010 at 5:47 pm
SoulxFinder BRONZE, Cobourg, Other
3 articles 0 photos 15 comments

Favorite Quote:
The death of a beautiful woman, is unquestionably the most poetical topic in the world. - Edgar Allan Poe

Beautifully written and very thoughtful. All emotions are in depth. I favourited it.

inspir3d GOLD said...
on Jul. 30 2010 at 1:23 pm
inspir3d GOLD, Norcross, Georgia
11 articles 2 photos 73 comments

Favorite Quote:
We're all just looking for attention, to be discovered overnight. We're all frustrated by the popular ones that claim the limelight before they fall to pieces. So many of us are stuck under the radar--what makes me different? You decide!


saying "i can really feel the emotion in this" is so cliche, but it's so true. i've read few things this moving. keep it up!!

p.s if this is a true story i am so sorry.

LastChapter said...
on Jul. 30 2010 at 12:48 am
LastChapter, Hempstead, New York
0 articles 0 photos 215 comments

Favorite Quote:
(couldn't think of anything better at the time) "Take the first step in faith. You don't have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step."-Dr.Martin Luther King Jr.

 I loved this! funerals are supposed to be the time when the family can let go, cry at peace. its supposed to make them feel BETTER. i never thought of funerals in this way before. it was very interesting. almost as if its some kind of show the family puts on for the neighbors and distant relatives, to prove the dead was worth crying for.

on Jul. 11 2010 at 9:19 pm
i_am_nobody SILVER, Belgrade, Montana
7 articles 0 photos 85 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Be yourself, don't take anyone's sh*t, and never let them take you alive." -Gerard Way

i really like this, even tho it reminded me a lot of my cousin's funeral. i hate funerals so this story was very relatable

on Jun. 16 2010 at 8:13 pm
pinkypromise23 PLATINUM, Cranston, Rhode Island
30 articles 0 photos 414 comments

Favorite Quote:
i know that you believe you understand what you think i said, but im not sure you realize that what you heard is not what i meant. good! please continue this!

a.m.f BRONZE said...
on Jun. 16 2010 at 2:43 pm
a.m.f BRONZE, Gainesville, Florida
3 articles 12 photos 97 comments

Favorite Quote:
"God never shuts a door unless he opens another."

Nice! Please check out my story, Scratching Stones if you have time.  Thank you!

Phooh BRONZE said...
on May. 25 2010 at 6:34 pm
Phooh BRONZE, Bryant, Arkansas
2 articles 0 photos 7 comments

Favorite Quote:
You only live once, if your do it right once is enough!

This is a beautifuly stunning piece. It leaves no room for confusion all the lose ends are tied together nicely. The dialoge of this piece i really enjoyed at parts its very chopy almost as if she's seing snipits of life going by. I realy love this piece. Congrats, and keep writing. :)