Hello coffee lovers and avid readers! Welcome to Olive’s Library at Olive’s Café, where you can read the stories of adventurous characters as they explore life.
Here’s a story of a brother with an aspiring dream:
The sun is out, and there’s only a few clouds in the sky. The sky, a beautiful blue. I continue to look out the window as we move. Green trees, grass, and just free space. Boy, I would love to run around with my best friend, Rover. But today, I’m on a mission; I have someone special to see. Someone that means so much to me. It’s been 7 years straight, and I don’t know what has changed over the years.
I look to my left, and my roommate is just focused on the road. His face straight, a few blinks to keep himself awake. I kept asking him if I can drive. He just swats me away like a fly. I laugh at him, because he’s just so focused on the road, and I don’t know if he’s even aware of his actions. For 3 hours, I would pick on his ear, give him the wet willy, and all he does is smack my hand away and even attempts to bite my finger. He doesn’t even shout, nor slips. He’s just so focused.
Maybe he’s as nervous as me, and this is the first time that he’s going to see my family. Best of all, he will see why I’ve been so anxious and adamant about going home. And soon, he will understand why I have spent every waking day and waking night working on my gift. I turn away and go back to watching the nature as we drive by. Bright sun, blue sky, some clouds, green trees and grass. Everywhere.
As we get closer to Tampa, my heart starts to beat faster. I get nervous. I start sweating, like I’m on a race to the finish line. I wipe my forehead as we reach the traffic light. Finally, after 4 hours of driving, my roommate looks at me, disgusted, as he says, “What happened to you, Mike?”
“Nerves,” I say after a few seconds. Actually, I squealed. After I cleared my throat, I say, “Nerves. It’s just nerves, Nick.”
“Oh my God,” Nick sighs as he wipes his eyes and face. Then, he turns to me and says, “I have driven for 4 hours to get to Tampa, and now you’re nervous. Back then, you were excited.”
“I would have driven myself if you had let me 3 hours ago,” I say to him, eyes wide open. Is he serious now?
“The reason I didn’t let you drive is because you’re slow, and you would have turned back. For whatever reason, I don’t know. But now that we’re here, I’m NOT turning back now until you’re satisfied with… whatever that you did,” Nick explains.
Damn, he’s right. Why is this guy always right?!
I wipe my face again and take deep breaths, I hope that nothing goes wrong. Just thinking of seeing my family after 7 years makes my brain hurt.
Just remember why you left home. It wasn’t because you didn’t like it. It was because you have a dream. Remember that.
It’s a constant reminder as to why I left Tampa to live in Miami. It’s not that I didn’t find a reason to live in Tampa, I just thought that I can find something better in Miami. Boy, I was wrong. But I did make the time for myself to come up with something that can help my family. I could just imagine…
I calm down after my breathing exercise and nod my head. “You can do this, Mike,” I reassure myself, “You can do this.”
“Dude, stop talking to yourself. You’re freaking me out,” Nick says, as turns left on green. After a minute, we started to laugh.
Nick is such an ass. But I can’t thank him enough for coming with me.
Nick isn’t blood, but we’ve been friends since middle school. He knows almost everything about me and my family, but the one thing he doesn’t know is my younger brother, Matt.
I look out the window again, this time, the blue sky turns from yellow to purple. The clouds are turning gray, and the sun setting to allow the moon to rise. Shit, Nick and his literature…
Wow, evening already…
15 minutes later, and we park in front of my family’s house. Single family, one story, just like how my mom likes it. My dad doesn’t mind, but he would like a man cave to relax in. *”Oh, you know how your father is. Always stressed at work, and then comes home. You know, the Flintstone family style,” My mom always tells me over the phone. It’s comical to see my father look like Fred. Come to find out, that’s what Matt likes. At least, he used to like it…
I help Nick with our bags and head towards the porch. My mom, Nancy, comes out excited, and rushes to hug me first. I drop my bags and hug my mom back. “Oh, Merry Christmas, Mike! I’ve missed you so much!” “Hi, mom,” I say, my words muffled in her shoulders as I hug her. She lets go of me, and then hugs Nick as she says, “And Merry Christmas to you, too, Nick.”
“Merry Christmas, Mrs. Callaway,” Nick greets back. She lets go and tells us to come inside. We step inside, and out comes my dad, in an ugly Christmas sweater. “Hey son!” My dad greets. As he comes to hug Nick and I, I ask, “Dad, what’s with the sweater?”
