Wrapped in a rough, gray, wool blanket we sit and stare. Buried, the cold bites at our fingertips. The blanket is too small for both of us. He shivers and cups his hands around a breath of warm air. Warm steam heats up his palms. His eyes are dark. I bring my knees up to my chest wishing I could curl up in my mother's arms again. I glance at my brother. The setting sun behind him created a heroic silhouette. His head swifts like stone to me. It's too cold to talk tonight, so I just sit with him and think. I think of the past year. Losing everything, everything except him. I can still see his smiling face promising we'll be ok. I can also remember the terror behind his eyes at mother's funeral. We had nowhere to go, and no other family to depend on. He left school to watch out for me, be there for me and now we're on the street. He begged for money, sometimes all day. I've never seen someone work so hard. Yet here, sitting next to him, I am okay. Against all my logic, I would prefer to be here then anywhere else in the world. Here, sitting next to my superman. My hero. He gave up his whole life to sit here on this corner with me and strive through the cold. I can't count the number of meals he'd given up for me. I can't help but smile. Sitting here, wrapped in his grey cape.
A nearby newspaper rides the wind. It flops to the ground near us. He uncovers himself. I'm shocked by a sudden burst of ice-cold wind. He quickly wraps me back into my cocoon, tucking the blanket tight around my body, and faces the blizzard alone. He grabs the newspaper and rips it. I look on in amazement as he takes the pieces and stuffs it into the little nest he's made for me. Then it becomes clear, he doesn't intend on coming back in. Although his face is frozen he attempts to grin "It was g-getting a little c-crowded in there d-don't you think?" His voice was freezing up on him. A hand falls on my shoulder for support, strength. My eyes water and then freeze. He sits defenseless to the cold, while I'm tucked away in heat. He knew the blanket was too small. So, like many things before, he gave it up for me. "Thank you." My voice cracks. He leans his head on me. His mouth opens to speak but the cold as left him mute. Even though he said nothing, I heard him loud and clear. "I love you too." I whispered. He wrapped his arms around me and held me till numbness turned to sleep.
I awoke to a taxi driving by, a yellow poka-dot on a white canvas. The suns heat brushed across my face. The city still stood tall around me. I survived the endless night. I undo my wool shelter and stand up. My stomach rumbles a bit. Pleading for breakfast. People walk all around me ready to start there busy days. One tall man in a black hat even stepped over my superhero. I pull from inside the blanket a surprise. Something I've been waiting for this very moment to give to my brother. I rotate on my heels and spin. "Hey Johnny! Wake up it's morning!" I Bend down and tug at his sleeve. "Come on sleepy. It's morning." He sat motionless. His chest was stationary and still. My face slumps slightly. "Johnny..." I tug harder at his sleeve. His face is pale. His eyes are dark. My eyes water again. "Johnny... Johnny! Get up. Get up now! I said now!" I push him. I shove him. He sits effortlessly. "Please get up. Please." I grab the newspaper and stuff it into his jacket "Here! You can have it back. I don't want it! Take it back, please." A shimmering trail is left on my face. I lean down and embrace him. I hold him and cry. I sob while people walk on by looking at watches and cellphones and newspapers. All I could think to say is what I was going to say to him anyway. Something I've waited to say to my big hero. I hug him close, place the gift in his lap and whisper in his ear. "Happy birthday Johnny. Happy birthday."