Two Brothers Are Better Than One

Submitted into Contest #93 in response to: Write your story about two characters tidying up after a party.... view prompt

21 comments

Creative Nonfiction Kids

(This story is dedicated to my five younger brothers, particularly the two featured in this. Everything written about them is true, except their names. I couldn't imagine life without any of them.)


The living room was utterly filled with paper: paper cups, paper plates, wrapping paper. . . paper everything. It was the remnants of a family birthday celebration that had just ended.

As eight-year-old Joshua examined the mess, a pensive frown clouded his face. He usually wasn’t much of a talker; his brain tended to say it all. And right then, it was lamenting about the misfortune of picking up all that post-birthday trash. Alone.

He sighed and ruffled his wild, curly hair. Cleaning up never appealed to him, but he was such a good boy. He was always the first to help tidy up, even when none of his four younger brothers wanted to.

Well, maybe one of them did.

The youngest brother, Eli, came toddling in on his chubby legs, spouting off all sorts of one-year-old nonsense. His T-shirt was barely long enough to cover his belly, and his diaper looked like it had seen better days.

But he loved to throw stuff away. Joshua knew that well.

“Hey, Eli,” he said in his calm, placid way. He picked up a random paper cup and asked, “You wanna throw this away?”

“Toe ‘way,” Eli babbled, waddling to his brother. Joshua handed over the cup.

Eli walked a little ways towards the trash can, wound up his throw, and sent the cup flying with a hearty “YEET!”

Joshua chuckled as a big, toothy smile lit up his face. Maybe this wouldn’t be so bad after all!

With fresh motivation, he began making a neat pile of paper plates, stacking paper cups on top of those. The pensive frown returned to his face as he noticed that each individual plate and cup was different from one another, yet looked exactly the same.

How do they even make this stuff? he wondered. What kind of paper do they use? And why do they always have fancy flowers on them? 

Those burning questions were immediately snuffed out, however, when he looked up and saw Eli about to eat a chunk of chocolate cake off the floor.

“No, no, no, don’t eat that!” he cried, getting up and racing over to the baby. “You can’t eat off the floor!”

“Da fwore?” Eli said in an inquisitive tone.

“You don’t eat stuff off the floor,” Joshua told him in a firm but gentle voice. “Go yeet it in the trash.”

“Eat?”

“No, not ‘eat.’ ‘Yeet.’” Joshua pointed to the trash can. “Go yeet it.”

Once Eli understood what he was supposed to do with the cake, he walked over to the trash can and chucked it in. “Ayy!” he cheered, clapping his fat hands together.

“Hey, come help me pick up plates and stuff,” Joshua offered, walking back to his stacks.

“Pwate?” Eli said as he followed his big brother.

“Yeah, plates.” As Joshua showed him how to stack one on top of the other, he got a warm, fuzzy feeling of happiness. But then, being around his little brothers always made him feel that way.

***

A few minutes later -- after much walking, stumbling, stacking, and yeeting -- the numerous paper plates were finally in one tidy stack. Joshua picked them up and tossed them into the trash can. He surveyed the room and saw that it was already looking better.

“Wanna pick up cups now?” he queried, turning a loving eye towards the baby.

“CUP,” Eli answered in a loud and unusually deep voice. He did that every time he wanted his sippy cup and couldn’t find it.

Joshua couldn’t help smiling his toothy smile a little. “Not that cup, buddy. We’ll find it later. I’m talking about --” he stooped down and picked up a paper one -- “these cups. You can yeet ‘em in the trash.”

Eli toddled over to a pile of them and began throwing. . . ahem, I mean yeeting them into the receptacle. While he did that, Joshua walked around, scooping up huge armfuls of blue wrapping paper covered in either Minions or Charlie Brown characters. His young mind drifted back as far as it could recall, back to the time when he was a wild-haired toddler obsessed with Minions.

The memory was only faint, though. His mother reminisced about those days often, but it wasn’t tangible in his mind. It was more like trying to see a chart at the eye doctor and not being able to make out the letters. So close, yet so far away. . .

THUMP!

Joshua started out of his thoughts to see Eli sprawled on the floor. Apparently he’d tripped and fallen over while getting the last of the paper cups.

“You okay, buddy?” Joshua asked, making his way over to his brother. His voice was so pleasing to hear: not very high-pitched, but not deep either.

But Eli wasn’t hurt, the tough little guy. He didn’t even cry; he simply got up, babbled more baby nonsense, and walked away to yeet more cups.

