My older brother and I have a habit of doing stupid, dangerous things together.
When we were young we used to take the cushions off our couch, lay them on our stairs and use the lid to our toy box as a sled. We would get a running start, jump onto the “sled,” and fly down the cushion slide, only to run into a wall, or hit our head on the table, or something along those lines.
We would collect scrap wood from the neighbors to make tree forts in the forest preserve behind my house. Usually we would come home with only a few bruises as a result of carelessness. One time, when we were both being extra careless, I came home with a hole in the back of my head. I had walked behind my brother as he was hammering and the back of the hammer stuck directly into my head. Two things developed form that accident: One, I have a permanent bump on my head where that hammer hit me, and Two, my mother never let us go into the forest to make tree forts again…
Believe it or not, those stories are mild compared to the one I am about to tell you. Of course, my brother and I were up to our stupid dangerous antics, as usual, but this time we didn’t end up with just bruises and scratches. For about nine minutes of my life, I genuinely thought I murdered my brother.
We had gotten into an argument.
About what I can’t remember, and honestly, it is probably neither here nor there. Most likely, he had cut off the hair on my Barbie or I had smashed his favorite Lego creation—something irrelevant and stupid.
As a result of this argument, we had pulled out the wooden cork guns that my uncle had bought us the
Christmas before. No, we didn’t use cork guns to play wild wild west, or pretend to rob a bank, we used them to settle real life arguments. So we are each hiding behind a couch on either side of the room, yelling things at one another, and occasionally firing a cork from our cork guns when the timing was right. This went on for several minutes, but eventually, both guns were out of ammo and we were forced to emerge from our couch fortresses and settle the argument face to face.
Unfortunately, the cork guns had done nothing but riled us both up more and make the argument more intense. My brother threw his cork gun down on the ground, stood up, and walked over to my side of the room where I was frantically searching for more ammo. When I realized that there wasn’t a chance of me having time to load my gun and fire it, I resorted to turning the cork gun into a blunt force weapon, holding the gun by the barrel and swinging it above my head like a wooden baseball bat.
“Come one more step towards me and I’ll swing,” I said
Now, before I go on any further, I have to explain something. My brother and I have a phrase that is not responded to well in our household, especially in the midst of an argument. Its been used too many times to count, and the outcome is always negative. Somebody always ends up getting hurt. And that phrase is
“You don’t have the balls.”
So there I am, a 7-year-old blonde girl in pigtails holding a cork gun above my head like a baseball bat as my brother approaches. But my brother wasn’t afraid of me.
“One more step and I’ll do it!” I repeated.
And he said it. He took that last step, got all up in my face, and said it.
“You don’t have the balls.”
So I swung. I wound up and hit my brother as hard as I possibly could in the head with a cork gun. And he passed out, fell to his knees, and then slumped to the ground.
At this point I’m kind of freaking out a little. My brother is lying there on the ground, not responsive, and it is my fault. You’d think that I would run upstairs, find my mom, and figure out how to help him.
Being the responsible child I was, I threw the cork gun down, jumped over my brother’s body, and ran upstairs to my room. Once there I closed the door, crawled under my bed, and barricaded myself with my collection of toys and books.
I’m frantic. I’m dealing with the guilt of murdering my own brother and trying to come up with ways to tell my mother her only son is dead. I’m worrying that my father will murder me once he finds out what I’ve done. I’m thinking about all the good times and bad times we had together, cherishing the moments we shared…
And then I hear it. The door creaks open, footsteps echo across my floor, and the toys and books are slowly shifted aside, and I see my brother’s head appear under the bed.
Turns out I had only knocked him unconscious… no big deal. He woke up a several minutes later with a discarded cork gun lying across his chest and a splitting headache. After putting the pieces together and figuring out exactly what had happened, he made his way up to my room and found me hiding under the bed.
Luckily my brother is not the type for revenge. Instead of being angry with me he apologized for arguing and getting all up in my face. Weird right? But either way, we hugged, made up, and went on to do other stupid and dangerous things together. After a few days, we had pretty much forgotten about the whole incident.
About three years ago this story came up in conversation. We were in the car on the way to a vacation in Florida, and the story had somehow made its way into our discussion. Upon hearing the story my mother spun around in the front seat, eyes wide with concern. We had managed to keep the incident a secret from my parents throughout our entire childhood. And it’s a good thing we did because we probably would have been separated for the rest of our lives had they been aware of the terrible things we did.
As a result of our stupidity, my brother and I developed a collection of bangs, bumps, bruises, and scars. But I also developed something more—a collection of pretty unforgettable memories.