"Anyone can slay a dragon. . .but try waking up every morning and loving the world all over again. That's what takes a real hero." - BRIAN ANDREAS
Originally published for "Ascension," January 14, 2009.
“I need boxers,” I say to my mother hopefully. Mostly Sean gets everything new, and I get passed-down jeans with ripped pockets and shirts with armpit stains. I draw the line at underwear.
“We’ll see if anything’s on sale after I look at ties.” She heads off.
That was easy. Mom must be in a sentimental mood. UNLV’s been courting Sean with a full basketball scholarship since he won the championship last year. There’s just the formality of the interview, which is why we’re at the mall after practice, buying suits we can’t afford.
On the thinly carpeted floors in the hallway of the men’s dressing room, I stretch out my legs, turn up the volume on the iPod I worked all summer to buy. Ten minutes later, I peer under the cheap particleboard partitions to see if Sean’s done. My brother’s sitting, still in his own clothes, staring at a piece of paper.
“Sean? What’s up?” He doesn’t stop me when I open the door, reach down to grab the note.
The words stay low, stuck in his throat. “I’m off the team. Coach said it’s lucky I’m not expelled.” I tower over him. I’d kept his secret, but now. He’s in deep.
“Tell Mom I’m going to look at boxers.” I drop the paper.
I trip out of the dressing room, walk down the hall, through the men’s department, onto the escalator, up, high, higher.