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I was so scared that day. I couldn’t sleep that night. I had barfed into the old fashioned toilet bowl at Mrs. Durham’s at five in the morning. It had been almost a relief to the stress.
I wasn’t any more or less nervous on the car ride in the back of the taxi. We, Mrs. Durham and I, sat in back on the way to the court house. Were it would be made official that I legally belong to my brothers. Aragorn and Philemon. My brothers.
I traced the rain drops on the car window with my finger tips. I had felt like the world was crying for me. I sucked in my breath nervously. I had the horrible sensation I was going to throw up again. Even though I hadn’t had any breakfast. I tried to watch the passing buildings from the back seat of the taxi. Mrs. Durham put a hand on my knee. I flinched. “It will be ok Halo. I promise. If their you're mother's sons, they must be nice.” I swallowed hard. Mrs. Durham, a widow, was the only person I knew I could trust with anything. However I didn’t fully believe her. They weren’t even really raised by Mother. What she had said hadn’t been reassuring. I realized it wouldn’t have been reassuring if they had been…
I had been surprised mother hadn’t left me to Mrs. Durham. She had been mother’s only real friend. In her early 60s, Mrs. Durham had been our neighbor ever since I could remember. I, who did my school on the internet…would go for months without leaving the house. Mrs. Durham was really my only interaction with society or other human beings. I remember one time Mrs. Durham and mother were the only people I saw in six months. Until mother had been forced to take me out of the house for an eye exam. Then I was back into the house for another four months. That had been a long year.
Nevertheless I had been even more surprised to find I had brothers. I had always believed my mother was crazy. She often went about the house muttering weird and strange things I knew nothing about. She often talked about two little boys she wished would come back. I never once thought that it could have been my own brothers. I knew my mother had been married a long time ago, how long I didn’t know. Then again I had known almost next to nothing about my father. I only knew that he had moved far away and that was that. Mother had never said a word other then the mutterings about the other children. “Why did he leave? And why did he take “Those two” with him? Why did mother never get to talk to them again?” Were the questions that went over and over in my mind. If I had thought about it I knew I would find the answer. I was doing very little thinking at the moment though.
It was as if I was half dead. I was going through my movements as if in a dream. I had never been out of the house that long. I hadn’t returned since Mrs. Durham had rushed over there to take me to the hospital. “Why?” I had said. “Your mother has been admitted” was the short reply and nothing else was said for hours. My mother died five minutes after I was lead into her room. Five minutes. Five minutes was all. Only five minutes to look at the women who gave birth to me.
The scariest thing was I couldn’t force myself to cry. I had cried one lonely tear on the way to hospital. Not since. I felt zoned out. Like I wasn’t even in my body. I had known Mrs. Durham was afraid I was in shock. I knew I was. I had read enough books to know when a person was in shock.
“Who are they?” I asked suddenly. Not taking my eyes off of the window. “Who?” “Those two. The two” “Your brothers? Well….their you’re brothers.” “What are their names? What do they look like?” I asked. Still not moving. Mrs. Durham sighed. I heard the ruffling of papers. I had asked Mrs. Durham to read me those papers countless times. “Their names are Aragorn and Philemon. That is all it really tells you dear.” “Why?” I whispered. I had asked that question a lot. “Dear, as I told you five minutes ago they haven’t been to Ohio since they left. The other information is medical information from when they were little. Do you want me to read to you what they were like when they were little?” Mrs. Durham asked gently, again. And I shook my head… again. I glanced away from the window for a brief second. “I want to know what their like now.” I muttered. “Well I am sorry dear but I’ve never met them.”
I didn’t have to say what was on my mind. “But you knew about them” no one had told me that was so. But I knew it to be true. It was obvious to me. Mrs. Durham and mother, why had they never told me? Why? Why should I have to learn this now when I have to go live with them? Why?
We pulled up in front of the court house. I gasped. They were in there, my brothers. Those two. The two. The two my mother always spoke of. The two my mother had loved. The two instead of me. I was going to meet the two. I felt myself sink lower into my own shock. Mrs. Durham gave my hand a tight squeeze with her sweaty palms.
The taxi driver coughed. We had been sitting there for several minutes. Mrs. Durham tried to catch my eye. “Dear” she said softly. “We have to go in now” another minute went by. I nodded slowly. I reached for the door handle. The sound of the rain hitting the stone steps. I fiddled with the umbrella handle and began to march up the steps. Mrs. Durham called after me. But I refused to slow. I felt that if I slowed at all, I would stop and turn around and run like baby.
I went through the big circle push doors. The thump, thump of the doors matched the rhythm of my heart beat. I stepped into the big marble hall, my breathing echoed throughout the empty grand hall. My shoes made a clip clop echo as I took a few hesitant steps. Silence. Terrifying silence. I could hear it whispering out at me. I took a few more steps. My eyes traveled around the hall. I wet my chapped lips. I jumped when I saw someone. I almost smiled when I realized it was a mirror. Almost, but not quite. I made a movement towards it. I saw my big scared brown eyes, and my wet matted hair. I really did looked pathetic. A girl who would receive pity. A girl who would be looked down upon. A girl without a choice. A girl… a girl without a mother. Hopelessness swelled from somewhere within me. At least I felt something again.
A sob found its way into my throat. I hic-upped. “Ready?” A voice said softly. I turned. Mrs. Durham stood there soaking wet. Yet she looked better than me. The dripping of the water off her black coat was the only sound. I turned my head slightly; no it wasn’t the only sound. I heard voices coming from a room down the hall. Mrs. Durham inclined her silver head. “Are you ready?” I nodded yes while my voice cracked a; “No”. Mrs. Durham just looked at me sadly. I held out my shaking pale white hand. Mrs. Durham crossed the room to the center. And took my fingers, giving them another helpful squeeze. “Be brave” she said. I took a deep breath.
“Moral excellence comes about as a result of habit. We become just by doing just acts, temperate by doing temperate acts, brave by doing brave acts.” I breathed. Mrs. Durham smiled hesitantly.
“Aristotle” I whispered, looking at the polished gold floor. Mrs. Durham chuckled softly. “That’s my girl.” She said giving me a look that was the equivalent of a thumbs up.
I squared my shoulders, let go of Mrs. Durham’s hand, and marched across the room to the big carved oak doors. “Help me” I whispered. Taking both hands, I pushed and the doors creaked opened.