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A Tale of a Girl and Her Brother

by Shiny Pyxis

Shiny Pyxis Based on a real story. It's split into two parts, one from his point of view and one from hers, set more than 10 years apart. The first part is a couple of years old, and the second part was written for college apps as one of my essays. I didn't want to post them as separate works, since they are, in a way, tied together.
It had started out as any other day. I had woken up thanks to some bright light shining on my face from outside, and walked out of my room to the table everyone always ate at. I put something gooey and starchy but otherwise tasteless into my mouth before I was led out of the hut to walk on the streets with these two girls about the same height as I was. They walked up to a stand, pointed at a squishy white hunk (which I knew would taste starchy and feel very fluffy in my mouth) before giving the wrinkly guy behind the stand a piece of paper. We would then walk to another stand, and the girls would point at a small red box that, from my experience, contained little things that went "krrch" when you bit on it and tasted salty. They gave the person a few circular metal objects before picking up a couple of the boxes. After this, we walked back home, the girls talking quickly, each holding onto one of my hands. Sometimes I would see a furry creature, which would make a sharp noise when it saw us. I would try to run away, only for the girls to pull me back.

By the time we got home, everyone else was seated around the table again. I sat down, and someone, holding two wooden sticks in his fingers, would put food into my mouth. Salty things, sweet things, oily things, slimy things, soft things... whatever he put in my mouth, I would swallow and wait for him to bring more food. Once, he tried to feed me something that felt like it was burning my tongue, and I spat it onto his face. But he didn't seem to care, and just continued to feed me until my bowl was empty.

After we ate, I would walk around the hut a bit as the old guy slept on his bed and everyone else went outside to work in the fields. They seemed to talk more than usual, though I couldn't understand why. One of the girls came back into the hut once just to look for me before going back outside. She and a few others did this a few times before everything became too dark to see. Once that happened, everyone came in, lit a few lamps, and, instead of going back to the table like what we did on normal days, they stood by the largest opening in the hut.

A very long time later, one of the taller guys came back, accompanied by another tall guy and a girl who couldn't have been higher than my legs, both of them wearing clothes I've never seen before. Everyone then yelled before running forward, embracing the strangers tightly. A boy then went up to the short girl and spoke to her, and the next thing I knew she was running toward me, her mouth curving upwards into a smile. She then started talking to me, but, not being able to understand anything when anyone spoke, I just stared at her blankly. Who was this shorty? Why was she here, along with that tall guy over there? I had questions teeming in my head, but when I tried to speak, everyone just looked at me and laughed before patting me on the back. Frustrated and tired, I decided to go back to my room to sleep, thinking that these strangers might leave the next time it got bright outside. Little did I know that they had decided to stay longer than that.

When I woke up, the first thing I heard was laughing in the direction the table was in. Getting up, I slowly walked over to the table, and there they were: tall stranger and short girl. When the girl saw me, she smiled like she did yesterday, then ran over and hugged me before talking again. I just grunted before I sat down in my seat, waiting for someone to lift some food up to my mouth. The tall new guy came over and sat next to the girl, holding two sticks in his hand, before he began feeding me my food, as if he had done this before. He then spoke to me, and something about his voice triggered a faint memory in my head: a warm day outside, surrounded by grass, flowers, and bright light. I shook the memory out of my head, not knowing where it came from, and kept eating until the bowl was empty. The girl, whose own bowl was also clean of food, then jumped out of her seat, took a hold of the guy's hand, and, after a quick exchange of words, skipped out of the hut rather happily.

I continued with my daily routine, going outside with the same two girls as the day before and bought some food. By the time we got back, the little girl and the tall guy were already at the table, both of them apparently rather tired and not hungry for some reason. I didn’t care, though, since I was hungry and I wasn’t tired. After the two girls and I sat down with the others, we started eating, with the tall stranger feeding me again.

After our bowls were empty again, everyone except for the strangers and the wrinkly old guy went outside and worked. I wandered through the hut, as usual, not knowing what to do. Suddenly, I saw movement from the corner of my eye, and instinctively turned around to see what it was. And there she was, smiling up at me. The short girl took my hand, and tried to say something to me. I only grunted, not knowing what she was saying like usual, but I soon found myself being led out of the hut. Maybe we were going out to buy something again? That had to be the only answer, as we wandered through the streets. The girl kept talking, her words coming out more quickly than anyone else I knew, smiling the whole time.

