Neutron Star


Dante’s missing. I stood with my body wrapped in deep purple, the cap sitting on my head; bobby pins cutting into my scalp ever so slightly. I fidgeted with my fingers as I waited for my brother to show up at the house. He was ten minutes late, then twenty and now thirty. My mother looked at me with eyes that screamed, please let it go, but my heart kept my feet cemented to the ground as I stared at the driveway waiting for the booming noises of his speakers to pierce my ears. My inner child wouldn’t allow the thought he would miss this day, my soul ached for his approval; but my mind knew better. At one point he coddled the weight of my world in his hand, but now, he released it; letting it slowly crumble and float away in the crisp air of June. I felt a tear slip down my left cheek, slowly descending to the bottom of my face where it would drop to the ground below it, drop just like my expectations had. I got into the car, put the key into the ignition, stepped on the gas and swallowed the burning sensation of grief that my heart had succumbed to.
Dante was always good at basketball; he was going to go pro one day. He bounced the ball onto the concrete, went behind the back, stepped back and released; another made shot. The August sun beat down on us and we were balls of sweat; having been outside for hours. The fresh air flowed through my lungs as I took a long deep breath. I lifted my hand to shield my eyes from the bright burning light hanging in the sky.  I admired him, the look of dedication and determination that shined in his eyes no matter how long he played; I wanted to be just like him. He passed me the ball and I laughed as he chased after me, faking an attempt at defense. I tried to make a run for it, but he was always faster. He enveloped me in his arms tossing me up into the air before catching me; a safety net I had grown so fond of. We would spend our days playing basketball, riding bikes, swimming, making treehouses. When I’d fall down, he took care of me. When I’d cry, he would hold me. When I didn’t have confidence, he cheered me on. I learned how to ride my bike with him, brush my teeth, tie my shoes, take care of my curls, make my bed, make myself food, do the laundry, drive a car, get my own gas, get a credit card, get a job, apply for high school. All the while, having no idea what he was sacrificing in the process. All the while, not understanding the very premise that if he was raising me: who raised him? It was a question that failed to run through my mind at the time but once I had the revelation it plagued me with its intensity; I no longer looked at him as a brother, he was a father.
As we grew older, things changed. Sometimes change can be a good thing like a new job, new friends, new opportunities; this was not the change Dante had. His exuberance was a lone spec compared to how illuminating he was. I watched as the beam of light that shown through his eyes whittled away to a dull gleam. His anger began to glare through, his own childhood, before I was even a thought, tinting him in a black hue. A black hue that rained over him like a storm cloud darkening his features and making him unrecognizable in its midnight cloak. A black hue that colored him with the pigment of recklessness; bad ideas, bad situations, jail time, only seemed to increase as the days went on. This black hue was one that could only be altered with his magic potion. A magic potion that would ignite the turmoil of his personality’s demise. A magic potion that would rid him of his sanity but would give him the feeling he so desperately craved, numbness. I lost my safety net; the one person that I shared everything with had become a stranger. It was as if someone had taken him and erased his identity; his past features being a mere enigma of my imagination. I felt him slip away; he became Bud Light, Budweiser, Corona, Heineken, Modelo, Michelob Ultra, Blue Moon, Samuel Adams, Miller Lite, Kona, Corona. He’s lost, Dante’s missing.

Kris is a 19-year-old from Boston, Massachusetts. She is currently a student at Salem State University majoring in Education, allowing her to one day be able to share her love for writing and inspire students to express themselves. She hopes to pursue more creative writing in the future and is looking forward to creating pieces to help and connect with others. This piece was inspired by personal experience that shaped her childhood and her family. It is a deep dive into the perspective and psyche of the sibling of an addict.

"An old basketball net blows" by The African Union Mission in Somalia is marked with CC0 1.0.

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A magazine for teen writers—by teen writers. Under the Madness brings together student editors from across New Hampshire under the mentorship of the state poet laureate to focus on the experiences of teens from around the world. Whether you live in Berlin, NH, or Berlin, Germany—whether you wake up every day in Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe, North or South America—we’re interested in reading you!