My name is Justice, or J as they call me, and I right now, I am sitting all alone under a cherry blossom tree, thinking of my younger brother Methushael. What had happened this morning totally changed my perception toward my younger brother. He left three months ago, and I do not know I ever have the chance time to tell him all my regrets. Let me tell you what happened just this morning.
I was cleaning M’s room when I found something hidden under his bed. At first, I thought it was a book that he’d been reading. “Journal of a Teenager,” I read the title of the book. As I read it, something pinched my heart and reminded me of M. I smiled at the thought of him; he’d been away for three months now.
Curious, I opened the book to read whatever is written on it.
“Thanks for opening this book. I hope that you’ll like what you are about to read. —Methushael”
I turned the pages to read the next one, and I was surprised to see that it was his diary—or journal as he prefers to call it.
Sunday, 02/14, 2016
It’s Valentine’s Day, and of course, my big brother has his own date. I was alone at our place. Luckily, my best friend L showed up to give me company—we both did not have any dates this year. We decided to save our money for a comic book set we are going to buy next month. I decided to invite L to stay the night since my big brother came very late. I stayed awake just before midnight; my big brother arrived half past eleven—we both need to be home before twelve, or we will be in big trouble. He was so sleepy that he did not even bother to say “hello” or “hi, bro.” So what consolation did I get? Nothing, but headache.
After that, I turned to the next pages . . .
Monday, 02/29, 2016
Leap year! Hurrah!!! But nothing had really changed. Nothing too important happened, except K and I had a very long talk. Well, of course, she’s my sweetheart now. And I am proud to say that I am really over with Z. Isn’t it magnificent? Well, I am happy, and that thing is for sure.
Well, as they say, there are things that we love but we have to give them up, not because we don’t love them anymore, but because they’d be happier if we let them go . . . besides, something or someone better may just come our way soon—sometime, somewhere.
“He’s too poetic,” I said to myself, smiling. “He really hasn’t changed all these years.” Then, I continued reading his journal.
Tuesday, 03/01, 2016
Still, things haven’t changed too much. K and I are still stable by this time . . . and going stronger day by day. I am starting to gain new friends as well. But my big brother and I are still cold toward each other—or rather, he is still cold toward me—and I don’t know why. He ignores my greetings, he does not seem to care what I say about my day or what I ask about his, and he seems to act as a new aloof acquaintance—yes, an acquaintance. I hope, one day soon, this will change. This is the only change I am asking for. For the better.
Thursday, 04 21, 2016
K and I went our very first exclusive date! I took her to a very romantic European restaurant, and we sat on the Italian section, but ordered French and Portuguese dishes. I wanted her to try both cuisines my parents are proud of (well, Mom’s Portuguese; Dad’s French). We talked about random stuff until marriage and family came on. It was a bit awkward at first, but it was fun. We laughed at the idea, but I told her I really picture myself being her husband and the father of her kids. When the violins started to play, I asked her for a dance and she said yes. We took the dance floor until many others joined us later on.
That was so ecstatic that I will not forget about it—ever. We had a really beautiful night. By eight thirty, I decided that we better get going as I promised her dad I’d take her home before nine. I went home after that, but there was no Justice waiting for me to ask me how my first date had been. He’s out with his friends. Maybe, I am not just as important to him as he is to me.
My heart was beating loudly as a drum. I very well remembered that night. There was a twinge of guilt and shame in my heart. I should have never done that. I thought. I never knew that would make him unimportant. I am so stupid . . . I really am stupid.
Friday, 04/29, 2016
I hate it. A newly sprung boy from a different school moved in, and can you imagine it? He is stealing my beloved K away from me. I really hate that Linxifraigh boy; he’s been acting as if he knew K ever since. They’ve been paired in a class project, and he won’t leave K alone. He even crashed himself in our afternoon date. Like what? Do we need a chaperon? I clearly showed K how upset and jealous I am. I am just not sure how she took it.
But guess what, a friend of mine has visited me three times today. Who? Nothing but my recurring headache. It’s been getting worse. I took painkillers, but to no avail. The pain will go away for a few hours, then, return.
And the worst thing, maybe, is my big brother knows neither about this nor what has been going on between me and K. He used to be the first person to ask me about what happened to my day. I wonder where that Justice went. It is true: we live under the same roof, we eat at the same table, we do thing brothers normally do; but one thing we never did these days is to talk things out.
That was not the last page of his journal, but that was the last page he had written. I placed the journal on his bed and opened the window—I badly needed to get some fresh air. My heart and mind was racing to those days when I had gone aloof from and cold toward him. As I opened the window, a gentle breeze came in and blew the pages of his journal. The breeze revealed to me a folded paper inserted between two empty pages of his journal. I darted my stare toward the folded paper, and as I look at it, it urges me to pick it up and open it.
I picked it up and unfolded it. There and then, I discovered that it was his hand-drawn map. More of a sketch, like what we used to do when we were little—burry a treasure a make sketch for the other to hunt. Whoever finds the other’s treasure first wins.
