Seven Levels of Hate

.I.

"I hate you" I say without vigor, and suddenly I'm six again, repeating those words as you heave me onto your back. "I'm too old to be carried," I protest; you merely scoff. I give in, but only because my legs are sore from playing tag the whole day.

.II.

I'm seven now and it's your first day of middle school. I missed you during recess; there wasn't anyone keeping a wary eye to make sure I didn't injure myself jumping off the swing set.

I rush up the cement steps of your new school, but trip on the second stair. I brush myself off and five seconds later trip on the fifth step. Everyone has stopped to laugh by now and my cheeks are blushing scarlet. "What an idiot," they grin, "whose dorky little brother is that?" I want to cry but I remember what you and dad told me about 'putting up appearances', so I stand up proudly. I crumble the next moment because pain is shooting up my thigh, but I don't let a tear escape.

You exit the building and hurry towards me, your new friends watching from a distance. I can tell you're embarrassed because you have this weird tendency to pull on your fingers when you are, and I feel bad for putting you in this situation. Nevertheless, you pick me up and haul me to the car; if I was blushing before, I'm glowing now. "I hate you," I pout. You respond with a cheeky grin, all former discomfort forgotten, "No you don't". I don't argue.

You carry me the next three weeks as well, despite the heavy cast I'm sporting; a stupid grin is plastered on my face for the rest of the month.

.III.

Eight years old and I'm at the mall, mom's orders. I remember your complaints—"I can't take him along on a date!"—but she didn't listen and merely said it would be safer because you were going with a group. I can tell you're still a little angry, practically fuming, and glaring at me when the others aren't looking, but you cover it up with a charming smile and a lax arm around her waist.

We're exiting the theatre, having just seen one of the dumbest movies I've seen to date; it included far too much gross kissing. I can tell by the look of relief on your face you agree with me, yet you hide it as you talk to the bubbling girls next to you. You even sport what appears to be an authentic smile when the girl in your arms croons at you, "Wasn't it romantic?"

I'm bored of watching you flirt with the blonde, and my gaze drifts to the KB Toys on the level below us. I look back at you but you and your friends are all too busy discussing dinner plans, so I slip away.

It takes you a full five minutes to even notice my disappearance, but when you do you start pacing rapidly—another strange habit, this time signaling that you're worried or stressed—before you and your friends spread out and search the mall for me. I might've been a little touched by this action if I wasn't too busy drooling at a high-powered water gun, as it is, I am.

You've always been the intelligent type, although you try to maintain a cool persona as well, and you figure out where I am in less than three minutes—what else would interest and eight-year-old boy? Designer Ts? Unlikely. You find me reaching for the highest shelf, struggling to grab the water gun.

Ignoring my objections and outcries of "It's the last one!" and "I need it to beat Jimmy!", you lift me up onto your back. "It's to make sure you don't run off again", you say, interrupting my declarations of hate.

I get the water gun a week later for my birthday; it becomes my favorite toy.

.IV.

Finally nine, and old enough to go into the deep end of the pool, without adult supervision. I make a perfect dive—just like how you taught me—but resurface, gasping desperately for air. I'm treading water as fast as I can, but my violent choking prevents me from getting enough air, let alone shouting for help.

You arrive, ready to swim a few laps and get your body in tone for water polo season, but spot me splattering helplessly. Firmly lifting me out of the water, you place me on your back. I wheeze out an "I'm too big to be carried now", but you simply squeeze what little body fat I have covering my stomach, "Does this look big to you?" I frown, but keep things simple with an "I hate you," before you walk us to the pool house so I can lie down.

.V.

At age ten, I had my first epiphany: Santa Claus was not real. I had discovered a mountain of wrapped presents in the garage and was currently bawling my eyes out. "I hate you, I hate you, I hate you!" I screamed as I pounded my fists into your chest. For ten years straight you'd been lying to my face, and I wondered if everything else you spouted was untrue as well.

You hug me closely and murmur "I'm sorry" over and over again into my ear. I forgive you when you give me a piggyback ride throughout the mall, laughing at all the overweight men in red suits, because for once, I'm too distraught to care.

.VI.

At eleven years old, I'm not so little anymore, not so clumsy, and not so naïve. I'm already as attractive as you were at my age, with a growing band of followers, shadowing my every move. I've inherited your somewhat cocky attitude and talent of being the best at everything, and in a way, I hate you for it. I blame you, you're the reason I never get a free weekend or have a peaceful school day anymore.

I'm too proud for piggyback rides now, and at age sixteen, you're exhausted anyway. You realize this, but make me a promise nonetheless, "I'll always be there to carry you when you need it". I kiss you on the cheek that day, because it's the first, and last, promise you ever made me, and it feels good to know you care.

.VII.

I'm back at fourteen again, watching your coffin being lowered into the ground. For the first time in three years, I feel the need to be carried, but no one is around to do so. Tears are cascading down my face—forget 'putting up appearances' and 'boys don't cry', I'm angry dammit!—and I tell myself they are bitter tears, tears of betrayal. We've drifted apart, both of us too wrapped up in our own lives, but I had always held you to that promise, yet you do the exact opposite of what you had said, because instead of lifting me high when I've fallen to the ground, you pushed me.

"I hate you," I reiterate, as though to confirm my feelings, yet we both know—wherever it is that you are—that it's all a lie.


Author's Note: Ugh, I'm rereading this and it's choppy, messy, and all over the place. The ending is really lame too, but I'm too lazy to rewrite this right now. In my defense, however, I wrote this at eleven o'clock last night when my brain was fried from studying for my French final—I hope there aren't too many grammar errors. All the same, YAY!! My first one-shot!! It started off as a poem, but as you can see, it got a little long :D. Please review and let me know what you think.