“My Baby Brother,” Friend, Feb. 1985, 20
Some people have dogs to love—big ones, silky ones, spotted ones. Some people have cats to love—big ones, furry ones, stripy ones.
Some people have goldfish to love. Some people have canaries. Some people have brothers, or sisters. I didn’t have anybody—no dog, no cat, no goldfish, no canary, no sister, no brother. It was terrible.
Everybody needs somebody—somebody to hide with in the dark when everything’s creepy, somebody whose nose turns red with yours when it’s cold, somebody to slosh through the rain with. It’s pretty lonely without anybody.
“Hello, Jimmy,” I said to myself every morning. “Good night, Jimmy,” I said to myself every night. Nobody ever answered me.
When my teeth chattered and I said, “Brrrr!” nobody ever said, “I’m c-c-cold t-too!”
When I watched a scary show on television and I grew goose bumps, nobody else grew goose bumps with me. Nobody else shivered. Nobody else said, “I—I’m SCARED!”
Then Mommy talked to me one night. She told me I was going to have a baby brother or sister. “Next month,” she said.
“Whoopee!” I said. “That’s what I want.”
I waited a month, a whole month more. Then my baby brother came. He was a little red thing all wrapped up in blue blankets. “Hi,” I said.
He didn’t answer. He screwed up his eyes. He made his fists into little balls.
“How are you?” I asked.
“Waaaa!” he answered. “Waaaa!”
I tried to talk to him, but he didn’t even hear me. I didn’t even hear me.
I made a face at him to make him laugh. He didn’t laugh. He turned purple and cried—again. “Waaaa! WAAAA!”
I didn’t laugh either. He made so much noise that I couldn’t even think.
He smelled funny too.
He couldn’t blow bubble gum. He couldn’t eat ice cream. He didn’t even have much hair, just some fuzz. He couldn’t walk or run or talk.
“Good night,” I whispered to him. He was already asleep.
That night I heard him. It was dark.
“Waaaa!” he yelled. “Aa-aah!”
“Waaaa,” I said. “Waaaa. Waaaa. Waaaa.” Nobody paid any attention. Nobody laughed either.
So I still didn’t have anybody to play with. When I laughed because the grass tickled my elbows, nobody laughed beside me. When I jumped into bed and the springs plunked, nobody plunked beside me.
But after a while …
When I leaned over the crib to tickle my brother’s toes, he smiled at me.
When I helped Mommy hold his bottle, he wrapped his fingers around my finger. I couldn’t get away. I didn’t even try.
When I walked my fingers over his stomach, he kicked his feet because it tickled.
When I blew at the funny, fuzzy hair on top of his head, he waved his hands. He laughed. I laughed too.
And when he cried, Mommy sat him on my knee.
“Waaaa!” he said. “Waaaa!”
Mommy wrapped my arms around him. His tummy felt warm and round. “Don’t cry,” I said. “Please don’t cry.” I joggled him. He couldn’t joggle back. He stopped crying, though, and leaned against me. He pinched the skin on the back of my hands with his fingers. He kicked his heels on my legs.
“Hold him tight,” Mommy said.
I did. I held my baby brother tight. And I wasn’t lonely anymore.