It's a story with a poem.


Stupid

So very stupid

But so very innocent

Hope that the greedy, ugly claws of Life never reach him

Wish that he'll stay innocent forever

Hope he'll never experience the pain

Wish I can always shield him

Hope that he'll never know the evil of this world,

That he'll never become acquainted with the malice that exists in people

I wish I could protect him for all eternity

And prevent that dead look from entering his eyes a second time

As if his spirit broke when he heard those spiteful words

From someone he would never have thought in a googol years would say that to him

Someone he loved more than anyone

Something no child

No one

Should ever hear

Wish with all my heart, if I still have one,

That

He'll forget all the bad and remember the good,

Even if it means he will not remember the times when I showed that I care

Even if he'll never remember that I love him

Wish he'll stay innocent forever

My little "horse,"

W. G.

A poem weaves itself into completion in my mind─I can't help it...─as my arms pull my baby brother closer to me. I rub his back, silent, while he sobs into my shirt. He clings to me, wanting some kind of comfort, some warmth from another human being─understandable, considering the coldness he just faced─even when I'm not the one he wants. There isn't anything I could say to make him feel better. I'm not much of a talker anyway. Nor do I know how to deal with crying people. Watching the weeping mess clutching my shirt, it occurs to me that maybe I should have at least tried to learn how. However even if there is anything to say, I'm not the one he wants to hear it from. Wil wants his mother to take back what she said. He wants to know that he is loved, wanted. It was partially my fault. If not all. I should have kept him away when I knew she wasn't in a mood to accommodate him. Our mother spoiled him when she was happy. However, when she just got out of an argument with the man who fathered us, that's when I knew I should distract Wil, so he wouldn't go near her. In times like that, that lady was just a fuse waiting to explode.

This time, I messed up. Wil was running a fever. He was fussy and wanted his mom. I couldn't give him what he wanted. I couldn't really bring her over to his side. She and her husband were fighting again. The subject of argument wasn't important. At least not to me. I just knew, in the heat of anger, she would be mean and spiteful to anyone at that point. I didn't want Wil anywhere near her. However, when I went off to get an ice pack and a towel, Wil stumbled out of our shared room. He was going to his mommy. Wil didn't make it to her. The urge to throw up overtook him and the ten-year-old wobbled his way to the kitchen sink. He was depositing the contents of his stomach when I arrived. I was rubbing his back, not knowing what else to do, when Wil's mom passed by us on the way to her bedroom. I was hoping she would go in. No such luck.

I could see Wil's face brighten as he wiped the vomit off his chin. No. Don't. She was in one of her moods. She finished screaming her lungs out at her husband not too long ago. If she saw his happy face, she would want to hurt Wil like she was hurting. She was that kind of person. I tugged at Wil to get him moving, but he didn't budge. He wanted his mommy. Forcing someone wasn't in my nature. I could try to guide, but, if the person didn't want it, there wasn't anything I could do, was there? Wil took somewhat unsteady steps toward her, smiling, reaching out for her. Her face screwed up in anger, reddening up in the process. I tugged at Wil again, knowing what was going to happen, hoping he'll go back in the room before it was too late. In her frame of mind right now, she was willing to take out her anger on anyone. Wil happened to be there. He was the easier target, the one who would actually show the pain felt because frankly he didn't know any other way. He was just a kid. She muttered bitterly to Wil, her face dark, angry.

"Damn brat, you're always sick. You cause trouble for me. For everyone around you. You should just die." As the words leaked from her mouth, dripping with venom, bitterness poisoning her features, Wil's face became wiped clean of emotions. It was as if he was shocked out of his emotions, the light in his eyes gone. His light... his soul... it disappeared. Not getting the full-blown sobbing she wanted, she stomped into her room, slamming the door, not knowing, not caring, what she just did to him. Or possibly she did. No, I knew she knew. She wanted to hurt him, anyone. She was a petty one. Some people... just shouldn't be parents... I kept rubbing Wil's back. I spoke.

My voice was a bit hoarse from disuse. "She didn't mean it. She was just mad, okay? It's okay. She didn't mean it."