I decided to follow his map. What motivated me was no longer curiosity, but guilt and shame for not being the older brother that I should have been for him before left three months ago. All these time, I had the best younger brother one could ask for, and I did not reciprocate whatever he offered me. It was a shame on me.
His map led me to our garden. And when I got to his spot, I started the excavation.
“Finally,” I told myself as I have unearthed his treasure. It was a small metal box carefully and tightly wrapped in cling film. I carried that small box to and situated myself under our cherry blossom tree; it is there where M used to spend his time when he writes. I opened the small box prudently, and I was surprised at the sight of letters inside it—all addressed to me. “What have happened to these letters if I did not find these?” I asked myself. I picked up one of the letters and decided to read it.
Thank you for the memories you’ve shared with me. Thanks for your patience and insight toward my childish attitude.
You are the best big brother there is in the whole wide world . . . but I don’t know what happened that you’ve grown cold to me. Was it something that I said, or maybe how I reacted? Please don’t make it hard for me, ’coz I’m willing to say I’m sorry.
I tried everything to please you, Justice, you know that, don’t you? You very well are aware that I cannot stand this kind of situation—being ignored by someone I hold dear. You already have me met my death, Justice, by showing me my unimportance. This is death.
I know that as the days go by, your indifference toward me increases. But this is just not fair, bro, it’s not that I am assuming you are angry with me, but you are clearly showing it. IT is unfair because I do not even know my faults. I do not even know what I have done wrong against you. You have to open this up to me; this can only be solved by a real conversation. I have tried everything to talk to you but you always send me away.
We are both aware that we are not real brothers. But since Mom and Dad adopted us, I have treated you as more than a brother. You knew that I grew up without a brother, and I was hungry to have one, and you filled up my hunger. Then, without any apparent reasons, you got mad at me. Is that fair? No, it never is fair. Never.
You told me not to keep my wrath for more than a day and settle conflicts before sunset. The sun has set a million times between us, but there has been no change.
Just remember one thing, I have loved you as a younger brother should have, I love you as a younger brother would, and I will always love you as a younger brother will—because I always wanted a brother.
I’ve realized that asking for your forgiveness so often may only annoy you even more. So I decided to simply continue writing these letters that you might not be able to read anyway.
As you might have known, Mom and Dad will be taking me out of the country to have my illness cured. The local doctors said the only specialist for this kind of illness can be found outside the country, also the right facilities. Anyway, all I wish that when we come home, we will be like brothers again. And I’ll bring you your favorite shirt brand and color. I hope that would be enough as a peace offering?
Just take care, bro, because this is going to be a long separation. Also, please keep an eye on L and K while I am away.
PS: I do not know how to give you these letters. So I just hope you’ll be able to read them someday.
I decided to pause for a while. I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t move a muscle. My heart was pounding too fast. Is it my conscience? Is this guilt? Or is this my unexpressed love to my younger brother? I asked myself.
Looking down, I saw a micro SD card wrapped in a small resalable plastic film inside the box. On the plastic film, a post-it with the words “For my brother Justice, my best friend L, and my dearest K” was attached.
I picked up the micro SD and hurried toward my bedroom. I inserted it to my laptop’s SD card slot and opened whatever data M had saved for us. It was a video recording of M. After watching it, I phoned K and L to come over as soon as possible and have them see what M has for them.
After their arrival, the three of us sat in front of my laptop and watched M’s video recording.
This is what he had to say.
“For everyone of you, I would like to extend my deepest thanks for sharing me a part of your life, memories, and time. This might be the time that you’ll see me and hear my voice again. And if you are watching this, I must thank my brother for cleverly finding this somewhere.” He paused to laugh. “Actually, I am not hoping that you will be watching this, and I am just planning to have you watched it when we return from my medication. And if you are watching this while I am not back yet, none of you dare cry, okay? I mean, why cry at all? The tears I have seen in the hospital are enough.
“Justice, I want to thank you for all the love and memories you have given me.” He smiled. He held up a shirt. “Remember this? This is the first shirt you bought for me five years ago. Anyhow, I’ll be taking it with me to keep as one of my charms.” He scoffed at his own statement; he does not believe in charms and luck. “What am I saying? Anyway, I want to seriously thank you for everything. You are one of God’s real blessings to me. Since you dawned into my life as my brother, you have been so good and responsible to me—like I am your real brother. And I thank you specifically for that among other things. I just do not know how to tell you that in a way that you can understand and appreciate. I love you, bro, and if it wasn’t for you, I wouldn’t have known life the way that I had.” He smiled again, his eyes fixed somewhere away from the camera. “Although I do not what happened lately. If you are watching this, you might have read my letters for you too. And just like I said in some of them, I want us to be the brothers we were before when I return. I miss the old us.” He smiled once more. “I’ll see you soon.”
