My Little Brother's Nose - Short Story - Non-Fiction
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My Brother’s Nose
Until age nine, I was an only child, and apparently, asked Santa Claus for a baby brother every Christmas. I don’t remember that, although, what I do remember is the day my mother brought my baby brother home from the hospital. I arrived home after school and there stood Mom cradling her little bundle of joy in her arms. She sat down on the couch and beckoned me to sit beside her.
“Here is your baby brother,” she said, “What do you think?”
“I think he’s all red and wrinkled. Can you take him back?” I replied in the total honesty of a nine-year-old. Mother began to cry. She took him to her bedroom, locked the door and didn’t come out for a long time.
My dad sent me to my room and when Mother finally emerged, he made me apologize to her. She didn’t speak to me for several days.
I was informed that my baby brother, Steve, would be sharing my room. I realized all too soon that this was most likely my punishment for calling him red and wrinkled; as well as, strengthened my desire to return him to the hospital. He cried every night, at the same time, until Mother or Father came and got him. When it became quiet again, I would slip back to sleep until . . . he started crying again. I couldn’t understand why - if they liked him so much – they couldn’t keep him in their room.
Every morning I was expected to get up, get ready, eat my breakfast and go to school in absolute silence, so I didn’t “wake the baby.” Why not? He didn’t have any problem waking me up! I never heard anyone telling little Stevie “Be quiet so you don’t wake up your sister! “
Then, there were the afternoons I came home from school and Mother would tell me, “Keep your brother busy while I get dinner ready.”
Really, what on earth does a nine-year-old do to keep an infant busy? Let’s watch cartoons!
“Turn that T.V. off; you’re not paying any attention to your brother!” Mother would say.
Hmm, I learned that “This Little Piggy” gave him the giggles, and that wasn’t so bad. “Peek-A-Boo” was another entertainment tool, along with “Eye Winker, Tommy Tinker” and it had the added effect of making mother think “we were just so cute.” I was turning out to be a pretty good babysitter.
The two bedroom “Cracker Jack” house we lived in was definitely too small for our little family. So, when father was offered a job in another town, we packed up and moved to a larger one. We now had two bedrooms on the main floor and a third in the basement. Mother was uneasy about letting me sleep downstairs and I was certainly not thrilled about the aspect either. It was kind of spooky. So once again Stevie and I shared a bedroom, but by this time he was sleeping through the night. Mother continued to expect me to get up, get ready for school, and slip out silently. A skill I still had not mastered.
By the time Steve turned three, I was nearing thirteen and too old to share a bedroom with my baby brother. So I made the move downstairs, which was still a bit spooky. But now I had my own room and this was way too cool. Soon I got over the creepy decent into the basement - well sort of.
I was still expected to “watch” my little brother while Mom fixed dinner or had some other activity to do. By this time he was much more mobile and vocal. So we would play hide and seek, cars and all the things that boys like.
One of his favorite games was “tickle.” I learned quickly that three-year-olds will do the same thing over and over until they wear you out. Tickling was one of those things. He would run all around me shrieking and jabbing his stubby little toddler fingers in my ribs, thinking he was tickling me. I would then catch him, lay him on the ground and tickle him.
He would cry “stop, stop sissy.” So I would stop, only for him to get up and start all over again.
One day, while in a particularly ornery mood, I didn’t stop tickling him. I tickled him until he wet his pants. He cried and I got the belt on my backside. That was the end of the tickle game.
One Saturday afternoon my family piled into our 1964 Ford Fairmont station wagon. We were headed for a drive in the mountains, a favorite pastime of my parents. Of course, we had to stop at the gas station to get some “petrol,” as my father called it. At this time seatbelts were a thing of the future and small children rode standing in the middle of the front bench seat between their parents. My brother was no exception. I sat in the back seat and while Father was pumping the “petrol” into the car, I was busy playing “Eye Winker, Tommy Tinker” with little Stevie. When I got to Nose Smeller, I pinched his nubby little nose between two fingers and said, “Oh I got your nose.”
He quickly pulled away and demanded to see his nose. I held my hand up displaying my thumb between the two fingers. I wiggled my thumb and said, “See, there it is.”
He frowned, felt his face with his chubby little hand and said “Uh-uh.”
“Yep,” I said wiggling my thumb at him.
“Give it back!” he demanded, reaching for my hand.
“Nope, I’m going to throw it out,” I said as I rolled down the hand crank window and pretended to throw out his nose.
“Mom,” he fussed. Mom was getting a big kick out of this exchange and only shrugged her shoulders at him.
About this time Father had gotten back into the car and started it up. Steve got a little more vocal about his nose that had gotten thrown out the window.
“Your nose is right here on your face,” Mother assured him, ready for the game to be over and our afternoon adventure to begin.
I glanced back to the spot where we had been parked as father started to drive out of the gas station. There, on the cement, was a large red paint spot. I just couldn’t help myself.
“Steve, look! There is where I threw out your nose. Daddy just ran over it. There is blood all over the road!”
He turned and looked and began to scream uncontrollably. Tears rolled down his face, as they did mine, but mine were from laughing at his sudden outburst. Mother couldn’t understand him at first as he pointed to the red spot shrieking hysterically, “my nose, my nose.”
There was so much chaos in the car Father had to pull over. Steve was inconsolable, I was laughing wildly, and mother was losing her patience with us both. I finally gained control of myself, upon threat of a beating, and told her what was going on. She insisted I tell him I did not throw his nose out the window. I did, but he did not believe me. He kept wailing and pointing to the big red spot on the pavement.
Finally, Mother pulled the sobbing toddler into her lap, pulled her visor down and made him look in the mirror to see for himself, that his nose had never left his face. Once he saw the little button and felt it a few times he collapsed into Mother’s lap.
Mother threatened me with certain death if I ever did anything like that again to my “dear” little brother. I apologized. Then I looked at my father, who had remained silent throughout the entire ordeal. He was starting to pull out of the gas station again, but I caught the look in his eyes in the rearview mirror. There was a twinkle, a hint of a laugh, and then in a stern voice he said, “Don’t tease your brother like that again.”
“Yes sir,” I said, swallowing hard to keep a giggle from escaping.
© 2010 miss_jkim