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  • I'll never forget that day back in '96. It was your usual small town high school party: Beer, Girls and a lot of regret. It was our big end of the year senior bash at the Old Kurtis Barn. I was surrounded by my closest friends and having a blast. My brother Michael who's two years older than me was in the Marine Corp at the time. During his shore leave in the States he liked to hang out with me and all our buddies. Tonight was different. Something just seemed off about him. He wasn't drinking anything, not really talking to anyone unless they approached him first. He seemed so....distant. I had this feeling I needed to talk to him. But I put it off, told myself it was probably nothing. So I just focused all my attention on my girlfriend and my drink. I just about forgot about Michael as the events of the night continued. Up until Sarah showed up.

    You see, Sarah was a really close family friend. Her older brother Josh was Michael's best friend, practically brothers. They enlisted together. Fought together. Bled together. Well, apparently Josh had done a bit more bleeding on his part. Sarah came looking for a good time and there was Michael, breaking the news along with her heart. Poor thing. Josh practically raised her after their dad left. Left for some California Whore.

    Needless to say, she took the news pretty hard. Josh was her everything. She blamed Michael for his death. Said he was always getting Josh into trouble with teachers or even the authorities at some points. He even convinced Josh to enlist. And, naturally, Michael felt the same guilt and blame that Sarah was crying about. She berated him with vulgar names and other horrible, horrible things. He didn't even try stop her. You could almost see each word stabbing him in the gut, drawing more and more tears out of his eyes. She become more enraged with each sentence. It got to the point where she slapped him across the face. That's it, I thought. It's time to leave. I was able to drag Michael out of there with little to no issue.

    The car ride home was silent and awkward. I tried to to play it off with some jokes and small talk. But he just wasn't having it. The next day, I decided I'd take Michael shooting. That always cheered him up. But his bedroom door was closed. That never happens.

    "Hey Michael! Everything okay in there buddy?" No answer. Nothing. Not a sound. "You in there?" I asked as I opened the door. I froze. I opened my mouth to scream but there was nothing. I couldn't bring myself to mutter anything. Tears began to stream down my face as the breeze from the slightly open window caused Michael to sway slowly. All the lights were out and I couldn't even see his face. Just the silhouette. The chair laid there on its side, taunting me to cry out. The outline of the rope connecting to the rafters, the slumped angle of his shoulders. I dropped to my knees and began to scream. I cursed every soldier who has ever waged war, any politician who has ever given an order to fight. And just like that, my brother was taken from me.
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