“Natty, dear, would you go get Johnny? Dinner is almost done,” Mom asked.
“Sure,” I replied. I walked up the living room stairs, taking my time as I dragged my fingers along the railing. I walked up to Johnny’s door at the top of the staircase.
“Johnny,” I said as I knocked on the door. He didn’t respond.
“Johnny, it’s Natty. Open up,” I repeated. Impatient, I knocked on the door harder.
“Come on Johnny. Dinner is done,” I said angrily. I still didn’t get a response. I knocked even harder.
“That’s it. I’m coming in!” I yelled at the door. I reached for the knob, but didn’t even have to turn it before the door slowly opened. All of the lights were off, which wasn’t unusual for Johnny.
“Johnny?” I said carefully as I stepped into the room. He still wasn’t responding, which wasn’t normal considering I was in his room. He hated when anyone came into his room. His room was, in his words, “The only place I can be myself.” I switched on the light and screamed in pure horror.
“Johnny!” I screamed.
“Natty, what is it?” My mom called up the stairs frantically.
I couldn’t respond as I watched my brother hang from a noose from his bedroom ceiling. I was frozen. I dropped to my knees and began to cry. I could hear my mom running up the stairs as I began to rock back and forth. I saw her come into the bedroom and yank Johnny down from the ceiling. She held him to her chest and cried as she called an ambulance. I continued to sit on the floor as I watched my mom rock Johnny back and forth.
“Johnny, Johnny wake up,” I heard her say. Silent tears ran down my face as I stared at my brother’s lifeless body. She patted Johnny’s brown hair as she cried out hysterically. I noticed a small white envelope peeking out from underneath Johnny’s bed. I waited until my mom’s face was buried in my brother’s hair before I retrieved it. My name was scribbled on the front, so I opened it.
Don’t go unnoticed. Be true, be you. Don’t lose the battle within yourself or to anyone else.
I continued to cry as the paramedics arrived and pronounced Johnny dead. I cried even harder as I watched them take his body away in a black body bag. I folded the letter as small as I could and stuffed it into my jeans pocket as I crumpled into a ball of sorrow.
Artist: Kelsie Carr
School: North Allegheny