Date of Award
Dr. Amy Sonheim
Mr. Eric Phillips
Dr. Sara Hubbard
From the Prologue:
My brother was my favorite person growing up. Even though I was ten years younger than him, he was my best friend. He never yelled at me to stop messing with his stuff, never pushed me or hit me or told me to shut up. When I had nightmares and came running into his room at three in the morning, he never complained, just moved over so I could sleep with him. He let me hang out with his friends when they came over, and played tea parties and dress-up when they left. When he got a new car for his sixteenth birthday, I was the first in it with him, even before his girlfriend. He was the best big brother in the entire world.
The day after his seventeenth birthday my brother disappeared.
I was seven years old.
I was the last to see him. I snuck into his room after Mom had gone to sleep so I could give him his present: an ashtray I had made in art class. It was supposed to be a turtle, his favorite animal, but it looked more like a glob of snot and I didn't think he'd like it. He just laughed and told me it'd make a fantastic bookend, winking and reminding me to keep it our little secret (Mom didn't know he smoked). He ruffled my hare and told me to go to bed. I said goodnight and closed the door, no idea that'd be the last time I'd see him.
I repeated the same story to the four cops and two detectives who handled my brother's case, and when I finished each one asked the same questions: "Did you notice anything strange about your brother? Was he acting differently?" I didn't have an answer for them. My seven-year-old self hadn't noticed anything out of the ordinary. For years I racked my brain, reliving that night over and over again, certain I had missed something crucial, the key to the puzzle that could bring my brother back.
When I was seven years old, my brother disappeared.
Ten years later, I disappeared too.
Howard, Raley, "Erased" (2013). Honors Theses. 3.