A long while later, I heard yelling from far behind, but she ignored it, so I supposed it wasn’t important. The yelling continued, though, and soon the girl responded, turning around. I looked back, and saw the tall guy, waving at us frantically while he shouted something at us. The girl looked at me and smiled again before leading me back the way we came from. I was utterly confused by then, but what did it matter? I wasn’t supposed to know anything that went on around here, anyways.

Once we got back to the hut, the light outside was already starting to dim, and I knew we were going to eat for the last time before going to sleep. We came together and sat around the table, the tall guy on my right, the short girl on my left. I was expecting the tall guy to feed me, like he did the last two times, but instead I found the little girl waving the two sticks around in my face, holding a slimy pink thing in them. Pointing it at my mouth, I reluctantly opened it for her, and was soon chewing the bit of food she had given me. As I looked at her, waiting for the next piece of food, I saw her look at the tall guy and grin before repeating, this time holding something green up. We repeated this for a while until the girl suddenly gave the sticks to the tall guy, who continued for her. The food was soon gone, the bowl was empty, and the girl and guy got up, said something to everyone at the table, and left, heading for the unused room. The guy came back soon, and took me to my room, which he seemed to know very well where it was. As I lied down onto the place I slept on every day, he kissed me on the forehead, said something in a gentle voice, and walked away.

The same thing happened day after day; I would wake up and find the two strangers at the table with everyone else. After we ate, the girl and the guy will go outside while I went out with the two girls. Coming back to the hut, everyone would eat again, and then go outside, the girl taking me out to walk every time. As the light dimmed, we would get back to the hut and eat one last time before going to bed.

And all the while, the girl kept saying two things over and over again: “brother”, and another word that I had never heard before.

A quarter moon passed before the routine changed; once everyone had finished eating, instead of going outside, the girl and the guy hugged everyone and spoke something before going back to their room. They soon emerged, carrying the black boxes they had brought with them. For some reason, everyone’s eyes were wet, though I didn’t understand why. When the guy who had brought them here went outside with them, though, I suddenly knew that they were leaving. For a shocking moment, I thought the two were gone for good.

Then, the girl came back, looked up at me, and hugged me, saying “brother” the whole time. Subconsciously, I put my hand on her head, and said something that I knew she could understand.

Her name.


Dearest Brother,

I don’t know how long it’s been. Ten, eleven, maybe even twelve years? I’m not too sure, Mom and Dad aren’t telling me anything; I get the feeling they’re trying to forget about your existence. At least, that’s what seems to be happening at home, because every time I bring up a topic about trying to get you here to America, Mom stays quiet, and Dad just looks at me for a few seconds before quickly changing the subject.

I kinda of regret not spending as much time as I could with you, but our parents wouldn’t let me talk to you much the last time I saw you. I did enjoy our many walks outside, though. Do you remember them? You probably don’t, but while we were together I would take you outside, and we would just stroll down the dusty street together, hand in hand: just you and me, as normal siblings would, having some silent one-on-one time together. Even though we never talked to each other, I feel like we really bonded during our walks, with the way you squeezed my hand like you wanted to comfort me about your life. Or maybe it was the other way around; maybe you needed the reassurance that I was there.

And remember dinner times? I knew you weren’t allowed to come and eat with us, because that meant we had to deal with you dropping food all over the table. But even so, I would quickly finish my meal and go over to your room to just talk to you. Though you didn’t quite understand any of the words I spoke to you, you still seemed to know exactly what I’m saying. Your eyes lit up ever so slightly, and you leaned forward and tilted your head just a bit to the side, almost like you were thinking. I think you even cried with me once, with silent tears dripping down your face as you listened to me lament about something trivial. I don’t know what goes on through your mind when I talk to you, but I’m just glad you never try to interrupt me when I talk. That’s so sweet of you.

Now that I think about it, we should’ve taken some pictures together back then! But we’re probably both so different now. I mean, I’ve grown from the little girl who was only about three feet tall to a woman taller than our own mother! What about you? You were only fourteen then, and you’re, what, in your mid twenties now? I’ll be looking forward to the next time I see you, then. I bet you have a lot of little whiskers now, like daddy, and grown quite a bit. Maybe you’re even taller than our dad.

Man, I really do hope we can see each other again really soon. I think about you every day, and for the strangest reasons, too. Whenever I read a story about a family getting together again, or a father bonding with his son, or even when I watch a documentary on mental diseases, I can’t help but think about you. I know getting you to America is hard, but I’ll help you come here even if Mom and Dad aren’t going to. I promise you, even when they’re not around and can’t help us anymore, I’ll find a way to get you over here. And then, we can be together again, as a family should be.

Much love,
Your little sister, Carolyn