Alright folks, here it is, the beginning of my first book. This is really just an introduction or prelude to chapter 1. I am very tentative about putting this out there for you all to read, but I want to know what you think. Please give me your opinion. Do I give away too much? Do I need to change the angle? Just general thoughts. Please be gentle. Thank you.
Working Title: Good Time Charlie
He stood at the baggage claim area, leaning against a pillar, his eyes closed. He was asleep. My mother was standing next him, waiting for me to get off of the airplane from Virginia. He awoke as he heard my mother greeting me and his face lit up with a huge smile. “My sister Hilary!” he said as he gave me a long warm hug. He was still half-asleep, but he knew who I was and was happy to see me. My mother said that he was taking pain medication for his arthritis, and it made him sleepy.
We grabbed my bag from the carousel and began walking to the car. I watched as Todd shuffled through the airport, hunched over from arthritis neck and back pain, so groggy he was almost sleep-walking, barely picking up his feet as we made our way to the short-term parking lot. I could not believe how much my older brother had changed since I had last seen him, just a year ago.
I knew that his memory was going. Mom said he had been forgetting even the most basic things for years. It started with his dancing. Todd loved to dance and throughout our teen years and even into his twenties he took Jazz, Tap, and Ballet. He would perform with his dance troop each year at the annual recital, and almost always had one or two solo performances. But as he got older, he began to forget the dance moves more and more. He became frustrated and quit. That was nearly 20 years ago. Slowly, almost unnoticeably, he began forgetting other things.
Todd is one of those people who must have everything neat and clean. Pictures had to be aligned with the tables’ edge and those tables had to be dusted. He loved to fold the laundry, sharpening the corners squarely and neatly stacking like-items together. He would clean up dirty dishes and painstakingly organize them into the dishwasher: all bowls together, all teacups together, all dinner plates together. He would even organize the dirty silverware into individual slots. Any time you were halfway through a drink and it went missing when you stepped away for a second, you knew that Todd had snatched it up and put it into the dishwasher. He loved to put the clean dishes away, too, meticulously organizing them onto their shelves. However, when he could no longer remember where the dishes belonged, my mother knew something was wrong.
Sitting here, looking at him now, I could hardly believe what had become of my ever-smiling and effervescent older brother. He had changed so much since I had last seen him, just a year ago.
You probably would not believe me if I told you that he took horseback riding lessons for many years, learning to ride in the English style saddle. You probably would not believe that he taught himself sign language while watching Public Television programs. You probably would not believe that he mainstreamed into the middle school and graduated with his eighth grade class. And, you definitely would not believe that he once danced across the stage at the Kennedy Center Library. But he did. My brother, you see, was born with Down syndrome.