It was a dark and stormy night, and I lay with my eyes squeezed tightly shut. The lightning flashed so brightly I could see it through my eyelids. I burrowed deeper into my blankets. A deafening peel of thunder rolled across the sky, and I let out a small whimper. My imagination got the better of me, and I began to hear things outside the window. The howling wind became a werewolf, searching for its next victim, the tree scraping on the window was some dark stranger trying to get inside.
"Itís only a storm, itís only a storm, itís only a storm..." I whispered to myself, and clutched my teddy bear tighter. I almost died when I heard the voice, before realising it was just my brother.
"Are you okay?" He whispered across the room.
I just whimpered again, too afraid to talk.
I could hear him climbing out of his bead on the other side of the room, before I felt his hand tugging at the blankets and slipping in beside me. He cuddled up to me and I relaxed. No words were said, and I eventually fell asleep again, even though the thunder was still crashing overhead.
There is no other way to describe it. My brother is special.
There are times when he is like a knight in shining armour to me, protecting me and making everything better. He is my shield and my sword, and in these times I feel safe. He is also the best artist I have ever seen. He can draw anything I ask, bunnies, cartoon characters...and he draws his toys and cars and trucks so well they look real. He understands complicated science concepts, and is always asking Dad how things work, and he sometimes even shows me.
However, there is another side to my brother. A darker secret, hidden inside.
There is a dragon curled up inside of him, one with a fiery temper and no sense of how others feel. This Dragon cannot relate well to other people, and it makes it difficult for him to make friends. My brother tries his hardest to keep the Dragon in check, locked up inside but often he will lose control slightly, and Mum or Dad will have to help him calm it down. Sometimes it escapes entirely and... I donít like to talk about that.
My family are special too. We are his protectors; the only ones other than him that know how to treat the Dragon properly, to calm it down and to understand it. Well, other than some of his teachers at school, though most of them donít really get it. I know I shouldnít, but itís like a game to me. Sometimes I taunt the Dragon inside, see how close I can get to waking it up, with out my brother loosing control. I can see the flashes of it in his eyes, heíll tell me to leave him alone. But I push him just that little bit further, stand closer to the edge of the cliff, and tempt the Dragon just a little bit more.
Sometimeís heíll hit me. Other timeís heíll yell. Normally I can run to the bathroom fast enough to lock myself inside, or get to the safety of Mum or Dad before the Dragon gets me. After a few seconds though, my brother will have the Dragon under control again, and weíll go back to watching TV, or playing Nintendo together.
Then there are the other times. When the Dragon is set free.
I sat in the family room, watching TV. Sponge Bob Square Pants, and it was one of my favourite TV shows. It was especially fun to watch on a Saturday afternoon, when I had nothing better to do. My brother was having a bad day. Mum and Dad had thrown out the old couch because it was sagging in the middle, and bought a new one. The Dragon didnít like change, and he had been restless all day. I knew that today was not a good time to taunt the Dragon, because then it could get free. But what happened wasnít my fault.
Like I said, my brother had had a bad day. Heís just come back from seeing his doctor, and was, if it was possible, in a worse mood than before. He slammed the door on his way in, and stormed into the family room.
"Give me the remote," He demanded.
"No. I was here first. Iím watching Sponge Bob." I said, even though Mum had warned me that he was in a bad mood, and that I shouldnít do anything to aggravate him. I wasnít in the wrong, anyway.
"Give me the remote!" He whinged, and tried to snatch it away from me.
I clambered up, and ran to the other side of the couch. "Mum!" I screamed the word as if it was a magic incantation, with the power to save me from any trouble.
Normally he would back off if I called for Mum, but today heíd had a bad day. Today the Dragon was going to escape; I saw it in his eyes. "Mum!" I cried, more desperately this time, as the Dragon advanced on me. It punched me in the stomach, and I whimpered, like on that stormy night when my brother had saved me from my fear. Now the Dragon was the cause of it. It punched me again and again, until my mother came and pulled it away from me. It struggled, and spat at her, but she held on tight. My Dad came in and picked it up, and carried it to my brotherís room. It started to scream.
My Mum held my hand, and sat with me in my room for a while. Sometimes, when the Dragon is really angry, I have to go to my Auntís house. Once I even stayed for the night. But normally my brother has control of it again after a little while. The screaming stopped, and my Mum left to check on my brother. He was crying, sad for what he had done, and wanted to apologise to me. I forgave him, because I knew it wasnít his fault. I love my brother because he loves me, and I know itís not his fault; that even though he tries, sometimes he has no control over the Dragon that is inside. And I know that he is special, and that we must protect him, just as he protects me.
Written by Mieka, a 16 year old who is reflecting on her feelings about growing up with her older brother identified with Asperger Syndrome.