Joshua raised his eyebrows curiously as he continued to clean up wrapping paper. Baby brothers were such strange people. They cried about the most insignificant things and seemed to power through the experiences that were actually painful. Being a baby brother himself, though, Joshua figured his older brother and sister must’ve felt the exact same way about him.

He walked over to the trash can to deposit his load of paper, wondering where in the world his other brothers were. They were good boys too, and he loved them dearly, but why didn’t they help clean up more often? He could suck it up and deal with the normal and abnormal messes every day. Why didn’t they? As their mom often said, this was their house too!

A feeling of bitterness crept over him. He didn’t quite know that it was bitterness -- he just knew he was tired of being the workhorse. Hard work came naturally to him, but even that got old after a while!

However, the sight of Eli waddling around the table with more paper cups to YEET into the can sweetened his emotions a bit. At least there was one little brother to support him when he needed it.

“Can I have a hug, Eli?” Joshua requested, holding out his arms invitingly. Eli dropped his cups, walked over to him, and leaned against his brother’s stomach with a tender “mm-mm.”

That little embrace was just what Joshua needed. It was a reminder that he was never alone.

Because two brothers are always better than one.

May 13, 2021 20:04

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21 comments

Phoenix Langston
20:06 May 13, 2021

There isn't much of a plot to this one, and that's the way I wanted it. I saw this prompt and thought it would be perfect to write about my brothers. You can give feedback if you want to, but just know that this isn't something I normally write.

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OMG! What an adorable liwwle story! :DD The connection between the brothers were very strong and using 'baby talk' made it seem sooo real! Wish them a belated happy birthday from me! I hope they had a blast!

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Valerie June
05:29 May 21, 2021

First things first, I wanted to tell you that you nailed the baby talk. And the 'yeeting?!' Loved that. Even today, my brother still likes to say stuff like that. As a kid, I always wondered about what Joshua wondered about. Those little details about how plates were created made the story feel raw and even more realistic. Your own experiences really do make for the best stories! I especially liked the metaphor you used about Joshua's memory being like the charts doctor's use to test your vision. Then, the part about babies crying over the m...

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Phoenix Langston
15:51 May 21, 2021

Aw, thank you so much! This story was pretty fun to write; I just had to think about how they behaved and put it into words. Since I've been around kids for quite a few years now, I'm starting (just starting) to get a handle on their behaviors. And it really is hard to understand baby language! Sometimes when my youngest brother babbles at me, I jokingly tell him that "I don't speak baby." 😂 Hey, I don't mind it at all. It's okay if you need some extra words, no need to apologize!

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Valerie June
04:43 May 22, 2021

That's a great catchphrase! I should use it next time I babysit some little kids.... ¡Gracias por la idea! But it's not ok to use so many words to the point of boring your readers to death with your long and extravagant sentences like this one right here. 😂 (It's probably even a run-on sentence lol.)

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Phoenix Langston
16:26 May 22, 2021

¡De nada! Yeah, you do have a point there. I'm sure you'll get better at it with practice, though -- in your stories, anyway. I don't mind your long sentences in conversations!

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Valerie June
02:49 May 23, 2021

Aw, thanks. I always worry if you're getting tired of reading my comments.😅 I know this is a terrible question but.... do you think you'll be leaving Reedsy anytime soon? I only know a few people who have left but it's still sad, for lack of a better term.

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Phoenix Langston
04:15 May 23, 2021

It's okay, I don't. No, I'm not leaving, barring any unforeseen circumstances. I understand how sad it is, though. 😥

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Writer Maniac
02:58 May 14, 2021

Aww, this was adorable! I wanna meet your brothers even more now, they seem precious :) Wish them a happy birthday from my side and I hope they had fun yesterday!

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Phoenix Langston
03:06 May 14, 2021

Ah, you just made my night, Mania! They really are precious. And yes, the birthday boys did have a great day! 😁

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Writer Maniac
03:41 May 14, 2021

That's wonderful to know :)

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Very cool. I can totally relate with Joshua on multiple levels, the 'workhorse', the pondering baby thoughts, the younger one XD great job! I could sense the love and care and bitterness just as well as the yeeting XDDD super duper :)

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Phoenix Langston
00:17 May 14, 2021

Haha, thank you so much! That's a pretty accurate representation of what both of them are like. The older boy is thoughtful and hardworking, while the younger one is wild and loves yeeting stuff, lol. I'm glad you loved it!

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XDD you're very welcome :)

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