I sat impatiently watching as Alex, my older brother, set up our new video game. He had gotten it as a gift from our grandparents and wanted to test it out with me. Alex was better than any other older brothers because he actually bothered to pay attention to me. You could say we were closer than any other siblings I knew. Well, okay maybe not closer, but definitely friendlier.
“C’mon Alex, just get it started! We don’t have all day!” I called to him, giggling as he turned to me smirking.
“Listen, ya little pig,” he said, reaching towards me, “ your amazing brother is allowing you time within his kingdom of games, YOU should be setting this up!”
I squealed as he grabbed me and began tickling me.
“A-alex!! You aren’t a king!” I cried, swatting at his hands and desperately trying to catch my breath, “I’m only a few years… younger! Stop it!! S-s-stop!” He just laughed, my fit of hysterical giggling mixing with his.
After he had stopped and I had caught my breath we had gotten the game up and running. I can’t really remember well what it was called, some shooting game, like every other.
Except it wasn’t.
This game told you your kills and if you had gotten someone straight in the head, an announcer voice would sound ‘Headshot!’. Every time it said it so officially, Alex would just start copying it in a ridiculous voice.
“Boom, headshot!” he would scream out, sending me into another round of laughs. I think we had spent the entire day sitting in front of his screen, just sharing laughter. We grew up happy, a childhood of smiles. At a mere eleven, my brother was my whole world. I admired him; looked up to him.
I remember the day he tried to teach me how to properly play video games, when I was younger. He never let me get frustrated, no matter how bad I was doing. He’d just ruffle my shaggy blonde hair and tell me to try again.
I can almost picture it now, a chubby freckled face staring with determination at a screen as his older carbon copy watched on in approval. That was how we spent our days, together, playing video games. As we grew and became more social and active, it was more of a ritual to have a game day for bonding at least once a week. I never actually understood why we stopped those. I don’t even remember when we did; it was a really gradual thing. It’s the little things that count the most.
It’s what most people in their busy lives don’t stop to consider, like when I got lost in a damn department store as a toddler, our mother didn’t notice, but Alex had disappeared not long after me to grab me from my hiding place in the frilly tops. We used to joke about that all the time, how stupid he and I both were. It’s the memory of laughing together with him that meant the most.
Which is why, years later, I’m stuck standing in a too-tight suit with stubble on my worn face, staring down at my brother, his eyes closed peacefully with a ghost of a smile resting on the lips of his that had never truly stopped smiling.
I don’t think I will ever truly understand though, why he had to be the one in the coffin, about to be placed to rest with a bullet wound on the side of his forehead.