I always believed that my real brother had been lost in the mail with the send away box top watch that never came.
The sibling battles between you and I suddenly seem so ridiculous. I would always use my not-so-secret weapon, crying, and mom dealt you the punishment because we both knew she liked me best. Back then our brainless bickering was the only barrier between us. The things that serve as a blockade now are far beyond what our little brains could even ponder back then.
Our daily combat resided at the breakfast table; you with your big spoon for scooping up every last ounce of sugar from the Cocoa Puffs, and I with my holographic placement strategically positioned two seats away from you.
Everyone knows the true essence of eating cereal for a child is not in the nutrients and grains but rather the games and graphics adorning the back of the box. Secret Giveaways Tucked Deep In The Bottom. Crossword puzzles looping through blocked lettering. You and I chose the same cereal every day, which inevitably led to the brawl over who received custody of the box for their viewing pleasure that morning. We insisted on having that particular box directly in front of our faces for the solid fifteen minutes that we chomped away to the bottom of our bowls.
I would not scoot two seats over to share and you would never tilt the box my way so that I could see too. To be truthful, I never even wanted to eat your sugar-coated morsels; I just could not stand to see you get your way.
You even had that red Sharpie marker, sitting valiantly next to your napkin, waiting for you to pick it up and use it to circle hidden bananas and cross out pots of gold. You were always such a pro at finding those bananas in the unseen spots of the jungle sketched on cardboard. I would be so satisfied to clutch the coveted box in my arms the next morning until I saw all the answers and solutions left for me in your cunning scribbles. And that’s how it existed for several years; my coming up to a milestone to find it had already been massacred by your Permanent Red Ink. But I could not stay mad at you forever for mutilating the cereal box, only for an hour or until it was time to line up at the bus stop with the rest of the neighborhood kids.
You called me a brat but look who got her way: the baby of the family, the only girl in an endless tangle of trucks, mud pies and wrestling matches. I could blame you endlessly and mom would listen to me, attempting to decipher my words, jumbled into a mixture of moans and sobs, as she stroked my red hair and hushed me with soothing resolutions.
I, the eight-year-old sister, adored handing you, the nine-year-old brother, a suitable punishment.
I blamed you always.
It hurts because I still do.
These days I keep the accusations hanging low under my breath. Who Really Needs To Voice What Everyone Already Knows Too Well?
We eventually grew up. Mom still calls it miraculous. Problems no longer revolved around the race to the breakfast table and the scrappy fight over the Lucky Charms box. Who gave it up first, I will never recall if it was you who stopped bringing the red Sharpie to the table or I who switched to bagels and English muffins. Either way, things changed; it has not been about the back of the cereal box for years now. And those soothing resolutions, well, we both know they stopped coming.
Even so, I can still envision us at the old table with the surface carved and cut deeply with forgotten initials, the morning sun pouring in on your pallid yellow curls. The peace suddenly halted by my whines that gradually morphed into a shrill shriek: my selfish inability to let you have something for once.
If I could sit back down with my holographic place mat, knowing that the times that kept me from you all those years were blocked by a stupid cereal box, knowing that childhood would be the only time I would have to be close to you, I would willingly scoot two seats down and beg you to teach me how to find the hidden bananas. You were always such a pro at that.
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