I’m pivoting from filmmaking. It’s served me well but my love is the story. In that spirit, I’m attempting a short story a week. No genre is safe. Here we go.
Saturday morning, I woke to the sounds of a large truck driving down our road. It was early, but my brother had been up for hours. He was nine, and I was six, and he slept half what I did. He crunched on his third bowl of Golden Grahams, poured me a bowl, and smiled. That look he gave me? I couldn’t place it, but tears followed. When I stood up, he hugged me.
I was weirded out and offered, “Wanna watch the smurfs?” That was the summer when the Smurfs would be on for an hour and a half. The 80s had a strange idea of what kids liked. My brother got off on watching the commercials and shaking his head like an older man. The whole time I thought he was putting me on. What was his deal?
He played the same game with the parents and wrapped his arms around for a super uncomfortable hug. They reminded him a hug isn’t going to get him out of playing his baseball game that day.
“I can’t wait,” he said. What was his deal? He hated playing, and he needed me to show him where his uniform was. How to wear it? During the game, he was up yelling, clapping, and plotted out strategy better than the coach.
After the game, he hung out with friends for a bit in the field. I didn’t see any hugs, but back at home, there were plenty more — hugs for the chicken and dumplings. Dad jokes got hugs too. It was weird, but it was odder when people worry about you when you’re more thankful.
We, more or less, stayed in the same room all afternoon as if there was a magnetic draw. We built models and talked about Star Wars and the Phillies. Dad played Beethoven. My brother always went unhinged when Dad played that old, annoying music; today, he didn’t. He even told me to be ready for his favorite part of the song. I didn’t complain, and mom pretended to read a book, but she was studying us.
Before it was dark, my brother wandered off to the part of the yard where we always find old rusty silverware and glass. I watched him for a while before returning to the TV room. He came back in looking like someone who won the lottery but could tell no one. I couldn’t keep my eyes off him, nor could the parents.
My brother saved the strangest moment for the end of the day. When it was time to go to bed, he came in to say goodnight and had something for me.
“Did you find something in the yard?” I asked.
He raised his eyebrows, and he smiled with unblinking eyes before exiting the room. I stood utterly still for the twenty seconds he was gone, and when he returned, he brought with him an old rebook shoebox.
He passed the closed box to me with the first familiar look of the day, a smile. That unblinking smile and a wee bit of a head shake to warn me I wasn’t ready for the box. When I peeled the lid back, I screamed. My brother gave me a box containing a small black and red snake with two heads.
“You never believed me,” he laughed and left the room. I covered the two-headed snake and tossed the box on to my bed.
If you could relieve any day in your life, which day would you pick?