to the room beside mine

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Study Abroad.”

If you were asked to spend a year living in a different location, where would you choose and why?

In my brother’s shoes.

I would like to know what he goes through, what goes through in his mind, even just for a day. He is as elusive as the 29th day of February, as quiet as the sunset. I would like to know how he feels, his dreams, his anxieties. My brother doesn’t say much, and I am a writer, so his nods, shrugs, footsteps kill my need for words. I read somewhere that writers thrive more in silence, in gaps, because those are spaces we can fill with words. But my brother refuses to use words. He prefers charcoal and blank paper, lines and shadows, portraits and still images. I would like to know his world because sometimes–sometimes around 2 in the morning–I think I hear him crying out for help. But when I check in the morning, I see new portraits of women looking at a distance, women with eyes so defined that they look at back at me and I am forced to blink making sure they aren’t alive.

My brother is an artist; and the heart of one, often inaccessible.

Words are all I have; and I’ve tried many many times to slip words under his door hoping to reach out to him in a medium I will understand.

But he simply replies back with nods, shrugs, footsteps, and charcoal portraits. His room is beside mine; we are separated by a wall, and I feel like he is in a different world where his hands are tainted with lead and the sky has copies of faces as stars.

And I would just like to know, to be reassured, that he is happy.

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