A Brother and His Keeper

For every scratch, bite or angry punch thrown there is a sea of tranquility which they drift upon—the parting of it is just so much louder. Also, sweet sorrow.

They work well together, my two boys, and they manage to stay dry just above the waterline (usually). In fact, they spend their time so nicely that I often count on one or the other to keep his brother safe and in check. I’ll work for hours at my desk while the kids are playing up downstairs, or I’ll glance out the window and see them run up the hill bent on rolling down it. They are covered in grass stains and sunshine, the dogs loose upon their heels—two boys glowing golden that blur in the afternoon warmth of a bright California winter.

Yet when they are apart they could not be more different from the other. The oldest is shy and prone to deep thought. The younger is a man of dimples and constant action.

The oldest prefers smaller groups of friends while the younger holds that more is merrier. One tends to lead, one tends to follow, but they are both fond of fun by committee. Alone they are independent, smart, and charming, and they are as different as they are alike.

Together they are drawn like magnets.

I was upstairs, typing away like so many monkeys, and I heard them talking in the room below. The youngest asked a question that the oldest couldn’t answer. Silence echoed up the stairway. Were they allowed to play with pins, and had they chosen that very moment to let one drop, I’m sure I would have heard it (we have tile floors).

I could feel the disbelief.

“But,” said the youngest, his voice soft and earnest, “I thought you knew everything.”

“I don’t,” replied his brother.

They raced up the hill like the tide coming in, intent to roll upon the ebb through waves of grass and splendor. I watched from the window, deadlines be damned and the consequences to follow.

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