My brother was always a meanie-head.
I remember wanting to be cool like him, wrestling with his friends in the arena and playing X-Box in his room with the door closed. I could hear them laughing, yelling, and knocking things over wherever they went.
I would be playing in my room when I would hear their whoops and shuffling through my window. I was on the other side of the house, but that’s how loud they were. This would either entice me enough to emerge from my room, or further push me into the depths of my imagination in my safe haven when their voices were harsh.
Sometimes I gathered the courage to ask to play, too.
“Kaleo!” I would call from the arena gate, gazing at them as they tackled each other and sand flew every which way.
He would usually either ignore me or tell me to get out of there, so I would end up slinking away, either up a tree or back to the house, so I could complain to my mother.
The answer seemed to always be clear: No.
If I asked to hang out in the same room as him and his friends: No, usually followed by a chorus of agreement from his clan of buddies.
If I wanted to go next door with him to visit one of his best friends: No, leaving me where I was as he trekked off to some great adventure.
My brother didn’t really care about me.
One night, the monsters in my head kept me awake, as usual. Everything was silent and dark because my dad didn’t stay up to watch late night TV like he normally did. My door was wide open to the pitch dark of the house, and the fear was stifling.
I crept to my brother’s room and padded across his carpet, trying not to wake him up as I crawled onto his bed where it was safe. As I tried to stealthily make myself comfortable, my brother shifted.
In the dark, everything seemed muted. I could hear my brother moving under the thick covers as he turned to face where I was lying down and breathing shallowly, hoping he would fall back asleep.
“Faith,” he said groggily.
I stayed as still as I could.
“I know you’re in here,” he said, reaching out in the blackness and smacking my arm with his hand.
I held my breath and awaited his sharp voice that would command me to leave his room.
Instead, he said, “Why are you in here?”
“I’m scared,” I whispered.
There was a pause.
“Fine. Just for tonight, Faith,” he said, rolling back around.
I turned and tried to see him in the obscurity, disbelieving of what he’d just said.
He simply settled back into his spot adding, “And I sleep like a starfish, so you might want to move over a bit.”
I smiled up to the murky ceiling before rolling towards the wall and tucking myself under the covers.
Maybe my brother wasn’t so bad after all.