When we got home from basketball practice, brother was there. Standing in the driveway, staring the way he would at the autumn’s cold shadows growing long across the neighbor building’s closed garage doors. 

As soon as you saw him, you started writhing under the seatbelt, straining to struggle out of the oversized puffy jacket. You are going to freeze. “I want him to see,” you mumbled. I finished your sentence in my head: I want him to see this perfect polyester uniform, white stripey socks, shoes tied with careful double-knots.

I put the car in park, you spring out, he turns, brows furrowed with a look and a question that stops you in your tracks: “How can you be small as a mouse but tall as a house?” 

Shivering and silent, you’re stumped. His voice mock-stern, his eyes watching your face read his. He pauses, shifts his weight: “You thinking?” Yes, you promise with a nod. 

The two of you are locked in a stare as he begins the instructions: “Sit down. Grab your knees, that’s it, ball up, get small, smaller now—small as a mouse.” You don’t hesitate. 

“You ready?” Again, your nod is a promise. He picks you up in his large, dry hands and in one clean swift motion sits you on top of mama’s car. He said something I couldn’t hear and that grin was the result and this old picture I forgot we even had, this picture is you—shivering, small as a mouse but taller inside than any house.

Story by Jody Tate 

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