By Mary Claire Ekstrom
Pierce’s eyes bored into me as he relayed his most tragic childhood memory.
Six years older than me, I assumed he was wise, but mainly I was confused.
To a six-year-old, brothers were a baffling species.
Every time I thought I knew something, they tried to prove me wrong.
“It was dark, Mary Claire, and Dad had left me alone in the bowling alley,” Pierce said as he bounced down next to me on the family couch. Excitement boiled in his voice. His hand rested in his lap, but just for a moment. Then, he swirled it an inch or two in front of my face.
“But…” I protested, pushing his hand away.
“Shh! I’m not done yet. Anyway, like I was saying, so he left me there, at four years old! Left to chat with his friends. Can you believe that? As if I knew how to bowl at four!” He said, both hands reaching upward, as if alerting God to the injustices done to him.
“Don’t interrupt, Mary Claire. So I cried for him. I yelled, ‘Father! Father! Help me! I cannot bowl! I am but four years of age.!’ But he didn’t reply.”
“Pierce… kids don’t talk like that.”
“I did. I was a very intelligent child. And way advanced for my age.” Pierce shot me a withering glare.
I wanted to roll my eyes but I didn’t dare. “And I don’t think Dad would have left you–”
“Mary Claire,” He sighed, “Let me finish my story.”
I shut my mouth. Tight.
“So, I went to pick up the bowling ball, but at such a young age, I was unaware of its true weight.” Pierce’s voice acquired a deep, loud tone – just like our Pastor, when he spoke from the pulpit.
“Once I lifted the ball, I understood that my arms were much too weak to hold on to this… this mass of urethane, so I tried to set it on the floor. Only to have it come crashing down on my finger. See…” Pierce shook his head and held out his left, middle finger, still ever so slightly crooked.
I looked at it. Because Pierce would kill me if I didn’t.
“I almost lost my finger that day.” He sighed. “Dad eventually rushed to my side, after about twenty minutes of my lonesome misery, but it was too late. The finger was broken… all due to Dad’s negligence.”
“Pierce, Dad didn’t leave you crying for 20 minutes.”
“He did.” Pierce growled. “And, I almost lost my ability to bowl – forever – that day.”
“Pierce, Dad told me that you ran away from him because he wouldn’t let you bowl.”
“Well…” His eyes began to race about the room.
“And that you picked up someone else’s bowling ball that was too big to show him you could.”
“That’s not necessarily…”
“The pink one?”
His mouth made a thin line as he bit the inside of his lip.
“Dad told me that he tried to pull the ball away from you and that you held on. Then, ran away with it. You tripped, and it fell on your finger.”
“Mary Claire, Dad doesn’t know the whole story.”
“But you were four, and he was… Older.”
Pierce blinked. “What’s the difference?”
I shrugged. “He might remember… it… better…”
“Mary Claire,” He watched his thumb as he twiddled with the stitching of the couch. Then, he looked up. “When you turn twelve, you’ll understand that it doesn’t matter how he remembers it… It matters how I remember it. And I remember him breaking my finger.”
I zoned out.
Brothers. So confusing!
I mean, if brothers were so “wise”, why couldn’t mine even remember how he broke his finger?
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