Closed Eyes Open Hearts: Writings From 826 Valencia Young Authors’ Workshop 2012
His Mother’s Eyesby Harry Bendekgey
I will never envy the birds that can fly.
“Ostrich,” my younger brother says between mouthfuls of eggs, looking up from his seat at the kitchen table, “Why do they call me Peacock?” I have to twits my body to face him because my hands are in the sink, water gliding over them after making the morning’s breakfast. I can barely make out his eyes underneath ringlets of amber hair. I can’t help but smile.
“Cause you got your mom’s looks,” I say, drying off my hands and walking towards him. “ You got her hair.”
“Was she nice?”
I sit down in the chair next to him, leaning my cheek up against my fist, my elbow pressing on the table. “Yeah, I guess she was.” There’s silence for a moment while he finishes chewing.
“Ostrich,” he says again, looking into my eyes, “Why do they you Ostrich?”
“Cause I’m big, I’m tall, and I’m strong. And, if you get me mad I might just gobble you up!” I yell, leaning forward and tickling him, causing him to giggle and squirm, swinging his arms to push me back. He has his mother’s laugh, too.
After a long moment of listening to his giggles, I lean back and start to laugh myself. He glares at me despite the grin on his face. Once my laughter dies down, there’s silence again. I look over at the clock on the far wall and count backwards to see when he should leave.
“How come you stay at home when everyone else head out in the morning?” he asks, staring down at this food. I have to think of a moment and take a deep breath before answering.
“Cause Ostriches don’t fly.”
“So everyone else is out flying?”
“I laugh. “I guess you could say that.”
“I want to fly!” He chirped, look of excitement in his eyes.
I catch my breath and lean back at this remark. His bright blue eyes are completely serious. He doesn’t want to be like me when he grows up, but I was no different when I was his age. I never wanted to be like my father. “Peacocks don’t fly,” I say, reaching forward to squeeze his hand.
“But I want to fly!”
“No you don’t,” I cluck, pulling back and walking into the kitchen again. “Now, finish your eggs. You have to leave for school.”
I will never envy the birds that can fly, but I will always yearn for a home that can soar.
After pushing him out the door, I consider going for a walk; it’s a cloudy day but warm nonetheless. AS I gather my keys, Aunt Raven walks through the front door. She lives here with me, along with my other aunt and my three uncles- and of course my brother. I’ve lived with them ever since my parents died.
“Where’s Peacock?” She asks, pushing me aside in the hurry to shuffle through piles of keys.
“He’s at school,” I say with a cold voice. “Where he should be. Speaking of which, why aren’t you where you’re supposed to be?”
“I’m looking for my keys.” She responds with a patronizing smile, “I’m sure you’ve missed me lately. With your night job and all, we haven’t seen each other much.” There’s a pause, and I don’t respond. “Honey,” she coos, batting her eyelashes, “It’s time Peacock got working. We need the money.”
“It’s not up for negotiation. He’s going to school, so he won’t end up like you-like up. So he won’t end up like us,” I scolded, stepping forward and looking down to her, “He thinks that when you go out to work all day, you’re going out to fly.”
“Sweetie, let’s face it- you fly too”
There’s a pause.
“Raven, the seven of us together barely raise enough money to live here. My life- I mean, our lives- are awful, and he’s at home thinking that you go out and fly all day. He’s going to school.”
I will never envy the birds that can fly. There is nowhere to fly to if a home cannot move. I always yearned for a home that could soar, and that I got. When my brother left for college, he took my home with him and flew far away.