(OOC: This is an essay I wrote for school. So bare it with me, I know it's awful and short. Also at the end, there's a not-so hidden message which was supposed to be the moral of the story, but I completely messed up my chance to make it the clear focus.) "How has violence effected your life?" I sighed and slammed my notebook on the kitchen table while groaning. It was a Monday afternoon, and I was writing a short essay that was due by the end of the week. I had finished all my homework half an hour ago, and decided to get a headâ€˜s start on everything so I wouldnâ€˜t have to worry about it later on. By "head's start" though, I really meant "writing the first sentence of the essay, then forgetting it the rest of the week and having to do the rest at the last minute." Hooray for me, I'm such a hard worker. I really didn't care about school, but my older brother Andy wanted me to be able to have a good education, attend college, get a good job, and then have a happy life. Of course, maybe I'd achieve all four of those tasks if it wasn't for the fact that every assignment I've been given was about something personal. I guess it had something to do with what happened about 3 years ago. I was walking to the park with my family - Mom, Dad, Andy and I. I could still remember what we all wore back then, what were our mannerisms back then, all that kind of stuff. Mom was a beauty, with brown hair, rosy cheeks, and pale green eyes. Back then, Dad didn't reek of alcohol, he actually looked his age, beardless and his hair was a messy chestnut color, rather than nowadays with his dull gray hair, 5 o'clock shadow, and heavy bags under his eyes. Andy had a kind of bright glow to him, as if he had a bit of sunshine around him. As for me, I was innocent, bubbly, and constantly smiled. My mother then went to the ATM around the street corner for change. We waited for her until a few minutes later, when we heard a mixture of the two things that haunt me to this day: my mother's screams, and the sound of a gunshot. Everything else was a complete blur except for the sirens blaring, the flowing tears in my brotherâ€˜s eyes, and the fact that I was clinging onto my fatherâ€˜s shirt and screamed that mom wasnâ€˜t dead and that it was all a dream. "If only that were true," I said to myself. "Then maybe dad would stop making his 8 to 12 hour trip to the bar, and Andy wouldn't have had to drop out of high school last year...and maybe we wouldn't have had to move to this rundown place." It was almost as if our lives were some kind of tragedy movie produced purely for profit. "Hey, there's no point in viewing the glass as half empty, Lissy." Hearing a familiar voice, I was suddenly hit in the back of my head, which caused me to slam my face into my notebook. I rubbed the bump on my head and turned around. I shouted, "Ow! Would you stop greeting me with a whack in the head every time you get home, Andy? It really hurts, you know! Also, stop calling me Lissy!" He looked at me with a nonchalant gaze and replied, "Maybe when you stop giving me reasons to bop you in the head with my fist of divine punishment. And I'll stop calling you Lissy when you stop calling me Andy." I scoffed at him. "Well, Andrew, since when was that puny hand of yours the â€˜Fist of Divine Punishment'? Mom's not going to be too happy up there when she finds out that you, a 18 year old gentleman that she herself raised, are assaulting me, your poor 13 year old little sister." Rolling his eyes and ignoring my first statement, Andy retorted, "Just like Mom's not going to be too happy up there when she finds out that you're not doing your homework, Melissa?" "I finished my homework a while ago. It's this stupid essay that has got me stumped, Andy," I said, sighing and throwing myself onto the kitchen chair. "It's not even due tomorrow, and I'm worrying about it. It's not even an essay, just more like a short summary of your feelings or something of the sort." I looked at my composition notebook, then at the peach colored wall. Blowing away the brown strands of hair blocking my eyesight, I rapidly tapped on the dull mahogany table five times and continued to stare at the papers of my copybook, hoping that my essay would write itself. Andy peered over my shoulder and read aloud what was written. "How has violence affected your life?" Andy paced back and forth for a minute or two, then snapped his fingers and put a hand on my shoulder. "Well Lissy, we have an important example of that right there. Ever since mom was shot, Dad became so traumatized by the whole thing that he became an alcoholic. To help support what's left of the family, I threw away my education and started working, and your attitude and personality has changed by the fact that you witnessed Mom's death while you were still young, although you didn't really see it for yourself," he said. I shook my head and balled my hands into fists. "I can't just write about what happened to Mom. I'm not going to let anyone in school know that I'm weak, that I still cry at night about that incident three years ago. What if they make fun of me because I show a tiny bit of the fact that I'm still scared of what happened back then?" Andy sat down on a chair next to me and gave me a reassuring look in his eyes. "And since when has that ever let you down? So what if you show some emotions? We're human. Hey, you know what? If you finish this essay today, I won't get on your back about schoolwork for the rest of this week." I shook my head again, although my expression lightened. "Nah, I'll pass up that offer. But thanks though, Andy." Andy smiled and walked out of the kitchen. "Anytime, Lissy. Anytime," he replied. I looked back at my notebook, back at the question. Besides dad and how the way we lived spiraled downhill, maybe things didn't turn out as bad as I had thought. I closed my eyes, look a deep breath, and wrote down my feelings. "Violence has affected me in many ways, though mostly negative. Because of violence, I may never get to see my mother again until for how long. My father became an alcoholic and spends his days mourning. My brother has lost all his duties as a son and a student, and is now working in various part time jobs to pay the bills and take care of me and my dad. As for me, what used to be a pure and innocent little girl is now a depressive and hardened person with a harsher outlook on life. What seemed like a pleasant day to go to a park became a day of tears and blood. Violence can ruin a family, like mine, but one thing positive that has become of violence is that it has taught me to be closer to my family. That is how violence has affected me."