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green·stick fracture, n.

A partial bone fracture, usually occurring in children, in which the bone is bent but only broken on one side.

We were young once, slapping each other with electrical cords. Slap your opponent to the floor and you won, drop your weapon and you lost. Make your opponent bleed and you lost. Then we’d play doctor, and I’d wipe my brother’s lashings with a moist towelette and bandage his body up with toilet paper. We rarely bled, but when we did we kept it a secret. Our plastic swords had already been confiscated for that very reason, and the consequences for substituting our swords with sticks were far too daunting to make us ever want to try that again.

We were caught once, with electrical cords. A hair-dryer and a curling iron. We were warned of the possibilities of losing teeth or an eye, and we were separated for several hours. My brother, Harvey, was sent to our bedroom (we shared a room), and I was sent to Mum and Dad’s room. I didn’t mind too much though, because Mum and Dad had a bouncy bed and plenty of drawers to snoop through. When we were finally allowed to be together again, Harvey was wearing a sling and a homemade eye-patch. Mum dragged him back to our room and I peered from behind the bathroom door. When he refused to remove the eye-patch, Mum punished him to bed early. This meant a bath first. This meant revealing his lashings to Mum. Harvey stared at me the whole time with his one revealed eye.

I never saw the eye-patch again until the day Harvey went running with scissors at our birthday party. We were born at the very centre of the year, the fifteenth of June. Mum used to say that that was why we were twins, because astrologically we were as well, and she liked to believe a lot of that stuff. She was a lion, and I used to think that was why she could yell so loud.

Our birthday party involved twenty classmates - ten each, and two piñatas. They hung on separate branches, on separate sides of the same tree. Harvey, me, and our two groups of friends all took swoops with a broom. The piñatas wouldn’t burst, and Harvey got mad and left the party.

I hit my piñata softly until Harvey returned. His piñata became more brutalised, on the verge of bursting until he appeared again, scissors in hand with the eye-patch on his face. Before the rest of the party could realise he’d returned, Harvey took a fierce dive at his piñata and stabbed the paper-llama in the belly, sprinkling the garden and children with confetti and lollies. He landed on his face, next to my feet. The children giggled and collected the lollies around us, and I tapped him on the arm with my bare foot. Harvey rolled onto his back and wiped some dirt away from his eye.

When we were thirty we married the same year, and each had children a few years later, in the same year. Harvey had a boy, and I had a girl. Neither of us had twins.

I didn’t see much of Harvey after our marriages, he had moved to another city. I wrote sometimes, and called. Then one day I decided to visit him.

I drove there, brought my baby along with me, and gifts for his little boy – a teddy bear and a small pirate costume. Harvey greeted me at the doorstep with belated birthday wishes and invited me inside for some wine, or gin, or scotch. I suggested we take our new children for a walk, as mine was particularly restless from the long car trip and Harvey took to the idea; he was tired too, and tiredness made his eye twitch and he felt a walk usually wakes him up more so than a glass of drink.

We pushed our prams to the playground, and rested when we got there. It was quiet, and Harvey stared at his baby for a long time. Eventually I rose to my feet and wiped my trousers of woodchips and dirt.

“Come on,” I said and tapped his foot with mine, “Let’s go down the slide.” I extended a hand, noticed his baby and then him.

“The slide?” He looked at me. “I don’t do slides.”

“What do you mean you don’t do slides?”

He studied the playground and a part of his face twitched. His baby began to cry. “It’s a moral thing.” He leaned his arms into the pram and cradled his baby.

“A moral thing? I think you’re scared.”

“No. It’s strictly moral.” Harvey rocked his baby in his arms and frowned.

“Have a go, it won’t take long. It’s a three second slip.”

“Why not vote for a different government? Slap a passing stranger? That takes three seconds as well.”

“Harvey. Come on, don’t be silly.”

“Slides are silly,” he rose to his feet and his baby cried louder. “It’s moral. I choose not to.”

Harvey stood up from the bench and began to walk. He continued until he disappeared down the middle of the road, pushing the pram with one hand, his crying baby in the other, its little fat legs dangling below, its cries becoming softer.

I pushed my daughter’s pram over to the swing-set, and touched her sleepy cheek. Her hands moved as though playing with dream objects, and she nudged her feet around the inside of the pram with each touch. The seat was small and the chains were rusty, and through the wind blaring in my ears with each scoop and swing, I heard the chains creak and crack loudly, as I dipped back and forth, curious about the safety, back and forth, until I slowed down, gently, and stopped. Until there were no more creaks.

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