Bullies have always been an issue for Eli. When he was younger there was this kid, Mike. He used to call Eli names.
Those where some of the favorites. Mike never physically hurt him. But he still got on Eli's nerves.
Now me, being an ignorant 6 year old a the time, had no idea what was going on inside the twisted mind of my 9 year old brother. I didn't know that when he spent the night lock up in his room, claiming he was tired, he was actually planning revenge. I didn't know that when he asked me to help him collect worms from our backyard for a "science project", I was actually helping him in his quest for revenge.
A few days after Eli asked me to help him collect worms, rumors started spreading around my innocent elementary school. I heard bits and pieces of the rumor as girls whispered into each others ears. When it was my turn to know the rumor Sammy, the girl who sat next to me whispered into my ear
Some 4th grade boy had worms in his sandwich. He ate it and threw up all over Kim Foster.
And me, being the ignorant 6 year old, laughed and whispered the same into the ear of the girl who sat next to me.
I didn't know Eli had anything to do with the mishap that went on during 4th grade lunch, until I got home. Dad had picked me up that day, which was strange because my mom always picked me up from school. I asked my dad why my mother didn't pick me up and he said it was because she was having a long talk with my brother.
When my father and I walked into our house, I heard my mom yelling.
"Why would you do something like that Elijah! Worms? Michal could have some sort of disease!"
"He makes fun of me, mommy." Eli mumbled hopelessly.
"You should have told someone then! Don't fight fire with fire."
I gasped when I heard the conversation. My hands shot up into my mouth.
What happened in the lunch room today was all my brothers fault. And I helped him.
Now I should have seen the warning signs that Eli was having trouble with a bully again. He always seemed paranoid. Like someone was going to come out of no where and hurt him.
I didn't know much about Mark Fitzgerald. I knew his neighbor, Tiffany; she said he was a troubled kid. His parents had him at a young, they didn't stay together and now he lived in a small apartment with his mother.
I found out from Adam what he had done to Eli, Clare and him. He threw Adam into a glass door, ripped off Morty's hood ornament, and threatened the three of them more than once. I knew Eli was going to get revenge. He was never one to put up with a bully.
I moment Eli walked into the house with a bloody lip, I knew what happened.
Eli has fought fire with fire. Once again.
I hop off of the brink wall that's located outside of my middle school when I see Morty pull up to the sidewall. I ignore the questioning glances that my peer's shoot me as I walk towards my brother's hearse. I hate when people look at me; I don't like being the center on attention; it freaks me out.
I open the passenger side door of Morty and slide onto the leather bench, and then shut the door behind me. Dead Hand plays from Eli's radio. The music isn't as loud as usual.
He checks his review mirror before pulling back into the road. He drives without looking at me, without asking me about my day. Eli's silent, which scares me. He hasn't been this quiet in a long time. Since he's started going to Degrassi, old Eli returned. He makes sarcastic remarks like he used to. When he's playing video games with Adam, he laughs like he used to. He is Eli again. But as we sat here in complete silence, a feeling of nervousness washed over me. Was he falling back into his depression? Was he becoming that alcohol dependent person again? No. He wasn't. He promised me he would never again become that. But here we sat, not speaking. Like the ride home from the hospital, when Julia died.
"You okay?" I break the silence.
Eli runs his hand through his hair before bringing his hand back down to the steering wheel.
"I kissed her today." He states.
"Who?' I ask.
"Clare." Eli says as though it was the most obvious thing in the world. "Dawes gave us the whole English class today to work on our projects. Adam, Clare and I went to that park near Degrassi. And we kissed. Clare and I."
His right thumb begins to tap the steering wheel when he finishes speaking.
Devil Eli and Angel Eli are having an argument on his shoulders. Angel Eli says Clare's a nice girl. You have to let go. She can help, if you let her in. Devil Eli spats. You can't be with her, you don't deserve to. Remember Julia? You're girlfriend. You killed her.
Eli's stuck in the middle of the two, listening to their rants. He can't decide who to listen to. He can't decide if he wants to push Clare away or pull her in closer.
His thumb taps faster against the steering wheel.
Devil Eli won. He's going to push Clare away.
But I don't say anything. I let him make his own decision.
Eli hasn't spoken to anyone in three days. It's safe to say I'm worried.
I can hear him rummaging around in his room during the night. I can hear him moving around boxes and papers. He plays music throughout the night so that Bullfrog and Cece can't hear him crying. But I can hear him cry. All throughout the night I hear him cry. He hasn't slept in three days, I haven't either. Because when Eli doesn't sleep, I don't sleep.
I cake my face up with makeup in the morning, trying to disguise the obvious bags under my eyes. I don't want Cece and Bullfrog worrying about my sleep habits. They need to focus on Eli. They have to make Eli better, and then I'll be better.
He hasn't gone to school a lot the past three days. He goes in the morning, stays for a few periods and then leaves. I see Morty pass by the middle school every 4th period. He probably goes home and sits in his room. He probably plays loud music and cries. He probably buries his head in Julia's old sweater and asks her for forgiveness.
He started hoarding again. It started when Julia died. He never threw anything away. Everything some how connected Julia. His room…I can't even imagine what it might look it. But when he met Clare and Adam, he slowly started to let go. He threw out small things, like papers and rubber bands. But he was throwing stuff out nonetheless.
But ever since the day he kissed Clare, his hoarding picked up again.
"Anastasia, can you come in here for a second?" I heard my mom's voice coming from the kitchen. I set down my homework on the couch. I walked to the kitchen door and push it open.
