| Andrew is 13 years old, and he is 3 years older than I but only 2 grades above me because he was held back in his 6th grade year. It’s a Saturday and the grandparents are asleep, one in the living room and the other in his bed.
My brother doesn’t usually stay with us but for the time being he is. While Dad worked during the day, Andrew would skip classes, so his grades slipped and Dad kicked him out of the house. I’ve lived with my grandparents my whole life. It’s a long story but not this one.
We sneak out of the house careful not to wake grandma up, even though a tank could crash through the living room followed by a wrecking ball and an airplane, and you’d think she were dead. She’s just a heavy sleeper, but nonetheless we sneaked.
We are off to a friend of Andrew’s who lives passed the school, passed the park, through the trees, and around the corner. I don’t remember his name but it’s not important. We walk side by side. I kick all the rocks I see and all he ever talks about his girlfriends and how he thinks I’m gay for not having one. I don’t have one yet, but I have been trying, I’m not as good looking as Andrew, but I’m a million times smarter. And when I get a wife, I know she’ll be a million times better looking than his.
I distract his insults by asking him to tell me everything he knows about girls. He loves thinking himself as a modern day Casanova, but in all honesty, his girlfriends are easy, and the former girlfriends of all his friends. I say something to that effect and he smacks me on the back of the head. If there’s one thing he loves more than girls, it’s smacking me. I used to cry, but now I just take them and make them seem like they don’t hurt. One day he’ll stop growing and I’ll be bigger, and I’ll be the one who smacks him around, it’s still a bit of years away, but I always think about the future and how things will change.
We get to the wooded area passed the school, before the street corner, but after the park. The trail leads to a small river that runs its way all the way through this part of the neighborhood. There is a bridge a ways down from here, but we always just jump across. I used to be scared of the jump, but after a couple times it’s actually quite easy. Typically, he pushes me afterword so that I can almost fall in the water, but something catches his attention. After the jump, we come across a small sparrow that doesn’t fly away. He stands very still but still very much alive.
“I think his wing is messed up. Look, he isn’t even trying to fly away,” I say.
My brother walks fast toward it trying to scare it and now it tries to run. He starts chasing it until he grabs it in his hands. He brings it close to his face and grins.
“Hey don’t do anything,” I say knowing it’s too late.
“Shut up, fag!” he growls back.
His eyes turn black and he curls back like with a baseball and spikes the bird hard into the ground and smashes it with his shoe. He looks at his shoe and finds satisfaction that there is blood on the side of his sole.
“Oh! Did you see it! It smashed like a plum!”
My heart stops and the hairs on my arms and neck stand tall. My brother starts his walk again. Without thinking I rush him like a steamed bull and slam hard into his back and tackle him to the ground. I pull back and strike him hard under his left eye; he grabs me by my neck and uses his strength to reverse our position. He shifts his knees so that his body weight pins my arms hard to the ground. There is nothing between my face and his hands and he strikes me 3 times hard with his fists.
He gets off of me and throws a kick to my side in victory.
“For a bird!” he says rubbing under his eye where I struck him. “You fell. You fell real hard, you hear me!” he says continuing his walk.
I turn over and slowly pick myself up. I feel over the parts of my face that hurt and find the welts where he socked me. They are tender and bruised, but nothing worse than the usual.
I walk over to the sparrow smashed in the grass. I kneel down beside it and scoop him gently in my hands. He is completely mangled from the attack. I look closely at its small body and find it is still breathing. His one eye stares deeply into my heart, and it blinks hard. He opens it wide. It is small and black and I can see the reflection of myself in it. His gaze is totally frozen on me, and I know that he isn’t afraid.
We move closer to the edge of the water. I put myself in the bird’s place and imagine the horror and pain it is going through, still alive and still very much in pain. I imagine myself being thrown into the ground like that and being smashed, and it’s unbearable. I take the suffering creature and hold him submerged in the water. I try hard to see him under the water, but my eyes are completely filled in much the same way as his. I close my eyes hard and let my tears fall into the current of the stream. I hold him there for minutes and make sure that nothing gets left behind until there is no doubt that what is in my hands is merely a shell of former life.
I take the small sparrow over to a part of the ground that looks soft. I thrust my hands into the ground and bring them together like a shovel and scoop towards myself. It’s a small grave, but it’s adequate for a small animal. I place the sparrow gently in the dirt and cover him with one stroke of my hands. I pat the dirt to compact it and breathe deeply.
I hate that monster for what he did and wish I could have done more to him. I wish I could have done to him what he deserves. I veer my gaze into the direction he left and see that he is gone. I’m sure he never looked back, leaving me and that sparrow beat into the ground. Things won’t always go well for my brother. Maybe not today or tomorrow, but someday that sparrow will be the one throwing the kicks into his side. It’s still some years away, but as I walk passed the park, and passed the school, down the street my grandparents live, I envision a sad and lonely man. My brother will deserve every terrible thing that happens in his life.