1st Place Category 1
Big Brother/Little Brother
Winner Category 1 (Ages 18 to 21)
I remember the first time I saw my little brother. We went to visit my mom in the hospital, and even though I was only five I still remember him sitting there in her arms. She looks at me and smiles.
“Rafi, say hello to your little brother.” I look down at him. I am excited.
“We’re going to be best friends,” I say to him.
My big brother stands next to me, silent.
My big brother: smart, silent, withdrawn, looming. Even at the age of seven he is a presence, but not a force.
I wonder what my big brother thought the first time he saw me.
I remember when my big brother was in eleventh grade, we both got our report cards. His was all A’s. My parents were so proud. I was sitting across the table holding mine, while the three of them sat at the other end of the table looking at his.
My brother has never been one for strong displays of emotions, and this time was no different.
My dad looks at me across the table. “Rafi, we’re proud of you, too.”
I smile, avoiding eye contact. Instead, I look down at the table, staring at the groves in the wood. They cross and turn seamlessly within one another, and though there are no intentional designs on the table, I see a shape similar to a baseball, with a circular body and two distinct seams running along either end of the circle. I begin to trace my finger along the seams of the non-existent baseball, over and over in a never-ending loop.
“Thanks,” I say.
I remember when my little brother finally learned to speak. He had language that we understood from the time he was about three, but he didn’t start speaking anything coherent that anyone outside of the family understood until he was four or five. He and I were still best friends though.
I ask my older brother if he will have a catch with me. I used to hate baseball, but he taught me how to play, and now I am in love.
He looks up at me. “Sorry, maybe later,” he says, not unkindly
I would always call him, “my favorite little brother.” He would always say, “but I’m your only little brother.”
When my older brother was a senior in high school, he wrote a short memoir for his senior project. He had gotten really interested in writing, and he had been exploring it more. He was good.
“Non-Specified Learning Disorder.” That’s what it says on my little brother’s IEP. Not that it really matters. He’s always just been my little brother to me.
Writing is my thing.
I remember when my little brother finally started to read. By fifth grade he was reading at a first grade level. We didn’t know if he’d ever even make it that far.
I always loved to read. I would sit in the living room and read books or magazines or newspapers while my mom would read to my little brother. He would watch me as she read to him.
I remember the first story I ever wrote. It was called “Big Brother.”
I remember when my big brother left for his year abroad in Israel after he graduated high school. I was crying.
“I’m going to miss you,” I managed to get out.
“You, too,” he said. His voice cracked.
When my big brother left, I didn’t think I would cry. But my little brother starts crying and suddenly I feel the emotions I’ve worked so hard to keep bottled up suddenly begin to resurface. I try and contain them, but like a carbonated drink that is being shaken, eventually the pressure becomes too much and it all comes pouring out.
I remember when my mom told us she was pregnant. My big brother guessed it before she even said. I cried and cried. I told her I didn’t believe her, I told her she was lying, I told her I hated her. I couldn’t be calmed.
My big brother came over to me.
You’re going to be a great big brother, he said.
I remember the first time I saw my baby brother. I wanted to hold him but my mom wouldn’t let me. My big brother got to hold him.
My little brother knocks on my door.
“Come in,” I say. He pokes his head through the door.
My little brother: “Hey, do you want to have a catch?” He tosses a baseball in my direction.
I hesitate. I look at my favorite little brother.
I pick up the baseball and start tracing my fingers over the seams, again and again in a never-ending loop. “Sorry, maybe later,” I say, not unkindly.
I have an older brother and a younger brother. Both of them have had tremendous impacts on me and being a younger brother and an older has given me a very unique perspective on both relationships. I wanted to explore that in more depth. – Rafi Bocarsly, USA, Age 18