You don’t understand, this was what it was like for me growing up. He was older, tougher, meaner than me. Anything I had he wanted and everything he wanted he took. I couldn’t compete. We were forever fighting. Our parents didn’t care so long as we were out of the house.
He made my life hell.
I had a favourite toy when I was growing up. We all have one, but mine was special. It was a bright red fire engine, polished chrome flashing on the front and sides and even a working bell. It’d been a gift from my grandma before she moved away. I loved it more than anything — so did he.
I’d been playing fire-fighters all morning. The engine rushing from one blaze to another, saving the city, saving the world. My crew and I had just arrived at a tenement fire. Inside, a family needed our help.
‘What you doing?’
My body tensed. His shadow loomed over me.
‘Firemen? That’s a baby game,’ he snorted. ‘Billy Johnson’s got some fireworks from his dad. We’re off to blow things up.’
‘I don’t like fireworks.’
‘Who said we want you to come? I want your fire engine.’
He grabbed for it but I pulled it close, hugged it against my chest.
‘But, it’s mine. Granny gave me it,’ I protested.
‘I’m not asking, dork,’ he pushed me. It really hurt but I gripped the engine tighter, wouldn’t let go. ‘Give me the fire engine.’
He hit me then. He always hit me when he didn’t get what he wanted. He took it from me and there wasn’t anything I could do to stop him.
I never saw my fire engine again.
When he turned up at the party tonight, I couldn’t help thinking he’d come to get me and, in a way, he had. You see, Denise is my fiancée. We’re getting married in June. I met her at university, a whirlwind romance they called it. Look at her, she’s beautiful, intelligent. I love her more than I’ve ever loved anyone — but, so did he.
He couldn’t bear that she was mine, that I’d be so lucky to find someone like her. He thought that he should have any rights over her – “first dibs” as he called it. After all, he was the oldest. I was the usurper.
He didn’t really love her. He wasn’t capable of loving anyone, except himself. He just didn’t want me to have her.
And when he touched her, I couldn’t take it anymore. I hit him, like he’d hit me that day, like he always hit me when we were kids.
I hit him and hit him and hit him.
I hated my brother, always hated him for how he was, but I didn’t mean for this to happen – I didn’t mean to kill him.