By Stephen Grotticelli

“Come on. It’s just a doll.”

He was right. He usually was. But fuck it all, this was my doll. I had owned this thing since I was three. That is twenty-two years. Did he really think I would not have an attachment to it?

“It’s not like you even play with it anymore. I mean, you’re an adult, Izzy.”

An adult with a childish attachment to her childhood toy, then. But I would acquiesce to him. It always ended up that way. It was easier than fighting him on the matter.

“Fine.” I relented. “But if I bail you out like this, you’re going to owe me this time.”

“Sure, sure. Whatever you say, Izzy.”

“I mean it! I don’t have an unlimited supply of cherished childhood memories for us to sell off, you know. There are going to have to be changes.”

“Is that so? Well then we’ll talk all about it later.”

Later never actually comes. You’d think I would protest this, but I just take it. It always goes this way. He tends to get what he wants. If I could just grow a damned spine and tell him off! But he was all the family I had, and I couldn’t dare jeopardize that. And he had raised me, I suppose. After our mother was shot and died from her wounds, he had to saddle the awkward role of brother and father. It must be hard to raise a child when you’re only a year older than her.

He dropped out of school. He told me he wasn’t going to “learn any of the real shit” there. I was sure he was just saying that for my sake. He had dropped out to better raise me. Made me feel pretty guilty at the time. It still does, actually.

I make him sound responsible, don’t I? Then you’re probably wondering why he has to sell off my possessions. Well, inheriting a child he never expected and having to entirely change the course of his life proved to be pretty stressful for him. He needed to find a way to relieve the stress.

“Don’t you know how bad that stuff is for you?”

“Damn it, Izzy. It’s my body. Ain’t I got freedoms? I’ll do what I please with my own money so long as I’m free to make my own decisions.”

He never used to be like this, did he? It was all my fault, I knew it was. I was why he dropped out of school, why he bought that disgusting stuff. I was ruining his life. I can give you another example. Our mother never really cared for us much. She gave us financial support well enough, but beyond that she was mostly just a figurehead. My brother was doing most of my raising even then. He never had time to make other friends and struggled to gain strong social skills. This, coupled with his lack of even a high school diploma left him without the ability to advance in his employment. He didn’t have the sort of money coming in that mother used to. He barely had enough to feed the two of us and keep us in our home, let alone enough to get his relief. And he seemed to need more of that all the time.

“Come on, Izzy. We’ll just be selling off a few things we don’t need until I get that promotion. It’s just like a garage sale.”

“And when is that promotion coming, anyway? Every time you talk about it it seems to be just another “soon” away.”

“Real soon now, Izzy. Come on.”

That was six years ago. “Soon” still isn’t here yet. He did get a small raise, though. It just helped combat inflation and rising taxes a little. He told me that it was better than nothing. He said that this was just the struggle until we were the richest family in the world. I laughed at such a ridiculous jest, and he laughed too. But I could see he was just masking pain.

I tried to find a job myself. But that damn psych evaluation they gave me in high school killed me every time. They weren’t supposed to know about the results of those sorts of things. They weren’t supposed to discriminate against me because of them even if they did. But fuck if they didn’t find out anyway and turn me down. I guess I would create far too much paperwork if something went wrong. And they can find more where I came from without any of my problems.

My brother blamed himself when he heard about the diagnosis. Another weight I burdened him with. Now he was ruining his life to support mine and my lousy brain had gone and made it seem like he wasn’t even any good at that. Just can’t stop fucking things up for others, can you Izzy?

So that’s why I don’t protest too much when he does things like that. I need him and I owe him. But it’s selfish of me to expect him to placate my desire for family at his own great expense, isn’t it? So that’s why I’ve killed myself. You’ve likely noticed my body dangling near the ceiling fan by now. I don’t know who will read this, really. Probably just you, dear brother. But isn’t it great? We’re free! You’re free! By ending my own life I have saved yours. This suicide was the greatest form of gratitude I could think to offer.

Thank you for the twenty-five years of life you gave me. It was a wonderful experience. But it’s time for you to finally have some time for yourself. I don’t want to be your obligation weighing you down, anymore. Aren’t you happy now, brother? Your sentence is over and we both have our release. I don’t think two individuals have ever had a moment quite as cathartic and charming as this one.

Loving you from beyond the grave,