We are nine brothers and sisters, with two years gaps. Papa said it is called Family Planning. I once told Mama, when I realized how many we were, that she’s a pig.
People say the more the merrier. But not in my house. When all of us eleven were staying together, every day, everybody was fighting. I supposed the neighbors were annoyed but couldn’t complain because they knew the noise wouldn’t stop unless we’re all out of the house.
I only played with my brother Greg. He was like a brain, with a face. New day, newly invented game. Every time my other siblings would try to invite me to their games, I would ran after them and kick their butts and bite their arms. No logical reasons, I just hated them.
Greg was my leader, and for me, my only family. Papa smoked a lot, so by default I hated him. Mama played cards a lot and lost money a lot, and so I hated her too. My other brothers would destroy all toys my sisters had, and my sisters would steal all money my other brothers had. They revenge a lot, and so I hated them - a lot.
It was summer of 2010 when God played a dangerous game with me and Greg. I was six, Greg was eight. There was a family reunion in another town and we’re all invited. Greg didn’t want to go, and so I didn’t want to go. By ten in the morning, we were alone in the house.
We went to the seaside, watched the fishermen laid the nets on the silver sea, and buried our feet in the sand.
“Come here, Jim,” he said, tapping his legs. Jim is short for my real name Jameson. I pulled my feet out of the sand and sat on Greg’s leg. “You know what will happen to me, right?”
I didn’t know, but I said “Yes!”
“Yeah? So, Jim, tell me what will happen to me, maybe by the end of this month?”
His arms were clasped on my chest. I could hardly say anything because he hugged me tightly. When he stopped pressing my chest, I said, “You’re having your ninth birthday.”
I looked up. His face was upside-down. He said, “It’s May, my birthday’s in June, you forgetful Jim!”
Facing up, I realized Greg’s eyes were the cleanest. They’re whiter than my teeth, and his pupils were blacker than my hair. I wish I had those pair of eyes. When my head felt heavy and my neck hurt, I stopped looking into his eyes and just looked at the little waves.
I thought it was gonna rain when a water dropped on my forehead. But then I heard Greg crying, and so I cried. I looked up again. The clean eyes gone. He cried a lot lately. It started the last week when they got home from the hospital. My parents had avoided buying meat, saying it’s for the sake of Greg, and they won’t tell me what’s happening because I was too young to understand.
Greg touched my ears, holding my head down. He didn’t like me seeing him cry. He said, “You see that fisherman? He’s like God. There’s no way of knowing what kind, or how old the fish He’s gonna caught. So, Jim, if you don’t have me, what do you want to have?”
As soon as I saw Coin destroying the sand castle some kids were building, I jumped up and told Greg I want Coin. No one owned Coin, a tailless golden puppy, who loved to run around all day.
“If you don’t have me,” I said, sitting back on his legs. “What do you want to have? Don’t choose Coin, he’s mine now.”
“If I don’t have you,” he said, two drops of tears hit my nose. I wiped them with my shirt. He continued, “If I don’t have you... I will not have anything else.” And more tears fell down onto my face.
Two weeks after, when the sun was about to rise up, and the sea was golden, I sat down on the seaside, alone. It was the last Sunday of May and all the people were off to church attending the funeral for Greg. I pretended I was sitting on Greg’s legs, looking up into his clean eyes. And I said, “I changed my mind, Greg… If I don’t have you… I will not have anything else.”