I overheard the shouting of my older brother, Ramon, and my father. Since it was coming from outside my room, I couldn't make out what they were shouting at each other. I didn't want to anyways.
I covered my ears with my pillow and closed my eyes. I listened instead to my heart as it beat loudly against my chest. I was afraid of what might happen when they stopped shouting.
I was afraid of what might happen to Ram.
When I woke up the next morning, he wasn't at his bed. I went to the bathroom, to the kitchen, and even to the backyard, but I couldn't find him anywhere.
I decided to look for my dad instead. He was sitting on his La-Z-Boy in the living room, watching TV. I asked him where Ram was and he simply replied with, "Gone.
" I couldn't understand, so I asked him a second time. He then turned his head to look at me and said, "He is gone."
When he stood up and walked away towards his room, I followed him. He did not give me the answer I was looking for.
It was very early in the morning which meant I was in a stubborn mood, and at that moment, I wanted answers.
"Where is Ramon?" I asked my father making sure that every word was loud and clear for the old man to hear.
He turned around to face me. The veins on his forehead and his arms bulged and his fists clenched. This was when I realized that I had done the wrong thing.
"That name is not welcome in this house!" he said, raising his voice.
I froze from where I stood. The hairs on my back stood, the ones on my arms, legs, and behind my neck followed. I had never in my whole life seen my father this angry before. It scared me.
But I wasn't scared of him, I was scared of what happened to my brother. What did my father do to my brother?
"What did you do?" I said, my voice small.
His face softened, but not all the way. The anger was still there. "What I had to do."
There was a long silence. We stood there, in the hall, staring into each other.
"Where is he?" I finally managed to say.
He straightened up a bit and inhaled deeply. "Only God knows, Jaime."
I was sick the days after that day. I wasn't eating well, I couldn't sleep, I couldn't think straight. I was worried all the time, and I couldn't spend a single second without feeling that way.
Then came the day when I decided to go to Seven-Eleven thinking that maybe a slushy would make me feel better.
I entered the shop and walked towards the slushy machine normally like I did all the time, and as I was paying for the slushy, I noticed something.
The cashier looked exactly like my brother. I'm hallucinating, I thought. I tried to ignore it, blinked a few times, but suddenly, the man looked at me.
"Jaime?" he said, questionably.
My jaw dropped and my eyes widened.
"I'm not hallucinating," I said, thinking out loud.
"No, you aren't," he smiled.
I leaned in and hugged my brother. He wrapped his arms around me and I hugged him tighter. Tears ran down my cheeks continuously and I couldn't do anything to make them stop.
"Where did you go?" I said in a sob. "I was worried and scared and I didn't know what to do! I missed you so much."
The words just came out of my mouth. I didn't even care what order they came in.
"Can you wait till my shift is done?" he said. I could hear his smile.
I nodded and walked out with my slushy in my hand.
When I was outside, I pondered. I couldn't believe it. That was my brother. That was his voice, his face, his embrace. That was him.
When a few minutes passed, he walked out of the door.
"Hi," I said.
"Hey," he said. "Let's go?"
"Where are we going?" I asked him.
"I'm showing you where I live."
We walked silently until we came across this building. We entered it and went up four flights of stairs. We then walked along a hallway and stopped in front of an emerald green door.
It had a placard on it which said "Diaz" in thick, bold letters and on top of that, number 420 was engraved on the door.
"Mikka!" he called out as we entered.
A second later, a girl with long, brown hair was walking towards us. I analyzed her features because she looked oddly familiar to me.
"Jaime!" she said in glee. It all started to get back to me now, but not totally.
"Do you remember me?" she asked.
I looked up at my brother. "No, he doesn't," he said.
I looked at Mikka. "Oh, shut up," she uttered. "I'm Milo's older sister, remember?"
Yes. Now, I remembered. Milo was the boy my brother always hung out with. I figured they were best friends until he started ignoring my brother.
He used to come to visit us every weekend and we'd play Mortal Kombat or Injustice on my PS4, but then he just stopped visiting. My brother was barely smiling anymore then.
The day Milo visited again was the day my brother was kicked out of the house, and I barely got to see him.
"Yeah, I remember you," I answered Mikka.
"We should probably sit down," my brother said.
We sat on the maroon sofa- me in the middle, of course. Maybe it was old, but it was soft and comfy anyways.
"So," I started. "Who owns this place?"
"We both do," Mikka answered.
"Nah," Ram said. "Mikka does. I just live here and help pay for the water bill."
Mikka laughed. "No, we both live in it and pay for it so we both own it."
"There's the Virgo," Ram said.
"I'm always right," she said, looking at me. "Stereotypically speaking."
"Is that even a thing?" I asked them.
"I dunno, ask her," Ram said, referring to Mikka.
We laughed for a few seconds until I asked them, "So are you guys a thing?"
They both looked at each other. "Not really," Ram shrugged.
We heard the door unlock. "That's probably him," Mikka whispered.
"Who?" I whispered back.
"You'll see," she winked.
The door finally opened and a boy with a brown ponytail entered the room.
"Here come dat boy!" Mikka said, excited.
It wasn't long until I recognized this boy. This boy was Milo.
"Oh, hello Jaime!" he greeted as he dropped his backpack and took his jacket off.
"Hi," I said, still staring at him.
I watched my brother as he walked towards Milo with extended arms. They hugged and exchanged hi's with each other.
"You're cold," I heard my brother say.
"Yeah, it was really cold today. You know how I am with cold weather," I heard Milo whisper.
Ram hugged Milo as they walked towards the couch. Milo sat at the edge of the sofa while Ram sat on the space in between me and Milo.
Milo wrapped his arms around Ren's ribs from behind and buried his face in his back. My brother smiled and put his hands on Milo's.
"Jaime," he started. "You remember Milo, right?"
I nodded. "Are you guys a thing?" I asked them.
"Yeah," he said. "Dad found out."
"Then he kicked you out," I said, finally realizing what happened.
I didn't mind my brother being gay. I didn't mind him liking boys instead of girls. I loved my brother, and he was happy this way. It made me happy, too.