My mother and father were sitting at the kitchen table. My father's hands were folded on the table in front of him. My mother clutched a white sheet of paper in between her hands. I knew what it was. It was my report card.
"You have two Fs, one in English and on in Math. What happened?" My mother runs a hand through her hair and looks up at me. I walk farther into the room and sit down at the table, across from my mom. I bite my bottom lip and shake my head.
"I don't know." I lie. I do know why I'm failing two classes. It's because of Eli. I'm so concerned about him that I can't concentrate on school. I think my brother's health is more important then a math test.
"Do you need a new tutor?" Mom asks.
"No, No Mrs. Scott is great, mom. I just…I don't know. My dyslexia is just…" I don't know what to say, I stumble upon my words. Mom nods her head. Her eyes wonder down the hall. They focus on Eli's bedroom door. She lets out a soft breath.
"I just need on stable child." Mom whispered.
A stable child. If she only knew.
Dad decided that mom needed to get some fresh air. He was going to take her for a walk in the park and then out to eat. I decided that I needed some air also, so a grabbed my jacket and made my way into the hallway.
"Where are you going?"
I look behind me and see Eli leaning against the wall next to his bedroom. He dressed in black sweatpants and a black sweatshirt. His hair is messy and his face looks tired. I bet that's what mine looks like under all the makeup.
"I'm going to the library." I say.
Eli nods and pushes himself off of the wall. He walks towards me and stuffs his hands into the pockets of his sweatshirt.
"I heard what mom and dad were talking about. You're failing two classes?" He asks.
I sigh and nod my head. "I guess I am."
"Why?" He asks.
"I don't know, Eli. I'm going now." I place a strand of my hair behind my ear before turning around. Eli reaches out and grabs my wrist. I feel a jolt of pain and a hiss falls from my lips.
Eli turns me back around. He holds my wrist in his right hand as his left slowly pushes up the sleeve of my sweatshirt. I watch as his eyes widen. I look down at my wrist.
The dark red cuts stand out against my pale white skin. I try to pull my hand away but Eli tightens his grip. His thumb runs up and down my wrist, tracing the outline of the deep cuts. I wince at the contact. Both of us are quiet, the air between us is still. The only thing I can hear is Eli's breathing. After awhile, Eli finally looks up at me. His eyes are cold.
"What are these?" His voice is harsh. I shut my eyes.
"They're nothing." I mumble. My eyes are still shut.
"They're nothing?" He says. "They're nothing." Eli repeats. He shakes his head. "You're hurting yourself. And you think it's nothing?"
I pull my wrist away from his hand. I pull my sweatshirt back down, covering my wrist.
"Just tell me why." He pushes his bangs out of his eyes and looks at me again.
"I…" I take a deep breath and meet his eyes. "I'm fourteen years old, Eli. I should be going on dates. I should be hanging out with my friends, if I had any. I should be having fun and being a normal fourteen year old. But I'm not a normal fourteen year old. Do you want to know why I'm failing two classes? It's because all I can think about his how my brother is destroying his life. All I can think about his how at any moment my brother can kill himself." My voice breaks and I let tiny tears stream down my face. "I-I shouldn't be worrying. I…I don't know what to do. I just…want you to get better. And sometimes, I just need to forget about everything. So I cut. You hoard, Eli. And I cut."
"Anastasia." His voice cracks.
He wants to help me. But he doesn't know how.
"I'm leaving." I whisper. I turn around and rush to the door. I push it open and walk outside.
When I came home that night I found a letter resting on my bed.
I told Clare about Julia. I didn't tell mom and dad about you. You can when you're ready
I toss the note on my desk and pull my sheets down. I lay down on my bed and for the first time in a week, I sleep.
The next few days were awkward between Eli and me. We tried our best to stay out of one another's way.
It was dinner time and my dad was talking about his radio show. He was asking my mom about a new band that she had heard of. I pushed around the leafy green substance that was on my plate. My mom enjoyed buying random cook books and cooking everything in the book. Right now she is working on a vegan cook book, which explains the gray blob that rests on the side of my plate.
Mom asks Eli how school was. Eli smiles and pushes up the sleeves on his black jacket as he reaches for his glass of water. He takes a sip of his water and places it back down. He starts talking about a dance that's coming up. Vegas Night. He's planning on asking Clare.
Mom smiles and tells him that she will help him pick out a tux. Eli smirks and tells her that Clare hasn't said yes yet. I was happy for him. Clare knew about Julia and she was alright with it. From what Eli told me, Clare sounded like a nice person. I hoped she is.
Mom stood up and picked up her and my dad's plate. She looked down at mine.
"You didn't eat anything." She said.
I wrinkled my nose. "I'm not a big gray blob fan." Dad laughed and mom rolled her eyes. She walked over to the kitchen sink and placed the plates in them. Dad picked up the cups and walked over to the sink and stood next to her as she washed the dishes.
Eli stood up and grabbed my plate, placing it on top of his. I scratched the back of my neck.
"Eli." I said.
He grabbed our silverware and put it on the plates. "Hmm" He mumbled.
"I'm going to tell then, about me, tonight." I said as I stood up.
Eli looked at me a soft smile spread across his face. He nodded his head.
"Okay." He said.
I turned around and shut my eyes. This was going to change everything. I felt a hand move onto on shoulder. "I right behind you." He said. He squeezed my shoulder.
He's my brother and he's there for me. Whenever I need him.