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My mom is lathering shampoo in her hands to put on my head and Ben is rinsing the shampoo out of his own hair. He fills up a big yellow plastic cup and lifts it above his head with both hands. He turns the cup over and the water cascades down his head, splashing all over me too. I giggle and splash him back. Ben flashes me a gap toothed grin and gets ready to do it all over again.
I’m sitting at the dinner table, gobbling down a piece of chicken after a long swim practice. The shouting began from upstairs where Ben and Mom were sitting at the computer. They had just lost an auction on ebay for a book about trains that my brother desired.
“This is all your fault!” Ben screams.
I can hear his voice crack, a sure sign that tears are coming and the fight is just beginning. I put my fork and knife down and look towards the stairs. I see Ben come running down, still screaming. He shouts that Mom always screws everything up as he runs towards his room. Mom comes down the stairs after him, trying to talk some sense into him.
“Ben, we got outbid. It’s okay.”
“No, it’s not okay!”
With that, I hear a crash and run over to see Ben’s desk chair lying across the room, four holes the size of its legs in the wall behind it. Ben proceeds to yank the drawers out of the dresser and scatter clothes everywhere. One of the drawers ends up out the window and in the backyard.
Then Ben turns around. The look in his eyes is almost savage.
I back out of his doorway and into the living room. He stalks out of his room, Mom still following, shouting for him to stop.
Ben slams his hands into the couch, pushing it right over and throwing the cushions all around the room.
“No!” My dad shouts, coming up behind Ben.
Dad wraps his arms around Ben as he reaches to tip the loveseat over. Ben struggles trying to break free. They stumble into the dining room where they fall on the floor. Dad is now sitting behind Ben, still trying to subdue him.
“Benjamin, stop!” He yells, voice muffled by Ben’s shoulder.
My pants are soaked with rainwater and my feet are swimming inside my rain boots. Ben jumps up and down in the foot deep puddle, spraying water everywhere. I begin to do the same, bending my knees and springing out of the water as high as I can. I crash back into the puddle, sending water everywhere. It forms a halo around my brother and me before falling back to the ground. Ben smiles out from under the hood of his navy blue raincoat and jumps back up into the air.
Ben continues to yell and kicks out, sending the dining room table across the room. Plates and utensils fall everywhere. A large knife falls off the table, landing right next to my brother.
I watch in silence as Ben makes a wild grab for the knife. Dad’s eyes go wide and he screams voice full of fear.
“Lori, get the knife! Lori now!”
I watch my mom, eyes also fearful, dart in next to Ben and grab the knife as he makes a second attempt to reach it. She runs and puts it in a drawer.
“Sarah, go upstairs,” she says to me.
The look in her eyes tells me not to argue and I run up to my parent’s bedroom.
For the next half hour I listen to crashes and screams from downstairs. I stand on the balcony and look up at the moon wishing it would come down, sweep me up and take me away from here.
I look at my brother’s angry eyes as we sit at the kitchen table.
“She has no right to say those things about you,” he says to me. “It’s slander.”
I just nod, tears still trailing from my eyes. I wipe my nose on my sleeve.
“Seriously. You should just tell them they’re uninvited to your Bat Mitvah. If you don’t I will. They can’t say those kind of things about my sister and get away with it. I don’t care if she’s your best friend.”
I look up at Ben and nod again. The angry glint in his eyes is gone and has been replaced by a gentle, protective stare.
Finally my mom comes upstairs.
“Come outside. I’m calling the police,” she says.
Her eyes are red and puffy and I follow her in silence. As we run outside I stop to look at my dad and brother.
They are still struggling on the floor, surrounded by couch cushions and broken household items. I step outside and listen to Mom talk to the dispatcher. I can hear her, but can’t make out what she’s saying. Everything seems blurry and I fall back onto the grass, staring up at the sky once again.
When the police come, Ben calms down immediately. He sits on the living room floor and hangs his head in shame as the police tell him they’ll have to arrest him if this happens again.
When they leave, Ben goes to work returning the couches to their original places and cleaning up the broken dishes. He pauses and looks up at me. In his eyes I see a mix of sadness, shame and a plea for forgiveness. I look at him for a moment, then turn and walk away.