One Puppy, Two Puppies, Red Puppy… Little Brother?

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Head drooping, shoulders sagging, posture fading
Eyes not daring to meet a greater force—actually, two
Hands fidgeting
Bones quivering
A fluttering hummingbird’s heart within
Sweat beading—painting my forehead, my palms, the nooks and crannies of my body

What was that creature?
So foreign yet vaguely familiar…
Two legs, two arms, one head
Two beady ebony eyes, two chubby cheeks, one semblance of a smile
Two hands, two feet, and hair only on his head
Where was its tail?
Why two legs—why not four?
Layers upon layers of fur, a piercing bark
Missing like the snow from our winter

“Michelle, meet Michael.”
It had a name?
Hands clenched into fists,
Brow furrowed to the point of no relaxation
Eyes reeking of untold promises of an unhappy ending

While the silence began to suffocate
A far too well-known feeling burst from the depths of my throat
A sob
A wailing, screeching sob
I was no longer a body or a person but instead a shaking leaf
Tear drops stained hardwood floor
“That isn’t a puppy!”
A defiant screech bounced off the walls
“I wanted a puppy. A puppy, Mommy. A puppy, Daddy.”

Jumping, trying to touch the ceiling
Screaming, trying to prove an impossible point
Shaking my head, trying to shut out any outside opinions
Insert overwhelming feelings here
Add but a dash of stubbornness
Rinse and repeat
Voilà!
The everlasting temper of a three year-old child, created
Matching birthdays
Was it not the birthday of the squalling, squirming thing in Mommy’s arms?

I was not too young—no, no, no.
Not too young
Me?
The entire world rested in the palm of my hand
My mind knew all
For I understood left and right, up and down, right and wrong
Did Mommy and Daddy forget?
I was not too young
I was just right

But was I?
Was I too young?
Too young to grasp anything?
Yet my fingers reached out to the world around me
To try and get what my little, conceited heart wanted
Only to find something unexpected
But Daddy said, “Life is a box of chocolates.
It will always be unexpected.”

What would constitute as unexpected?
Life is a box of chocolates,
Expect chocolates, no?
Hopeful, tired, exhausted, worn out eyes staring back at me
My glazed gaze piercing right through them
This battle, this stance
Pointless
For I had already won, I proved my point
I deserved a puppy

How could they expect me to accept something I never wanted?
Something I felt that was not needed?
And then—an ear-piercing wail,
A cry loud enough to make the entire planet rumble
Enough to bring the world to a screeching halt
Enough to freeze all the actions being rendered
Enough to divert the attention… from me
Enough to allow me to breathe
Enough to make it feel like a new lung expanded in my chest

Steady, calm, rational
The rain cloud that hovered over me,
Temporarily capping my thoughts, fled
Blink, blink, blink
“Michael?”
A melodious and discordant sound escaped my lips
Dancing on my breath
What were once undecided looks matured into smiles
Eyes twinkling
Tension lifting, laughs erupting
“Yes, Michelle. Michael! Michael! Michael!”

Not a dog but both friend and nuisance
Not a golden retriever but a sweet yet devilish little boy
My little brother
My little brother

It was January 23rd, 2000.
It may have not been the chocolate I was expecting
Oh, no, far from it
Far from the gift I spent hours upon hours hoping for
Yet, all the same, it was sweet—although not sickly sweet—upon my tongue.





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