The whiny voice of my snotty seven-year-old brother cut through the air. I pulled the book further over my face as I tried to ignore him as he repeated his fog-horn cry for his mommy as he sailed through the living room.

    “Tenley, get your brother another popsicle.” The strident voice came echoing through the hallway to my ears hidden on the sofa. I tried to ignore the demand, but the request brought the midget to the living room doorway.

    “Yeah, Tenley, get me another popsicle.” A devilish grin spread across Kevin’s face which happened to show residue of blue frozen treat already being consumed.

    I groaned and rolled off the sofa, carefully marking my page on the book. “What happened to your other one, midget?” I asked as I trudged toward the kitchen and the impossibly high freezer door. I swear being the sister to a little brother was more of a challenge than anyone ever told me.

    “Dropped it,” Kevin bounced along beside me. He barely came up to my armpit so to call him a midget was only a small exaggeration.

    “I swear, I can’t wait until you grow a little and lose the excuse of always being too small.” I opened the freezer door and pulled out the box. “What do you know? Only one left which was supposed to be mine.” I handed him the package by the sticks.

    “Aww, too bad,” he said with a smirk as he headed back down the hallway, his video game almost falling out of his jean’s back pocket.

    I hit the bathroom and then poked my head into mom’s room where she was on a conference call. Sitting behind her folding table desk, she looked up and made the motion of walking with her fingers. I nodded and then backed out of the doorway.

    Crap, I thought, more work. And whose dog is it? Not mine. Ever since we’ve been trapped at home, the chores kept piling up. Take care of your brother, clean up the living room, pick up the toys, feed the dog, walk the dog, make your bed, keep quiet while I’m at work….and the list goes on.

    In the kitchen, I take the leash off the hook by the door. The snap hit the doorframe which brought the fuzz ball running. Most of the time, she is so focused on what is happening, you don’t have to holler for her. Sitting on my foot, excited at the prospect of a walk, Cookie patiently waited for me to snap the leash on.  

    We headed out the door and down the path to the road. Our neighborhood was quiet most of the time so riding bikes was safe and pretty easy. But consequently, there were lots of dogs which meant Cookie needed to stop and investigate various points on our route quite thoroughly. I always wondered what kind of messages dogs could send to each other. Apparently, they were vitally important because sometimes you have to drag her away from a spot. And I would think that would hurt.

    After dropping off the poop bag and freeing the dog back into the house, I headed to the bedroom to finish some homework for school. Not being able to visit with my friends was starting to stress me out. Probably why I was so ticked off at Kevin all the time. Two of his buddies live on our street or around the corner. He sees them all the time and claims they even wear their masks. I, however, can only video chat with my BFFs. Considering I am almost a teenager, it was hard to have private conversations when one of us was sitting in the living room.

    Kevin and I share a room because there are only two bedrooms in our house. Mom and I were going to start sharing but the whole virus thing changed her job. Since she now worked from home, she needed more space. Hopefully things will change soon, and I won’t have to hide in the bathroom all the time.

    As I opened the door, I could see the little twit in the dresser mirror, earbuds directed the video game energy into his mind. Getting my notebook out of bureau drawer, I noticed a drip of bright blue down the front of the bureau beginning to pool on the floor. Following the drip line up, I shrieked and turned to jump at the bunk bed and the maniacal demon lying there. He didn’t even have the brains to look afraid.

    Mom came through the door, ready to kill us for disrupting work yet again. She managed to pull me away from dragging Kevin off his bed and gave me a shake. “What are you doing, Tenley?” she said. “Are you trying to get me fired?”

   I turned with tears welling in my eyes and looked at the tray on top of the bureau. I tried to pick some of the items up but they were coated with the impossible blue of the missing popsicle. Cookie, attracted by the yelling, was pressed against my leg trying to offer support. 

      “What is it?” Mom asked again in a more reasonable tone now that I wasn’t trying to kill Kevin, though the future was still in doubt.

    “He wrecked my drives. All of my pictures. All of my stories. All of my homework,” I wailed as I pointed to the melted puddle which coated the jump drives and charging cables. “He knew he dropped it and all he worried about was getting another popsicle. He didn’t tell me so I could try to fix it.” I took a shaky breath and continued looking at him with my voice rising. “And what were you doing on my side of the room anyway?” I tried to jump at Kevin again and managed to land a punch on his arm.

    “Ok, wait a minute,” Mom said as she pulled me back from the bunk bed. “Maybe we can clean things up. And you have back ups so it should be OK.”

    “These were my back-ups” I said as I pulled a paper towel out of my pocket and started to dab at the liquid mess. “Don’t you remember, he crashed our computer when he downloaded that video game with a virus.”

    Kevin just laid there smirking, because what can you do to a seven-year-old kid? But Mom actually caught the look on his face this time while she was facing the mirror. She held out her hand and said “Video game.”

    “Aww, come on. It was just some junk. No big deal.” Kevin tried to back pedal his reaction.

    “Video game,” Mom said, her hand still extended as she gave him the eye. Her face wore a look that meant we both might still be in trouble. “See what you can salvage. I have to work for another hour and a half. We’ll talk then.” She walked out with the electronic lifeforce my brother required to survive the day.

    Sniffling, I started trying to mop up the sticky mess. I filled a waste basket with paper towels as I cleaned up the tray and wiped off each item. Kevin laid on his bed ignoring my glares and tears. All I could do was hope he was grounded for weeks or even years. I used the family computer in the living room to search for options for saving the memory sticks. The results weren’t great. To try and recreate all of my work was going to be difficult. I know it was just kid stuff, but it was ideas I thought up.

    By the time we had the family meeting, it became clear that I was right. The punishment for him was going to also impact me, since I was the policeman while Mom worked. No food outside the kitchen, only one snack per day, no video game for two weeks, no friend visits for two weeks. And she was going to ask for extra homework from his teachers so he would have something to do with his spare time.

     As for me, I was designated the warden and Mom hoped we could salvage some of the documents on the drives after the alcohol dried. I can’t wait to get back inside a school so I can be a kid again.

August 08, 2020 03:13

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