Leave A Message | Teen Ink

Leave A Message

September 27, 2018
By Celebrian9 PLATINUM, Syracuse, New York
Celebrian9 PLATINUM, Syracuse, New York
20 articles 2 photos 4 comments

Favorite Quote:
"I think we dream so we don’t have to be apart for so long. If we’re in each other’s dreams, we can be together all the time.” -Winnie the Pooh

Let me take you through my typical week. My days are filled with the bright light of the computer screen, pounding beats of music, words running through my head hidden behind a blank expression. Monday through Friday, I walk the halls with no particular purpose, unnoticed, just another name on the attendance list. (Christiana Ling? Here. Joshua Mathews? Here.) Saturday is my day, spent upstairs in my room, door closed, music locked inside the circles stuck in my ears. On Sunday’s, my mother drags me out of bed and into dress clothes, sticks me in the car, and drives me to church. I sit listlessly, headphone wire dangling into my pocket, blocking out the droning of Father Matthew. He talks about “family in Christ” and “brotherhood of the saints” but what the hell. (Oh, sorry, did I offend someone?) My own father walked right out of the house and my life when I was six, disappearing down 38th Street, and Father Matthew wasn’t doing much to repair that.

Family is forever, as the saying goes. But families are made of people, and people fail you all the time. At least you choose your friends; you’re stuck with family, with no choice but to tolerate them. Until you’re eighteen- or forty three, in my father’s case. The saying didn’t seem to resonate with him. The only thing left I have of him is his gun, locked in a safe in the upstairs closet. My mother refuses to get rid of it, for some stupid sentimental reason. He’s been gone for years; might as well toss it.

And friends aren’t a second family- who wants to hang out with a kid who doesn’t talk? Not to mention my grades. No one wants to hang out with a failure.

Not that I care.

My little brother on the other hand- he’s a child prodigy. Some piano whiz, math genius, something or other. Colleges have their eye on him already, and he’s barely done with fourth grade. His teachers always drop by- “I think he’s got potential!” (No duh, Mrs. Kelly.) “Have you heard him play Mozart? It’s amazing!” (Got it, Mr. Johnson, he’s a genius)- and that’s my cue to disappear into my bedroom. I doubt my mother even notices. Johnny does though, even tried to evade the teachers and come into my room. I locked him out, and my mother (and consequently, the entire elementary school faculty) found him upstairs, speaking through a keyhole to me. I heard my mother whisper “it’s Joshua’s room” with a hint of embarrassment and the understanding murmurs of my former teachers- my brother is a special case, but I was the problem child.

Yeah, family is forever. Always stick together, us Mathews’. Standing up for each other. Making sure everyone’s included.

To be fair, I don’t do much to change it. I don’t steal stuff to gain attention; I don’t do drugs or anything. I kinda just… sit. When I was younger, everyone would tell me to “sit still, Josh” and “wait until the recital is over, Josh” and “stop moving, Johnny needs to be in this picture, Josh” and I guess that rubbed off. I guess there’s not much I can do to change it. If I stole something it would be “he’s a problem child anyway.”  If I did drugs, same thing. If I killed myself… well, that wouldn’t accomplish much, would it? I’d be dead.

And yet, here I am, alone in my room again, headphones stuck in my ears, door locked, hints of my brother’s piano playing, the occasional ding of the doorbell announcing another teacher’s presence, cutting through the opening notes of Mozart’s fifth. It’s Saturday, my day, and this is how I’ll spend it- sitting on my bed, holding a cold leather grip attached to a metal barrel, alternately holding it to my forehead and putting it down again, changing my mind as quickly as the notes running through my mind.

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