My dad pulls away, and looks down at his sweater, looks back at us and says, “Hey, since we don’t have snow here in Florida, might as well keep on the Christmas spirit, yeah?” he chuckles at his own remarks. We laugh with him, well, because he’s kind of right.
I mean, why not?
“All right, now, guys, let’s get you settled to your room, as I prepare dinner. Now, go on,” my mom tells us. Nick and I go to our room and settle our bags on the floor. I grab my backpack and pull out my brother’s gift. I smile at it, knowing that my brother will like it. For 7 years, I had no sleep, little to no food, and missing out on all the fun with my other friends, but it was all worth it. It is worth it.
He will like it.
“He better like it, whatever it is,” Nick says as he plops on his bed. I look at him, shocked that he can read my mind. Before I can ask, he says, “You’ve been gawking at it like Nikola Tesla with his own inventions. Sheesh.”
I chuckle a little and shake my head as I set the gift down my bed. Then, I hear the door open and close.
That must be Matt coming from school…
I look at Nick and ask, “Ready to meet my brother?” “Yeah, sure,” Nick says, as he gets up and grunts. As we both walk out of the room, I tell Nick that he’s getting older and fatter. We both laugh and then… I see him.
Matt, all tall and grown up, and he’s only 15. We stop in our tracks, and as Matt puts down his back, he looks at me. He smiles as he runs to me in silence. We hug each other, tightly, and I can hear a little whimper coming from him. That’s how he cries. Then, I feel his tears. I pull back and wipe his face. “Hey, you’re grown now. You can’t cry in front me like that. What will the ladies think?” I joke. He squints, and he smiles widely as to seem he’s laughing. He is laughing.
Damn, this kid and I can see eye to eye now.
I turn around and lead him to my friend. “Nick, this is my baby brother, Matt. Matt, this is my roommate and best friend, Nick,” I introduce them together. Matt goes for the handshake, but Nick grabs him and gives him a brotherly hug. As they pull away, Matt smiles widely at Nick. “Bro, you are, like, seriously, tall. We all laugh and walk to the dining room table for dinner.
As we sit down, I tap my brother on the shoulder for him to see me and say, “I have something for you, but after dinner.” Matt nods, and then goes to the kitchen. Nick looks at Matt walking away, and then at me to ask, “What’s wrong with Matt? He can’t speak?”
I tell Nick, “Well, he’s been hard of hearing in his left ear since he was 5 years old. He can speak, but only when he wants to. He loves to write, though. Just like you.”
“Hey, what can I say? Writing is a great way to communicate. Ask the ladies,” he says as he leans back and expands his arms. “Yeah, what ladies?” I ask. We laugh as my dad comes to the dining room table to sit with us.
“Mike, Matt is so excited to see you. I mean, he started writing all over the fridge telling us in an essay,” my dad announces. We laughed really hard at it, but at the same time, it fills my heart.
Matt isn’t usually excited about many things, from what my parents tell me. Ever since I left to pursue my dream in technology, he didn’t want to speak anymore. Having me around was the only thing that gave him a reason to communicate. Soon, though, he will have no choice. He’s going to want to communicate.
As we dinner, I ask Matt, “Dad tells me that you won a contest with the newspaper. Congrats!” Matt smiles as he looks at me, and then says, “Yeah… I wrote about how technology can either hurt us or help us in the future. You know, sci-fi stuff.”
I nod and ask him if I can read it later. He nods and then eats his smash potatoes. “Nick, you’re a writer. Why don’t you help my brother with his work?” I ask Nick. “Oh, absolutely dude! Maybe help you with some romance writing, if you know what I mean,” Nick winks and nudges at Matt. Matt looks at him as he says, “I’m a sci-fi dude. Besides, ladies love science.”
We all laugh as Nick sits there dumbfounded. “Psh, whatever. I’ll still help you, only because you’re cool,” Nick says after a minute. I shake my head at Nick being ridiculous, and we finish our dinner just before 8:30pm. Okay, I need to stop looking at the time…
Nick, Matt, and I sit outside on the porch, and watch the stars from the sky. Nick taps on Matt’s shoulders to get his attention and he asks, “Hey bud, do you have any friends at school?” Matt nods, and he responds, “Yeah, but… not a lot, though. Only a few, that’s it.” Nick turns his head slightly and squints his eyes.