This wasn't for her. Never for her. There wasn't anything I would do for that woman who I could have called mother but didn't. It was for Wil. I didn't want him to hate her. Or hate at all really. I didn't want him to lose his innocent self-confidence. I didn't want him to become like me. An emotionless stoic.

This is why I'm sitting in our room, not moving for fear that I'll wake up the sleeping form on me, as screams and insults are shot at two fighting parents. Wil had tired out from crying. He can't hear anything except for the lullabies playing from the headphones I put in his ears. He isn't moving around or twitching in his sleep, so he probably isn't in a nightmare. I close my eyes, retreating into my mind, not wanting to hear the outside world anymore.

Why do people get married? Who needs a piece of paper to prove that they're together? Then, when they want to separate, it's a pain in the behind. Half of all marriages end up in divorce anyway. All those claims of "I love you" and "together forever" don't mean anything if they prove to be just words with nothing to back them up. This so-called "love," it fades. The affection, or probably lust, you had for someone weakens and disappears with time. So why? Why get married? Why not just live together? Then when the "love" is gone. Say your farewells or remain friends. Whatever. It's easier in the long run, no? Then again it's your life. However, it's not just your life. You affect other people. Whether you choose to or not. Just by existing. Or possibly you have a bigger impact on their lives. Whatever the case, your life is interconnected with other people. You do something; don't expect that there won't be a ripple effect. So, in a way, everyone matters. Some people don't realize that, do they? While others take advantage of that fact.

God, I feel so tired...

Sigh... When will there be a time when children, like my baby brother, won't have to deal with this stuff anymore...? Having their innocence taken away when they were still young. When that never has to happen in the first place. I want Wil to be innocent a little longer. Forever, if possible. But that's not possible. Not in this world. I want him to be carefree. I want him to enjoy life. I want him to keep enjoying what I can no longer regain. It's adults like this that taint children's innocent happiness. They hurt. So they want others to, too. Sometimes, I forget who the real kids are. No, real kids are different. They don't try to shove their suffering on others. Hopefully, Wil will wake up and not remember this day. Even if he doesn't remember this rare occasion of when I somewhat openly showed some form of affection. I don't mind. It's his innocence I want to preserve. Maybe even that is too much to ask.

Outside, something smashes against the wall separating us and the fighting. Probably a bowl. More screams. A few more crashes. Swear words. The usual.

This place... I don't want to stay in this place. It's... I open my eyes and look down at the dreaming child on my lap. Sigh... it's not like I could leave. Just a few more years. Then, I'll be eighteen. Wonder if the court will let me adopt you. Or if I'll want the responsibility. Our elder brother already ditched us for college. Scholarship. He always was smart. Maybe I shouldn't adopt Wil. However, I can't leave Wil in this environment. Then again, I'm afraid, one day, I'll explode and lash out at Wil if I kept him by my side. Or anyone really. Bottling up emotions is bad. However, I've forgotten how to release them. I don't know how to express myself anymore. I don't know whether I should take Wil with me when I leave. Aren't the abused likely to become abusers themselves? I'm afraid I'll hurt Wil, whether emotionally or physically, it doesn't matter. The point is there's a possibility he would get hurt. At the same time, it's feasible that his mother might hurt him again.

In the end, it's his choice and I need to accept that. No matter how much I may not like it. Somehow, I know what he'll choose. Maybe I made a mistake in trying to shield him from his mother's malice all the time. Maybe I should have tried harder to find a way to show him what that lady was capable of while somehow protecting him. Sigh... there's no use thinking about the what ifs. There is no changing the past. I fail as an older sister. I'm sorry, little brother. I'm sorry, Wil.

Whatever you do, little one... don't try to grow up too quickly. You're good the way you are now. Stay innocent, Wil.


For those who don't understand the horse thing, it's a reference to the fact that the boy was born in the year of the horse. Chinese zodiac. Since he's born in that year, he's a "horse." It's my logic. Or maybe others do that, too.

Thank you for reading. A lovely present and future to you.