December 1, 2000
It's true; little brothers can be annoying, and we all know that. They scream, they cry. Face it, they are just plain distracting. This story is about a girl who lives with her annoying little brother in her family's cozy house in Maine. But you must understand this is not the same kind of little brother you're thinking about. This is a very different kind of little brother, very different.
--- Copyright© 1999 Megan Hertler
Ashley walked through the battlefield. Dead warriors surrounded her, some missing heads, others, missing arms and legs. That's when she saw him, Teddy, lying butchered among the wreckage.
"Mooooommmmmmm!!" she screeched.
"What is it honey?" her mother, Mrs. Johansson, came dashing up the stairs and into Bobby's room.
"He, he" Ashley stammered, "he killed Teddy in his stupid warrior game!"
Ashley was obviously devastated by the death of her beloved teddy bear.
"Oh, honey," her mother cooed, "I'm so sorry, I know how much you loved that teddy bear."
"Loved it?" Ashley screamed, "Mom, I got that bear the day I was born! Ten thousand memories just went down the drain, and do you care? I don't think so!"
"Honey, you know I care, and so does Bobby. You know he can't help what he does."
"Well, he better learn how to fast, because I can't take it anymore."
Ashley had definitely lost her temper, and she knew it. She couldn't help it though; she loved that bear. Just then she heard Bobby coming up the stairs. She knew it was him because she heard him talking to himself-or-as he put it, to his "friends."
"Yeah, A.J., let's go finish our warrior game," Bobby said.
She heard, and then in a deeper voice,
"Yeah, that sounds like fun, Bobby!" said AJ.
AJ was Bobby's "best" friend. AJ only had one fault. She wasn't real. Bobby had tons on invisible friends that he always managed to get into deep conversations with.
Ashley found this quite annoying. She thought Bobby did these things on purpose just to annoy her! Ashley looked at her mom and rolled her eyes. She hated his "friends" almost as much as she hated him.
Just then Bobby came bursting into his room. "What did you do to my battlefield?" He sounded very distressed.
"I'm cleaning your room like mom told me to, duh," Ashley said in a tone that clearly stated, "Boy, are you dumb, or what?"
"Why are you cleaning up my battlefield? I was in the middle of defeating the Giant Robot Teddy Bear!" Bobby exclaimed.
"You mean my teddy bear! What were you doing in my room anyway? Only I am allowed in my room! Doesn't that make sense at all in your tiny brain?" Ashley was yelling now. Anger was building up in her throat and she could feel her face growing red.
That's when her mother decided to break things up. "Okay you guys, calm down. Bobby, you have a doctor's appointment, and Ashley, you need to finish cleaning this room."
"But mom, why can't he clean his own room? He is eleven years old, you know."
"Honey, we have had this talk before, "You know he can't do that for himself. Now, we'll be back in about three hours. Relax, okay? You seem really stressed."
Mrs. Johansson was okay. She always tried to be comforting, and to give Ashley her fair share of love and attention even though Bobby took up so much of it.
After her mom and brother left, Ashley continued to clean "the junk yard," as she called it, mumbling to herself the entire time about how lazy Bobby was. She came across so much debris that she couldn't believe it. She uncovered his old Nintendo system, and underneath it, an old, wooden beaded necklace.
She studied the necklace, and noticed something strange, almost magical about it. Slowly, she began to remember........
The little red light above the automatic door blinked as they approached it, and the doors suddenly jolted open. Ashley hated the smell of hospitals. She hated being in hospitals. It was almost like she could feel the pain and death around her. When they came to a door that read, "Dr. Baker," Ashley shuddered. This was not where she wanted to be.
"This is the place," Ashley's mom said, her voice unavoidably shaking, "Pray for the best."
"She's nervous," Ashley thought, "why is she nervous? We both know that there is nothing wrong with him."
They walked through the door to see Dr. Baker starring at them sternly from his desk, "Ah, the Johansson's," he said in monotone, "I have some unfortunate news for you. Your son Bobby has been diagnosed with Autism, a mental disability."
Ashley shuddered. "Stupid doctor," she thought out loud. She hated that doctor. She looked down at the necklace. "And to think, after he ruined her life, he had the nerve to
give Bobby a stupid wooden bead necklace, meant for a girl. Yeah, right. That makes it so much better, thank you Dr. Idiot!"
Ashley snapped out of her memory. In a sudden fit of anger, she thrust the old necklace over her head. Suddenly, everything went black. When she opened her eyes, she realized that a figure was standing over her. It was a girl with dark brown hair spilling over her shoulders. In fact…the girl looked a lot like...HER!
She reached up to her head to feel her own strangely short hair. A sudden shock shot up through her body…something was very wrong.
"Bobby, hey Bobby! Get up! Did you fall asleep again? Why do you always do that?" asked the new Ashley.
The words echoed in her head. "Um, um, I don't know. Am I Bobby?" she silently thought to herself, "Oh my gosh! I must be Bobby!"
The realization was too much for her, and she felt a very bad headache coming on.
"Hey, for once," mumbled the new Ashley, "why don't you clean your own room?" Then she turned and left, mumbling something about being back in five minutes.
"How could this have happened?" she asked herself out loud.
"It must have been the necklace!" said a voice.
"Who said that?" she asked the air, feeling frightened.
"It's me, A.J., don't you recognize me?" asked the voice.
"Great!" She said in response, "I don't know who I am and NOW I'm hearing voices!"
"Oh yeah!" the voice came again, "You aren't Bobby are you? I saw what happened with the necklace! Gee, you sure do look a lot like Bobby now!"
"Who are you?" The confused Ashley-or Bobby, you could say- asked, exasperated.
"I'm AJ! Nice to meet you!" The voice sounded excited now. Ashley could just picture a young girl holding out her hand in a greeting.
"A.J.? You're real? Oh my gosh!" said Ashley, suddenly remembering that she only had five minutes to get some work done. "Listen, I've gotta clean my room."
"Okay," said A.J., "I'll help."
Ashley reached for a toy, and began to put it away, but her head was whirling, she couldn't think of where it belonged. "Um, um, A.J., where does this go?" she asked, thinking maybe her brother's friend was smarter than he.
Just then she heard an annoyed sigh from the doorway, and turned to see the new Ashley leaning against the frame.
"Talking to your self again, I see," she said.
"I'm not! I'm talking to A.J.," she tried to explain, "She's really real! I'm, I'm, I was trying to clean up but, ah, I'm." Her mind just wasn't working. She could feel tears welling up in her eyes. All she wanted to do was impress the other Ashley!
"You're stupid is what you are!" The other Ashley yelled. "You can't even clean your own room!"
"Stupid? I'm stupid? Why do you say I'm stupid? I was just trying to…I just wanted to…"she stuttered, but that was it. She couldn't take anymore. Tears spilled out of her eyes. She reached up to feel the wooden beads around her neck. With a loud wail, she gave the beads a hard tug, and once again, everything went black.
Suddenly, she was back in Bobby's room. The other Ashley had disappeared from the doorframe.
"A.J.?" she called. No answer. "Phew! I'm back." She said out loud, and felt relieved. Suddenly she realized that her face was wet with tears. She had really been crying. She looked around. The wooden beads scattered all around.
She now knew why her brother was the way he was, and with a sudden feeling of guilt, realized all the torture that she had put him through. With a smile on her face, she reached for a toy, and placed it on the shelf where it belonged.
"Don't worry Bobby," she said out loud as if he were standing there in front of her, "things are gonna be different from now on."