The Day I Almost Killed My Brother

High School was wretched. I had very few friends. I was the girl in the hallway whose books were knocked from her hands. I shudder when I drive past my old school, and intend to burn any notice I receive for a Class Reunion. One of the bright spots in my HS years, was that I rarely rode the bus. God blessed me with a beautiful junker of a car. It passed from my sister to me, and made my days a bit easier. When my brother reached the same campus as me, he received the added benefit of this, since he then rode with me to school. He was a bookworm, a proclivity I completely understand, and used the precious half hour ride to add book after book to his pile of conquests.

Here is where my story really begins.

I was lonely after long days of loneliness (redundant explanation perhaps but true) and longed to engage in uplifting conversation. My brother is three years younger than me, and has always been a precocious fellow. I would hop into the car, buckle up, and promptly begin to chatter. His occasional grunts deceived me into thinking I was listened to, and I blathered on, wagging my chin like an idiot. The day I finally realized he wasn’t listening, I was a little miffed. I dropped back into silence and watched the tedious scenery roll by my windows. He barely noticed the difference and continued to contentedly turn pages.

We left school at the same time. We went home the same route. September to June. Twice a day. The scenery got boring, until one element of the view caught my eye and gave me a source of entertainment.

A boy, probably a year or two younger than me, got off his school bus at the corner and walked down the street to his house. He had a mop of curly brown hair, often wore a red flannel shirt, and nodded his head rhythmically up and down as he walked. I noticed it once. I noticed it twice. I started looking for headphones, or some sign that he heard something I didn’t. Apparently not, it must have been a tick. I’m not judging. My eyes twitch violently when I eat something sour.

He gave me weeks of silent analysis and mental study. Why nod? How nod? Was he a drummer? Was he humming too? What was his name? Which house was his? On and on and on… None of this madness would have continued if my brother had spared me those thirty minutes for conversation! None! Especially not what happened next…

I have a strange sense of humor. Few people understand it. Sometimes I’m not sure I understand it myself. But I began to concoct stories about this boy and tell them to my might-as-well-have-been-deaf brother.

The boy’s name was Josh. He and I were in love. We wrote beautiful letters to one another. He was a musician and a poet. We shared our first kiss in yonder field. We carved our initials in the knotted bark of that tree. Ah! Rapture! Bliss! The unparalleled heavenly taste of his lips against mine! I told my brother a new story about this boy every day for about a week. All went unheard. One day I went a step too far.

We came upon the turn. There was his bus. It stopped. He stepped down and began his nod accompanied stroll down the street.

“There he is Michael,” I sighed. “Look at those gorgeous locks. Tonight I shall run my fingers through them.” I looked at my brother. Who knows where he was. I tapped my fingers on the steering wheel. “You don’t believe I know him do you?” Silence. “I do and today I’ll prove it to you! Today I will wave at my beloved and he will blow me a kiss, then you will know all I speak to you is true!”

I took the turn slowly, positioned myself, one hand on the wheel, one lifted to wave at my unsuspecting victim. I locked my eyes on him, slowed to a crawl, and waved vigorously, my face plastered with feigned rapture. He looked up at me. His eyes widened in surprise. My brother screamed.


This was neither a scream of affirmation, nor of wonderment that all my stories were true. No. It was a scream of utter terror.

If you don’t believe in God, if you don’t believe in miracles, you are about to hear a tale of mine.

My brother looked up from his book. He NEVER looked up from his book. That day he did, just in time to warn me that I was gliding on a direct course for a tree on the side of the road. Apparently the perpetual diagonal line I walk on is a defect in my brain. The one handed grasp on my wheel was gently gliding us off the road, unbeknownst to me.

I screamed, swerved, and slammed on my breaks. My brother and I sat for a moment or two in silence, learning once again how to properly breathe.

“What the heck were you doing?” Michael asked.

I shook my head in silence. I removed my foot from the break and we rolled on towards home. I glanced in my review mirror. The boy stood still in the middle of the road, his head gently nodding.

I never saw him again, but I often think of him. I wonder if he ever thinks of me. The girl that nearly ran into a tree just to look in his eyes and wave her hand at him.

Author: Rachel Svendsen

Rachel is a poet and writer from Pennsylvania, where she lives with her husband and children. Her short story "Filling the Silence" received an honorable mention in the 2019 Story Embers short story competition.

11 thoughts on “The Day I Almost Killed My Brother”

  1. I completely understand where you are a coming from in this piece. my situation somewhat the same in school, but I did have some close friends in high school. nevertheless, I was the introverted one, and talking to the girls that tended to follow all the sports guys as they saw they were the successful ones can make one a bit intimidated. however, i tried to do it “their way” as in run track but i wasn’t the top athlete so you just go unnoticed. when one tries to fit in under what everyone one else identifies as successful, it can leave you with a few chips on the shoulders and set you up for a lot of things once you get into the adult world. there is much i can tell you Rachel, but i will say this, and it may even fit for you as well. I was much brighter than i ever got credit for. one of my classmates who was class salutatorian paid my way for my 35. he sees my talent for the word. i hadn’t planned on going. sometimes you have to work with the right classmates. i’ll give an example of a classmate. he was mr athlete and was our class president, but as he got older, he changed and didn’t treat women the right way. you are still young, and people change over time. let your talent work for you and it will be just fine. i’m hoping i have left you some good insight.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Love your story. I was fairly miserable during high school so understand where your mind was while you were driving. I day dreamed the life I wasn’t having. You will be amazed at how liberating it when you let all of high school go.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. You had me from start to finish. I liked the story very much. What’s wrong with longing for love, or should cry out for love. I hope your day is filled with the knowledge of God’s awesome love for you.

    Much love Tom

    Liked by 1 person

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