She screamed in terror as he loomed over her, his bared fists mere inches from her tear-stained face.
“If you tell anyone I broke it, you’ll be sorry!” he hissed, but despite the malevolence of his words, she could detect the fear and uncertainty that lurked somewhere behind them.
“Ah, ha!” she thought, sensing an opportunity. Beneath her outward distress, she swiftly began to plot her revenge.
As he turned away, she remained cowed in the corner; the shattered remains of her much loved blue crinolined China doll scattered around her. Suddenly, she bolted past him towards the kitchen.
“Mom, come and see what my brother did … and he said he’d hit me if I told on him”, the little girl chanted, tears and terror now forgotten, vengeance her focus.
“What was that you said to my little sister?” he stormed. “Now say you’re sorry and if I ever find out that you’ve made her cry again, you’ll have me to deal with!”
“It’s okay, little sis, I’ll look after you”. He helped her to her feet, trying to clean the dirt from her dress and spitting on the edge of his shirt to clean her wounds. After satisfying himself that her injuries were merely superficial, he picked up her undamaged bicycle and rescued her school case from the muddy ground before strapping it securely onto her carrier. He then motioned her to climb on.
“No!” she cried, tears glistening in her bright blue eyes. “I’m scared I’ll fall again.”
“But we’ll be late for school and I’ll get another caning”, he pleaded.
“No, please don’t make me, I’m too scared. I know I’ll fall again!” she wailed.
“Okay”, he sighed. “Don’t worry, I’ll walk with you to your school and then ride to mine”, resigning himself to the punishment that his tardiness would certainly evoke.
To anyone who has ever grown up with an older brother, these scenarios will probably ring true. The constant morphing between tormentor and protector, almost schizophrenic in any other relationship, is perfectly normal between brother and sister.
I doubt there’s a sibling alive who hasn’t, at some point in their young lives, wished that they were an only child. It may have something to do with the socialising concept that instantly evokes resentment in the hearts of children … sharing. Having a sibling means constantly having to share everything from parental love and attention to toys and even the last biscuit in the packet. This leads to the words ‘I hate you’ often passing between them while ‘I love you’ is rarely, if ever, uttered.
Despite this love/hate relationship, their time growing up under the same roof, a shared family dynamic and common experiences all work together to form an unbreakable bond that according to Clara Ortega “live[s] outside the touch of time”.
This post is a tribute to all siblings, but especially to the only person still alive who has known me from the day I was born, my big brother.
It’s his 65th birthday today and although to the outside world we are both swiftly aging (hopefully disgracefully), I still see the young boy who tormented and protected me as he grew up in the bedroom next to mine.
To this day he ribs me mercilessly, so I really hope this quote is true:
“What brothers say to tease their sisters has nothing to do with what they really think of them” Esther M Friesner.
Happy birthday, big brother! You will always be my super-hero. I love you.
If you’d like to read more on sibling (mis)adventures, take a look at my post Siblings Unrivalled