Resilient is a personal essay about a newspaper article that portrayed my family as being highly dysfunctional and abusive, while looking at how I saw my family growing up.
Seth begins to hop up and down, babbling incoherently. I tilt my head to one side and laugh softly. He’s adorable.
“What’s with that kid?” a voice says from behind me.
I turn to see a man glaring angrily at Seth. As I look closer, I realize he’s not a man, but rather a teenager, maybe sixteen or seventeen. He looks from Seth to me and repeats his question.
“He’s autistic,” I say, somewhat defensively.
“Oh,” the guy says, “you mean he’s, like, retarded.”
“He’s not retarded,” I shout. “He’s smarter than you, asshole.”
The guy laughs and pushes past me. He stops at the bottom of the stairs where Seth is standing and leans in, muttering something in Seth’s ear. My heartbreaks as the smile vanishes from Seth’s face and he sits down on the bottom step, looking at his feet.
The woman snaps her notebook shut and beams up at me.
“What a great story this is going to make,” she exclaims. “I can’t wait for the three of you to read it. It’s going to be amazing.”
I can’t help but wonder why she can’t find a better word than “amazing.”
“When will it be printed?” my grandmother asks eagerly.
“A couple weeks,” the woman answers.
As the woman continues to talk, I tune out her annoying voice and look up at my brother. Chris is almost eighteen and is growing skinnier by the day. The antipsychotics he is on are eating away at his body, slowly killing him from the inside. But we haven’t figured it out by this point, all anyone knows is that Chris is sick. It will be another three months and twenty pounds before this mystery is solved. In the mean time, I throw him wary glances and wonder what happens next.
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