My brother and I have always been a team in everything, he’s always the good one, and I always do what he tells me. Some people get mad when they have to live in someone else’s shadow, but I don’t mind, its like following around Jesus, it’s an honor just to be there. We were doubles partners in tennis during high school, I made all the mistakes, and he won all the points. The best day of our tennis career was when he tore all the tendons in his elbow and couldn’t swing the racket. They tried to stop the match but he said he could play left handed. He pulled me aside and said, “my elbow’s screwed. I’m going to stand in the corner and stay out of your way, win it for us.” I did. How could I not, he needed me for once. I swear if he had said, “fly to the moon” I would have asked him how many rocks he wanted me to bring back. That was the last match we ever played together, it was kind of a shame really, I got out from under his shadow, and he never got the chance to bring me back. I felt exposed, like I had gotten a bad sunburn and had nothing to put on it. I quit soon after that too, it didn’t seem right with him unable to play.
After we graduated he left. He went across the great ocean to study English and philosophy at Oxford. I couldn’t get in, I certainly tried though. It was the first time in our lives that we had been apart, I didn’t handle it well. I decided to stay at home for a year, get my bearings straight before I went off on my own. My brother called me all the time and told me of his adventures. He was re-creating the life of the bard, miles from where he once lived. Man I wish I could have been there. I wish I could have been there because maybe if I had he would still be alive, maybe he would still be writing and climbing the way he always had. I remember the superintendent called the house when the dorm burned down, he didn’t know who had been hurt or who was dead or much of anything. All he said was, “call the front desk at this number and use his room address to locate him.” My mom called in a panic, and was crying so hysterically that my dad had to take the phone from her. It was probably the worst night of my life, all of my brother’s wild adventures and great accomplishments reduced to ash, sitting there for the sun to bake. My dad called the front desk of the dorm pleading for any news of my brother. She couldn’t find him on the list of found people, living or dead, so she asked him what his room address was. My dad told her, but the phone connection had started to break-up. I will never be haunted more in my life than by the sound of my father shrieking into the phone “Hello? HELLO? Is ox13 there? Hello?”