The Window Is Open
Updated: Dec 11, 2021
By Hanna Kim
It’s the seventh night in a row where I lay awake at three in the morning, the dim blue light of my nightlight the only thing to keep me company.
Sometimes I still think he’s in the room next to me. My brain weaves false illusions: the sound of his video games next door, the dim light of his computer screen seen through the gaps of his door. It’s a cruel game my mind plays, yet I can’t do anything to stop it from happening.
It’s been eight months since my brother left. I can still hear Mom repeatedly mumbling his name in her sleep as if it would bring him back. Dad’s been going to work like always, but instead of coming home and slumping in front of the television, he goes straight to the bedroom. I think I’ve heard him cry, but I’m not sure.
Someone’s pulled the rug from under my feet: the ground feels unsteady, and I can’t regain my footing. In a span of one night, everything has transformed drastically, and I’m still reeling from the change.
I hug the pillow I’m holding closer to my chest, drawing the duvet over my bare arms as I try not to shiver from the chill of the rain outside. I glance up. It’s strange: the window isn’t open, yet I’m still cold. With a sigh, I pull the covers off me and walk across the room. The window is cool to the touch. When I place my hand near one of the window openings, I feel a slight breeze. I pull down on the window once more to ensure that the latches on top of the windows are sealed tight.
My parents are not the only ones who have changed. I can feel the eyes of my peers on me as I walk past them in the hallway. It may have to do with the fact that I dyed my hair a crazy color. People have told me many things about me that are completely untrue. They’ve told me I’m a kind person. They’ve praised how well I deal with tough situations.
The truth is, I can’t stop thinking about him. I can’t stop thinking about his smile, how people called him the human embodiment of a golden retriever. He’d been the one to teach me how to ride my first bike at the mere age of seven, standing next to me on his blue roller-skates and yelling at me when I fell and scraped my knee. He’d been the one to scold my first ex-boyfriend, his face stoic with no signs of any emotion but anger. I hadn’t noticed how he’d smiled less and less, how he’d lock himself up in his room to play video games for more and more hours at a time. There was a point where I could count how many times I encountered him on one hand.
I can’t hear the sound of his computer anymore. I can’t hear the muffled sounds of rage as he complains about losing a game, or the loud raucous laughter I hear when his friends come over. His room feels frozen in time.
I should have checked up on him. When had everything changed? Why did his smiles start to disappear, and when did he stop talking to others?
The air feels frigid to the touch. I know it’s not coming from outside: I’ve checked the windows multiple times throughout the span of the night. I throw the heavy sheets over my head.
Perhaps if I try hard enough, I can simply disappear.