Oh no, he’s gonna ask that question…
“Do you have a girlfriend?” Nick asks. I hit myself in the face with my palm, and Matt laughs inaudibly at Nick. After Matt calms down, he answers, “No, I don’t. Not looking for one, now.”
“Come on, why not?” Nick asks as he throws his hands in the air.
“Maybe because he’s too young right now,” I say to Nick, looking at him sternly. “He’s only 15, Nick.”
“So? I had like 2 girlfriends by the time I was 15,” Nick points out.
“Nick, stop counting your cousin and your science partner,” I argue. Matt squeezes his eyes shut and laughs… inaudibly. I laugh with him, but compared to him, I sound like a major dork with the wheezing and laughing real loud.
Nick looks at us like we’re messed up, and says, “It’s no wonder Mike doesn’t have a girlfriend.”
“Hey, you should hear yourself laugh. Dude, you sound like a dying hyena begging for water in the desert,” I argue back. Matt throws himself back as he continues to laugh. Nick and I continue to argue back and forth about girlfriends, and the lack of. What made Matt release tears as he laughed is when I told Nick that he’s going to end up with a Cyndi Lauper look-a-like from the 80’s as a wife. With lots of cats. Lots. After 30 minutes of arguing back and forth, we head back inside, and I get Matt’s gift from my room. I walk to his room and see him sitting at his desk.
I knock on his door and announce that I’m here. Matt turns around and says, “Hey.”
I sit on the edge of his bed as I hold his gift, and say, “I know Christmas is in two weeks, but I wanted to give you your gift early, so you can use it soon.” Matt looks at me with glossy eyes, excited about this gift. He wipes his eyes on his pants in anticipation, and then I hand him his gift. He grabs it but doesn’t open it. I look at him, then the gift, and then at him again as I ask,” What’s wrong, buddy?” He looks at me for a minute, then says, “I just… thought about something. I forgot to say thank you for coming back to us. It wasn’t easy… you know?”
I nod my head in agreement. “I know, it’s hard to communicate when you can’t hear clearly. It’s even more difficult when you don’t have something to communicate with when you don’t want to communicate verbally.”
Matt nods his head, then starts to open his gift. He looks inside, and his eyes open wider. He looks at me, then back in his gift, and then back at me, just to see if this moment is really happening. “No way,” Matt whispers in excitement. I nod and smile as I say, “Yeah.”
Matt looks in his gift again and pulls out the cellphone and a box that holds something unique. He turns on the cellphone, and then sets it back into the box as he holds onto the smaller box. He asks as he examines it, “What’s this?”
“Open it and find out,” I tell him. He opens the smaller box, and he covers his mouth as he begins to tear up. Looking at my brother cry out of pure joy made me feel accomplished. 7 years of hard work made my brother cry in joy. “That’s why I was gone for 7 years. I made you something to help you hear and communicate,” I say to him. I point at the ear pieces and I explain, “These ear pieces are Bluetooth and they connect with your phone. You can call people, hear the alarm, and listen to music. So, you don’t have to use earphones or other Bluetooth devices. Just your ear pieces. Turn it on.”
After wiping his tears off, Matt turns on the ear pieces and squeals. Although the exterior is black, we can see them light up in red, blue, green, and yellow, signaling that they’re on. “But remember, Matt,” I begin to remind him, “you have to recharge them every 90 days. Otherwise, you can’t hear clearly. Pretty cool, huh?” Matt nods at me, then gives me a huge hug.
After we let go, he grabs the ear pieces and then turns to work on his phone. He puts on a song, and shrieks as he listens. “This is awesome, dude! I can listen to people talk on the phone.”
“Yeah, I know!” I say in excitement. After we calm down, I tell him, “I understand that Mom and Dad can’t afford for your ear piece, nor a cellphone. And from what I hear from them, the doctor was trying to give you crap ear pieces. But not for my little brother.” Matt smiles at me. Then, he says, “You know, before these ear pieces, you sounded quieter. Now, it’s crystal clear.”
With a hopeful tone, I announce, “Just imagine what I can do for other kids with the same condition as you. Then, everyone can listen.” Matt looks at me with glossy eyes, with hope that I can change the world, as I was able to change his.
Please comment on what you thought about this story. Was there anything that you did, or are doing now, for someone you love and at the same time can help others?
Thanks for tuning in on Olive’s Library at Olive’s Café!