The bestest big brother

As I finish up my project homework and go downstairs for a drink, my little brother comes barging through his bedroom door, closely followed by two of his friends. It’s obvious from their excited faces that they’d been patienty waiting for me to come out of my room.

“Isaac! Isaac! Someone in my class saw Bonehilda!”, he pants excitedly as he catches his breath. “It’s true!” confirms Saya. “Timothy really saw her! In the coffee shop!”

“Come on, guys. You realise it’s just an urban legend, right?” says Tasha. She’s always the voice of reason and logic. Out of all the kids Arches has befriended, I like her the most. “Right?!” she insists, looking at me nervously, impatiently even, as if to say, come on, help me out here, they’ve been going on about it all day.

“Well, I don’t know if your friend really saw Bonehilda, Arches. I mean, he might as well be making it up, considering she lives all the way out in the Forgotten Hollow.” I dismissively utter, keeping my eyes on Tasha. And she delivers.

“See? He can’t have s- wait, what?!

“You mean she is real, Isaac? Really?!” My little brother is getting excited. More than usually, I mean. Of course I play along. “I haven’t seen her for myself, dude, so I can’t say for sure. But I have heard the stories…”

“Can you tell us?” Saya asks. I look around at the other two. They are staring at me expectantly. How can I say no to their little faces of curiosity?

“Hmm, I don’t know if I should… it is a scary story…”

“Aww, come on! You’d be the very bestest big brother in the whole world!””

“You think so?” I rub my chin and feign contemplation. Of course I will tell them the story. “Please!!!” they’re begging in unison now, and I have them exactly where I want them. “Alright, alright, sit down and get ready for… the story of Bonehilda.”

Loving Lydocias

“Hurry up, Dad! We’re going to be late for school!”

William tries to take a bite and almost drops the toast his wife so lovingly prepared for breakfast, as his son Arches pulls on his sleeve. “It’s field trip day, Dad! Come on!”

Amelia rolls her eyes. “Always busy, this family.” She smiles and gives her husband a quick peck on the lips before he leaves. “Pres still asleep?” he asks. She nods. “Give her a big kiss from Daddy, I’ll try not to be late tonight.” The last part of his sentence trails off as he closes the door behind him.

“Do you hear that, Pepper?” The dog looks at her, her head cocked sideways in confusion. “Peace and quiet. That’s rare, isn’t it?” As if on queue, the dog starts barking as Pres starts crying. “Did you guys practice that or something?”

“There’s my little girl!” She smiles genuinely at the sight of her only daughter. One arm outstretched while the other wipes off a tear, Pres reaches for her mother. “What shall we do today, girly?” The toddler looks like she is in deep thought, her tiny fingers scratching her equally tiny chin. She mulls it over for a few seconds and then squeaks her current most favourite word in the whole wide world: pawk.

Amelia turns to Pepper, who had followed her all the way up to the toddler’s room. “You hear that? The tiny human wants us to take you for a walk to the park.” At the word “walk”, Pepper starts wagging her tail, knocking over a tower of blocks Arches had so carefully built for his little sister the night before. Tears well up in the little girl’s eyes. “That’s okay,” Amelia smiles, “we’ll ask him to play with you and help you rebuild it tonight, right?” Pres nods. Crisis avoided. I sure am getting the hang of this, after three children.

Speaking of which, where is my third child? She hurries to the door across the hallway. A door that has remained locked ever since Isaac hit puberty. Amelia didn’t think Isaac had anything to be this secretive about, but wrote it off to a teenage phase. As long as the room stays clean, and by that I mean, our hallway doesn’t start smelling like high school locker room, he’s entitled to his privacy. He’s a smart and independent young man, he’ll be fine.

She knocks on the door. And again. And once more. She tries the handle, but as expected – locked. “Isaac, are you in there?” she yells tentatively. No response. He must have got up early to do some of his research before school. “At least your big brother plays outside a lot, right, girly?” she asks Pres in a mocking sing-a-song voice. “Let’s go play outside too.”