“L, my best friend. Thanks for the memories too. Thank you for the good times, the cheers, the pieces of advice and everything else, and most of all, thank you for introducing K to me. Thanks for being there when I needed you the most, for being there during the happy days and even during the bad memories. Thank you for the joyous frivolities we’ve shared. You just don’t know how much I appreciate those thing a lot. Thanks for treasuring our friendship to its highest value. Words may not be enough to let you know the things that I want to tell you, but I guess you already know them, asshole.” He laughed. “Well, I’ll see you soon when I return. And don’t let anyone sit on my spot. I sit beside you. Make sure the seat beside you in class is mine when I return. Okay?”
“My dearest K.” He smiled sadly, his gray eyes became watery. “I love you. I am sorry if I have to be away as our anniversary is nearing. But I’ll be back. I know our love will help me survive this illness.” He lifted his arms to be seen. “See these?” He pointed at the spot where the needles from all the blood extractions had made marks and bruises. “There are just ant bites. Don’t worry about me.” He smiled. “Remember that I love you so much, more than words can say and more than my ink can scribble down. Our love will see us through. I will always love you beyond the limits of time and space, even if I have already crossed the bar. Just remember that I am always with you. Remember our song? Let me sing it for you: ‘I will always be with you, makes no difference where your road takes you to. Even if we’re apart, now we´re joined at the path. Though our moment may be gone you and I will still live on. I will always be with you. I’ll be by your side whatever you do. Other mem’ries may fade, but the ones that we made are eternal as a star. Now I’m part of who you are.’” He laughed afther his singing.
“I am so sorry I was never good at singing. I love you, K. I really do.
“J, K, and L, thank you for being a part of me. Thank you for giving me the best times of my life. I wish to see you soon. As soon as possible. If you have seen this already, please give me a call or send me an e-mail. I am sure I will be missing you once I leave out of the country. With the greatest love and the whole wide world, M.”
The screen turned black. There was nothing else that followed.
Our reactions were different. L was trying to be brave. I saw him clenching his fists tightly, holding back every possible tear that may flow down. His eyes were fixed in an uncertain point.
“Be brave, L,” I heard him whisper to himself. “Be brave, M does not want you to cry anymore . . . be brave . . . try to be brave . . . for M.”
K, on the other hand, was crying deeply. Her face buried in her palms. I heard her voice, and I very well then recognized what that sound meant. It was a mixture of pain, longing, pity, and love for my younger brother, Methushael.
“I am so sorry, M,” she said to no one in particular. “I just can’t help myself but cry. I am so sorry. I miss you so much, M. I love you.”
Unlike L, I wasn’t’ able to stop myself from crying. I was feeling foolish of myself for ignoring my younger brother Methushael when I still have my time with him, and now, I am regretful . . . foolish, that’s what I am.
I just leaned myself against the wall and cried, cried, and cried . . . regretting and feeling foolish of myself.
That was the second time I saw M’s video, but it still made my tears flow. I’m sorry, M. I thought. I can’t help but cry. I’m sorry. I love you, and you are the best brother I ever had and the world could ever have. It was foolish of me to ignore you, and I cannot forgive you because you never wronged me. It was me who was wrong all these times. I just do not know how to tell you that because my pride had devoured me. I am so sorry. I love you, and nothing can change that, not even the fact that we are not real brothers.
After seeing that video, I realized that I needed a brother more than a friend. A brother who’s there in times that you need him, and even if you don’t. A brother who loves you every day of his life.
I never thought that he needed me more than a brother would ask. That he wanted to share his thoughts and time with me. I recalled when he asked me to watch a movie or play computer games with him, I refused. I recalled when he wanted to spend his time with me in school, I sent him away. I remembered when he tried to tell me his nightmares, I scolded him. I never thought that it was I who had gone wrong; it wasn’t he after all.
It is true that we do not know what we have been missing till it arrives, but we also do not know what we have until we lost it.
I wanted to tell him I had long been missing him, that I need him, that I love him, and that he is the best younger brother in the whole wide world. But it is impossible now. He is in a place that I could never reach. No matter how fast I run, no matter how far I walk, no matter how high I fly, as long as I live, I could never be there, because he is in a place called . . . heaven.
This is actually the very first short story that I have ever written. I first wrote in 2005 when I was still in third year high school. I first gave it the title “Journal of a Teenager,” as the book within this story is called. I made it as part of a course requirement for our English class. When I reached first year college, I then again, submitted it as part of a course requirement in our grammar class. Second year college came, and we had to publish our own mini gazette with a short fiction, so instead of writing a new one, I simply edited it (I changed the characters’ names from Keioh to Methushael [M] and Jeyffer to Justice [J] and added two more characters L and K; thus, adding the scene where Justice found the micro SD with M’s recording) and changed the title to “M’s Journal.” Yesterday, I found it in my archives and decided to publish it. However, I gave it another round of edit and changed the voice recording to a video recording as vlogging is much common nowadays. I also added and removed some of the dialogue lines. So basically, this is the fourth round of edit and probably no longer the first story. Anyhow, the plot stayed the same and so are the themes and the idea I wanted to convey.
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