I relaxed in my room, absorbed in a book, laughter and giggles trickling through my open window facing the backyard.
Then suddenly, crying.
Curious, I peeked out the window.
A pack of children surrounded my wailing brother, splayed on the ground.
“It’s ok,” the oldest girl told him, luring him up with a sweet voice. “Do you want this?” She held a jump rope in front of him.
He calmed down and stood, nearly the size of our next door neighbor’s four year old, reaching for the jump rope.
She held it away from him, as the other three joined her in a round of Keep Away From My Brother.
At first he giggled gleefully. It was a game.
Then, one by one, they pushed him, tentative at first, then with zeal – malicious glints in their eyes matching the malevolent laughter at his hurt and confusion.
“Why are you doing this?” asked his heartbroken face.
They shoved him to the ground. If he didn’t stay down and cry, they did it again. And again.
They tossed the jump rope onto a lower tree branch overhanging the swing set next door.
They cackled when he tried to reach it, then pushed him again, this time so hard he hit his head on the ground.
Tears fell. My brother cried while they once again surrounded him, the loop repeating.
I watched the scene in disbelief. I knew these kids, none of them bad. Yet together, they transformed into a mob of cruelty – bullying a helpless child two or more years younger.
I exploded, rage obliterating the bubble of shock surrounding me.
“STOP IT NOW!” I yelled out my window.
I raced out my bedroom door, down the long hallway, skipped the stairs three at a time, and flew through the tiled entryway into the kitchen and out the back door – a ten second sprint that already had the four scattering to the winds.
“Get back here NOW!” I screamed, my enraged voice ricocheting off the suburban houses across the greenbelt before returning to my backyard.
Nervous smiles graced a few faces, the ages of the quartet ranging from four years old to eight, not sure how to process the demand of a 13 year old who normally had no power over them. They slowly walked across the fresh cut grass that scented the air, feet disappearing into the vivid summer green, until they reached my side.
Four pairs of eyes followed me as I crossed into the next yard; the only existing fence was the black metallic one separating the row of houses from the greenbelt – everyone’s yard open to their neighbors. I knelt down, gently wiping away the tear-stained blue eyes of my two year old brother, the shock over my shouting distracting him from the hurt and ceasing his sobs.
He happily climbed to his feet again, the easy smile back on his face. Just like a few minutes before.
I turned my full wrath on The Four.
“You think it’s funny, pushing down a two year old? Someone too small to fight back? How would you like it if I did that to you? You want me to shove your face into the ground?” Every muscle in my body screamed to do exactly that, to dose them with a taste of their own medicine.
The nervous “is she serious?” smiles returned.
“Because I will. If I ever catch you picking on him again, I will do to you everything you did to him.”
One by one, the smiles vanished, the venom and message in my eyes sinking in.
You don’t mess with people I love.
This week’s assignment was, when meeting someone for the first time, describing a scene from your life that would help show the person your true self.
I struggled with this piece. I wanted to write it memoir style, but with so much of the conflict external and not happening to me, I wasn’t sure I succeeded.
Did I show and not tell the story?
ConCrit always appreciated.
Thanks to Denelle at Caitlin’s Concepts for encouraging me to post this in spite of my doubts about it being a “defining” moment.