Your breath is heavy as you climb the steps, socks muffling the sound of pattering feet. You climb up to the catwalk above the stage, with a view of the boisterous crowd. But they can't see you. As you reach the top, you walk clear to the center and turn on the spotlight. As it flickers to life, you point it directly to the stage, where someone should be standing. The audience hushes, awaiting the appearance of their star. you unclip the microphone from your belt, and take a deep breath.
"Ladies, gentlemen, people of hopefully all 18+ ages..."
The crowd cheers. You almost smile.
"I have something very special planned for you tonight. This is something that I have been planning for a very long time, and am very excited to finally become reality. "
Again. Cheering. Some look around for you, but they can't see you in the dark catwalk.
" I want you to know that I love you all and that everything that I've achieved is because of you. I wouldn't be anywhere if not for each and every one of you. I'd like you now to reach under your seats. Inside, you will find a sum. Do with this what you'd like. A Christmas gift from me to you."
You pause, hearing a mixture of responses. Gasps, laughter, crying. You have given away your entire fortune, and there's no going back. You wait for silence. You reach into your pocket, and pull out a small remote. When you click it, a spotlight shines on you. The crowd cheers and a tear falls down your face.
"Thank you all so very much."
Then you climb up the railing, spread your arms, and fall.
I was there when you died. I suppose you wouldn't know that. It was my first concert, and I had saved up for a whole year to get a good ticket. I was determined to pay myself. I was only 14. I was in the front rows, but I had never seen so many people in one place. When you began talking, I was so excited. You were my hero. But then the money. I had opened the envelope under my seat to find a $180,000 check, but I was confused. Then I looked up. My breath caught in my throat.
You fell. Suddenly the stadium was screaming, a cacophony of voices. I watched you hit the stage. I almost vomited right there. Some did. When we were escorted out of the stadium, it smelled of rotting food and blood. Everyone was either sobbing or shell-shocked. I was silent, eyed wide, tears drying on my cheeks. I wasn't prepared for this.
You were on headlines all week. Some said you died instantly, some said that you made it to the hospital. Some said it was a hoax to get out of the spotlight. Some said it was an accident. But it wasn't a hoax. It wasn't a mistake. I knew it.
Because you were my brother.
I don't know why you did it. I doubt I'll ever know. You were always so happy. I remember playing with you by the lake when we were kids. It was just us. I was your little brother, and you were my hero. Sometimes I think I understand why you jumped. Once in a while, I think about trying to see you again, but then I think, 'He wouldn't want that for me. He'd want me to live a good life.' And I've been trying. I swear, I have been. But I don't know if I can do it anymore, but I keep going because of you! And sometimes, you make me so angry. I wish I could see you, just so I could punch you in the face, because I hate how much I love you. I hate how much influence you have on me. I hate that you left me. You left me alone. How can I still love you after all you've done?
I'm sorry. Maybe you really were suffering, and I was just too stupid to see it. Maybe I could have done something. In some ways, it seems so much like something you would do. One final prank. Going out with a bang. But that doesn't change how much I miss you, Bro. It's been nearly ten years, and I miss you more than anything else. And someday, I'll see you again, I promise. Oh, and Abby is two now. She loves hearing stories about her uncle! I wish you could have met her and Gloria. You would love them.
I know I tell you all of this every time I visit, but it's all I have. I brought flowers, too. I hope you like them.
See you soon,