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To Love A Brother
At age eighty I sat next to an elderly man on a park bench where we usually meet every Thursday at seven o’clock in the late afternoon. We sat amongst other old folk who were holding leisurely conversations and relaxing in the warm summer evening, but silence pierced the veil of conversation. We had fought again over an insignificant matter, and the tension was building up, bubbling to the point of screaming just to let out some emotion. As we sat there, I realized I had probably never heard a silence quite so loud until a gentle breeze whispered through my thinned hair. That breeze sent me reminiscing in childhood memories.
It was a Thursday evening and Bryan and I were playing down by the creek in our backyard. He liked to look at all the things living in it: the birds, the frogs, the fish, and the bugs. Despite his incessant teasing, I would always refuse to approach any nearer than a foot away from the edge of the water.
“Come over here and look at these little frogs!” Bryan shouted from the brook.
I took two steps back unwilling to move any closer at the mention of those slimy amphibians. I debated running back into the house to avoid his harassment. If I didn’t go into the creek, he would bully me into it even if I was the older one.
When he noticed I’d regressed from my previous position, he yelled, “Come on you scaredy-cat! Why are you so afraid of getting a little wet? You’re such a baby sometimes. No, just kidding – you’re such a girl! I wish I had a brother instead of you. He wouldn’t be such a wimp about getting close to these frogs.”
“You’re being a meanie; quit it,” I retorted, but nevertheless I took a few reluctant steps forward. As I slowly inched forward, I noticed some pretty wild flowers growing by the edge. There were some buttercups, daisies, dandelions, and some flowers I wouldn’t be able to identify even today. Intrigued, I squatted down and made my way to the flowers.
“Bryan, I’m going to pick these flowers for Mommy. She’s going to love me more than you because you’re dumb. All you look at are those dumb frogs, and they’re not even pretty!” I snickered and began my flower picking. I held as many little flowers as I could pluck from the ground, and by the end I held a sizeable bouquet of weeds and wildflowers in my small hand.
“Those flowers are ugly,” Bryan said, “If you’re going to give her something, you should give her something interesting. I’ll bring Mommy a frog. I bet she’ll like it a lot better than your stupid flowers.”
“No she won’t!” I whined, “She loves flowers. Plus they’re from me. She likes me better than you.”
“No she doesn’t Rachel. Why are you such a liar? I’ll race you to the house,” he declared, and sprinted off with a head start with the little frog in hand.
“That’s not fair you cheater!” I yelled as I ran after him with the flowers in my grasp. I ran as fast as my legs would let me so I could reach my mother first to show her the pretty flowers I had picked especially for her. Unfortunately, Bryan had beaten me to the house, and I arrived in time to see him present the slimy little frog to my mom. She laughed and said thank you but told him to release it back down by the creek. Then it was my turn to show her my flowers.
“Mommy, mommy, look at the flowers I picked for you! I love you!” I said excitedly believing that she would prefer my gift over Bryan’s.
“Oh, they’re so pretty!” she exclaimed. I glanced over at Bryan triumphantly until she added, “I love both of your gifts so much! They’re both amazing, and I love you too! Rachel, go back out with Bryan and help him release the frog.”
Bryan and I walked back outside slowly in disbelief. Didn’t she like my flowers better than that ugly thing? Maybe she was just trying to be nice, but she looked like she meant what she said.
“She liked Benny best,” Bryan said to me.
“What? Who is Benny?”
“The frog. I named him Benny. He’s cute, look how small he is.”
“Well then Benny’s a gross little frog. He’s ugly too.”
“You’re just jealous because Mommy liked Benny better.” he said smugly.
I glared at him, and responded with something along the lines of calling him a bad name which he only returned back at me. The rest of the way down to the creek we walked in silence. Bryan released Benny and we both sat down on the hill staring into the sun set.
The evening sky was a masterpiece that had been painted, and not even the best artist could achieve an equivalent beauty. A warm pink dusted the horizon with slight tints of red around the edges of the sun. The purple blended and transitioned with the pink creating a beautiful variety of colors. The blue was slowly fading into the purple, and the clouds were wispy and cotton-like.
As Bryan and I sat there ogling at the magnificence of the phenomenon we were experiencing, he turned towards me and apologized for saying all those mean things. I accepted his apology, and in turn, I apologized for the same things.
“Best friends?” I asked him.
“Definitely,” he answered.
We then hugged, and in that embrace all of our love, friendship, and trust was exerted into the atmosphere. At that very moment, a warm summer breeze whispered through our hair while we shared that phenomenal moment.
I snapped out of my trance then, returning back to reality at the chess table. I looked up at the sky to view a similar sunset that I had experienced so long ago.
“I just remembered something from way back when,” I said softly.
“Me too. It was beautiful.”
I turned to face the old man sitting next to me, and when our eyes met, I knew he was remembered the same exact moment.
“Best friends?” Bryan asked me.
“Definitely,” I replied.