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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Illustrate the meaning of ďA Stitch in Time Saves NineĒ (without using the actual phrase or literal example). (01/03/08)

TITLE: My Brother's Keeper
By Amy Michelle Wiley


Seems a backwards thing to have the fate of your older brother on your conscience. The truth is, my brother chose his own path. But the fact remains that I couldíve stopped it. I couldíve said something, told someone.

Perhaps it wouldnít have helped. Perhaps it would have made things worse. But itís sure it would have changed the course of events.

Thereís no use fretting over things that canít be changed. I know that, but still that night goes over in my head like a kid going over his part the night before a speech. I think of all the ways I could have changed things, and what that might have lead to. I follow the dominos and make up stories with happy endings, stories where things remain like they always had been, or get even better.

If youídíve asked me, I would have told you that my brother and I were best of friends, as tight knit as Mumís stitchery. In retrospect I realize it was one-sided. I adored Michael: he was the world to me. He was everything I wasnít allowed to be. Everything I didnít dare to be. He knew it, too--took full advantage of it.

I canít say that night was the first time I realized he wasnít so wonderful, that there were kinks in my brotherís armour. Certainly it was the first time it slapped me in the face, so I couldnít ignore it, couldnít make it into something else.

The moon was shining full, and maybe thatís what did it. At any rate, I could see them full on, my brother and his friends. I heard them too, their voices carrying on the breeze that came across the moor. The night was warm, but what I heard made me cold through to my gut. It was a cold that didnít thaw, left a sliver of icicle through to this day.

So I watched them that night, and didnít say a word as they carried Daís gasoline can out the gate. I didnít say a word the next morningí neither, when the newspapers were full of the story of the old factory burned down, right to the ground.

That was only the start of it. My brother was home less and less, and one night he didnít come home at all. My mum was crying when I got up that morning. This time the news of another fire held stronger consequences. Serious consequences.

A homeless man was in the hospital with severe burns.

Somehow Mum and Da knew. I saw it in their faces, in the way Mum pleaded with me when he still hadnít come home. ďIf ya know somethingí, Sean, you gotta tell me. Ya gotta understand, this is only gonna get worse. He--heíll do something worse. If you love him, you gotta help him.Ē

But this time I didnít know. I didnít know where he was or when heíd left. Or if he was ever coming back.

The weeks dragged on. My brother was gone. Yet he wasnít. He was always there as a nagging guilt in the back of my mind. As a gaping absence in my heart.

Then one day I saw him, across the town square with a group of his ever-present friends, if such a group could be called friends. For a moment I froze, torn between a desire to run to him, and to run from him.

He saw me and, with a nonchalance that surprised me, sauntered over and jabbed me in the shoulder as heíd always done. He chatted about nothing, as though nothing had happened, and I felt once more grasped in the power of a big brother.

As he turned to go, his eyes caught mine with a glint of steel. ďYouíll not tell ya saw me. Youíll do that for your bro?Ē

I saw something different in his eyes, a hardness that had grown over the last weeks. I saw also my mumís eyes, pleading and tearful.

I knew then what I would do for my bro. This time I would speak up. This time I would change the world.

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This article has been read 1632 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Laury Hubrich 01/10/08
Wow! I got chills from reading this. I immediately was in this MC's mind and could feel his pain of watching his brother fall. You illustrate the saying in two ways, through both brothers. One for keeping a secret and things getting worse and worse until he decides to tell his mum and the other by falling in with a bad crowd and growing worse every day. Very good!
Lynda Schultz 01/10/08
Excellent writing. This kept me hanging on until the endówish I knew how it turned out (hint, hint!).
LaNaye Perkins01/10/08
Your story held me captive until the very last word. This was very gripping. Great writing.
Rita Garcia01/11/08
You capture my attention and held on tight, at the end a tear fell down my face.
Joanne Sher 01/12/08
Very compelling with excellent descriptions. You captured the younger brother's inner turmoil masterfully.
Sharlyn Guthrie01/12/08
I was drawn into the story by the MC's voice, but you kept me involved through the last word. Excellent writing.
Catrina Bradley 01/12/08
Great job with the topic. You really captured the little brothers adoration of his older brother, and his heart breaking decision, at last. Perfect title.
Verna Cole Mitchell 01/13/08
Your very poignant story is written with a masterful touch.
Loren T. Lowery01/14/08
Such decisions are not easy and your writing revealed this with eloquence. If only are two little words that constantly tug at us all. Great writing.
Hanne Moon 01/14/08
The jumble of emotions and the difficult decision this boy faced is so evident in the writing. You done a beautiful job with this!
LauraLee Shaw01/14/08
Chilling story that enthralled me. It broke my heart.
Holly Westefeld01/14/08
Snitches may get stitches, but you illustrate so vividly that the price of not snitching may be higher still. A good story for youth.
Jan Ackerson 01/14/08
Marvelous voice, Amy!
Temple Miller01/14/08
This entry was so well written that it flew by and I wanted to hear more of the story. Terrific descriptions laid gripping emotions out so that they were difficult to read. You really captured the angst of the family. Good message.
Yvonne Blake 01/15/08
Right on topic!
It might have been stronger if you started with the action instead of explanation.
Good writing.
Karen Wilber01/15/08
Wow - this is fantastic. Chilling - with your descriptions from the younger brother's POV. I found myself holding my breath.
terri tiffany01/17/08
Excellent writing! I loved the voice and descriptions!
Rita Garcia01/17/08
Congratulations, Amy!!! :)))
Beckie Stewart01/17/08
Powerful message here! So often we will run and hide, not wanting to be involved. It is the courageous that does what is right for the better and not the "one".
Angela M. Baker-Bridge01/17/08
Congratulations on an excellent piece!
Debbie Wistrom01/18/08
Great feeling and tough choices, thanks for a touching entry.
Carol Wiley01/19/08
Very well done! The emotions came through loud and clear.
Joshua Janoski03/16/08
Wow. I felt the intensity welling up inside the boy as he tried to hold in his secret. You made me feel like I was the MC.

I'm glad that it ended with him finally telling on his brother. Though that would be a hard thing to do, it was the right thing, and it showed that he truly loved him.