Every morning your little brother, after slapping down the velcro on his sneakers and pulling on his backpack, grabs his box of crayons and runs to the bus stop. He never waits for you, so as soon as you see those crayons slide off the table and that little hoarse voice calling, “Bye mom!” you have to drop everything and run so he won’t run into the street.
On the bus he shoots straight for the window seat – fourth row, on the right. After he hops up and scoots in, his backpack scraping the dirty green seat backs, you slide in next to him. With a squeak the bus door slams shut. Then, with a puff of air the buss starts to roll forward and you’re off. Your brother’s little fingers cling to the edge of the window as he watches the world go by, mouth hanging slightly open, eyes wide. You watch him watch the houses and sidewalks and trees and occasional dos and you wonder if he’s seeing houses and trees or just blurs of color. Half way to school, though, his fingers start twitching for his crayons. You put a hand on his head. When he looks up at you with curious, innocent eyes you mess his hair and grin. Don’t fall out you tell him. He frowns and whines your name because he’s more careful than that and besides that’s impossible because the window’s closed. You laugh and give him a pat. Then he goes back to gaping out the window and you watch over him until the school bus pulls to the right into the school drop off circle.
When the bus pulls up to your stop you brother climbs over you in a rush to get out. Hurrying behind him on the steps out you yell at him not to do things like that. They hurt. Once you’ve reached the safety of your driveway you stop to pull your pants back straight. While you’re at it you readjust your backpack and unbunch the back of your shirt, then slowly make your way down the driveway, back to your house. Half way down, though, you see your brother. Your stomach drops. In his left hand is his box of crayons, open. His arm hangs limp and the crayons are starting to slide out. In the other hand is his dark blue crayon, his favorite. He holds it up towards the sky, moving it around in lazy circles. Back and forth. Back and forth. Back and forth.
You bite your lip. You rush towards him and grab his shoulder, spinning him around to face you. His arm falls and he drops the crayons, the box. The crayons bounce across the asphalt and skitter down the driveway, chips breaking off, the points dulling down to rounded stubs. Your brother’s head tilts to the side when he looks up at you. His eyes are big, wide, glazed over. And even though he’s looking at you he’s not really looking at you. He’s not even looking past you. You don’t know what he sees and you’re not sure you ever want to know, but if you don’t understand then how will you know what to do, what to say? How do you fix moments like these?
The taste of blood fills your mouth. Deep breath. Two. Three. One more. You let your hand slide off his shoulder. You pick up the crayons. Your carefully fold over the tabs and close the box, because he’s always been picky about things like these. You take one more deep breath. Then you take his hand. Come on, you say. Come on. Let’s go home.