We shared one room, the three of us. Dirt floors, hole-filled curtains. It wasn’t poverty–it was a playhouse. And it attracted every kid in the neighborhood.
The playhouse also, strangely, attracted small chunks of metal. The wood, the steps, the curtains, my legs–these were all at some point mysteriously magnetic to the bullets from my brother’s bb gun.
Coincidentally, Dad chose this time to give my brother something constructive to do–literally. It was time to build a second floor to the playhouse, he said–No Girls Allowed.
(Dad probably thought he was protecting us; separating us like crazy kids in a rowdy classroom. But I thought dad was giving my brother a guards’ tower view of the entire back yard, from which we would never be safe from the hades that would rain down.)
The construction distracted us. My brother spent hours up there, with his friends, doing what–I will never know; because even after the second floor was finished, the boy stuck fiercely to the rule of No Girls Allowed.
Until one day. He brought her up there. I guess she didn’t count, but man, if he was gonna pick a girl–he sure did pick a hairy one.
Our six-month-old puppy. The trip up the narrow wooden ladder went well, but we all know the saying is true: What Goes Up Must Come Down.
The dog was, we learned, terrified of heights. She also had very sharp teeth. And she showed us her full smile every time my brother brought her near the edge of the playhouse, complete with ugly snarls (the dog’s–not my brother’s).
Suddenly, all rules were demolished. Anyone–even if she was a girl–could come to the top of the playhouse if they were willing to brave the dog’s smile and help get her down from there.
I’m ashamed to say I don’t remember how it all ended, but I guess the dog came down, because I do remember she never went near that ladder again.
From then on, the dog chose the occasional magnetic bullets, dirt floors and hole-filled curtains–what some might call poverty. We girls called it No Boys Allowed, and as we all know, that’s about as rich as it gets.
What memories do you have with your sibs?
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