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  • One year, my brother received a telescope for Christmas. The two of us took it outside and stared at the sky for hours. Tom pointed out the Big Dipper and the Little Dipper. Orion was a stretch; no matter how hard I squinted through the lens, I couldn’t see the hunter with the bow. But Tom saw it right away and he was able to tell me something about each star.

    He explained that some of the stars were many times bigger and hotter than the sun. They only looked small because they were thousands of light years away. It confused my ten-year-old mind.

    Tom said that there were theories on alternate worlds—other, faraway planets that mirrored the Earth. “There could be someone just like you someplace else,” he said.

    As I grew older, the idea haunted me. If there was another version of me in another planet, I wondered what language she spoke and if it sounded anything like English. I wondered if she was happy with the way she looked. I wondered if she fought as much with her brother as I did.

    I wanted so much to be closer to that second me, the me that was better, smarter and prettier.

    Surely, in the other world, my brother wouldn’t have been a drunk. He would have taken better care of himself. He wouldn’t have hit me as much.

    Years later, I figured out that the person I wanted to be was somewhere inside me, and not in a far-away universe. But my brother has become a stranger to our family, as elusive as those stars that form the hunter.

    I hope my bipolar brother is OK.

    See more stories from I hope my bipolar brother is OK.

    Image by Sussex-based photographer Duncan Innes.
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