My brother knocked on my door and entered. “How come you want to get rid of all of your toys?”
I didn’t know how to explain so I just shrugged.
“Even Beethoven?” Brian knew I still slept with the old earless bear.
I kept meaning to find a way to replace his ears but never got around to it. After awhile, I convinced myself it lent him character.
I threw the bear on the floor. “Leave me alone.” I turned my back on Brian. He sighed and I heard him leave. When I turned around again, Beethoven was gone too.
I got up to slam the door and Brian, who had come back to my room, stopped me. “You’re being a brat. Mom and Dad worked hard to get you those toys.”
Once I started sobbing, I couldn’t seem to stop. Brian flopped down on my bed and waited patiently. When I finally stopped crying he said, “You ready to talk now?”
“You wouldn’t understand. You’re real.”
“So what are you? Phony?”
“You’re their real son and they are your real family. You belong here; I don’t.”
He remained silent a few moments, thinking that over. “Have Mom and Dad ever made you feel like they love you less than me?”
“Have they ever left you out of any of the family activities?”
“Have I ever acted like I didn’t want you as my little sis?”
“How much more real can it get?”
“I could be their real kid, like you.”
“After they had me, they were told they couldn’t have any more kids. They really wanted another child so they decided to give you a home. You couldn’t be any more wanted or loved if you had been born to them.”
“Did you know?”
“Of course. I was here when they brought you home. You were pretty boring back then. All you did was cry, sleep, and eat. I couldn’t wait until you were old enough to play games. Brian smiled. “I remember it was winter when you first got here. I’d go outside with Rufus, wishing you were big enough to help me build a snowman. Rufus was no help. He was just a pup then. He kept jumping on the snowballs and breaking them as I tried to roll them.”
I laughed. Brian always knew how to make me laugh. “He never stopped doing that.”
“Yes, but between the two of us, we managed to keep him occupied with his own snowballs to smash.”
I knew it would make him uncomfortable but I gave Brian a quick hug anyway.
“Go wash your face and hands. It’s time for dinner.”
“What did you do with Beethoven?”
“I thought I’d try to give him some ears.”
“What will we call him, then?”
“I dunno. Mozart?”
“I love you.”
“Yeah. Me too. Now get going before Mom starts hollering that the meal’s getting cold.”