When We Were Young

I still remember that day. The day when I lost him.

Jamie and I would stay with our Aunt Isabelle every other weekend, we would watch old movies together whilst eating her famous sugar cookies. He would always have one too many, the greedy pig. Isabelle used to warn him about the ‘tummy tickles’ but he just couldn’t resist that sweet almond icing and those sprinkles. His bright blue eyes used to widen right up every time he saw ’em. I swear that lady must have had a whole pantry full of sprinkles as every visit they were made up differently, just for us.

The last time I tasted one of those cookies with my brother by my side was the day before it happened.

On that day, after all the biscuits had been devoured, we spotted a man stood out on Aunt Isabelle’s porch. She didn’t ever have a man round, heck, she didn’t ever have a woman round. In our minds, she waited thirteen days for our return and made more cookies in the meantime. The man seemed a little brutish to two small children. Large features, dark hair, built as big as they come. We never found out who he was, but I remember Aunt Isabelle screamin’ at him right to this day.

She shooed him outta the yard, down in to the distance through the dead, black trees. ‘Inquisitive’ children that we were, (Momma said we were ‘Royal pains in the butt!’ but Aunt Isabelle always had a better way with words) we followed the fighting, screaming adults out onto the porch so we could get a better view of the drama.

The skies were dark, it would soon be night-time, the cold told me so. Only in our comfy loungewear (made for eating junk and watching movies) the freezing air swept through our bodies as we watched the show unfold. It wasn’t long before the big, bad man had gone and Isabelle made her way back to the house, ushering us back inside towards the warm fire.

‘STUPID CHILDREN,’ she hollered, tears streaming down her face. ‘YOU ARE NOT TO BE OUTSIDE THIS TIME O’ NIGHT. YOU HEAR ME? YOU WILL CATCH YOUR DEATHS!’ she reaffirmed. This was the only time Aunt Isabelle would ever truly scare me and Jamie. I could feel him shaking beside me, wondering where his sugar-cookie baking fairy godmother had gone.

Looking back, I can see whatever happened to Aunt Isabelle that day with the strange man really hurt her deeply. I saw it right up until her death, some years later. Her warm heart had been thawed for some unknown reason. Of course, as a child I wasn’t quite so understanding.

That night, me and Jamie made an escape plan, to get back home to Mom and Dad. Never before had we wanted to go back home in our lives, I can assure you. I gathered essentials like my favourite Barbie whilst Jamie raided the kitchen for supplies. He returned with a box of pancake mix, half a loaf of bread and a spare cookie he must’ve had stashed somewhere.

We set off a few minutes later, towards the trees that were once black and dead. Perhaps they were still black and dead, but aside the night sky it was hard to tell.

What happened next is a little blurry to me, all I can say is that I lost my little brother that night, my Jamie. Never again would I tease him, cuddle him, or steal the last sweetie in the packet. I didn’t know until afterwards, but all of that’s pretty difficult to do when you’re dead.

Yes, my name was Caitlyn Marie Alaina and I died that night, aged nine, so my gravestone says anyhow. My family still visit sometimes, but I guess a lot of time has passed since then.

Aunt Isabelle has joined me since, and the visits from my Jamie become less and less frequent. I barely recognise him now, so muscular and so much facial hair. Why, he’s a man. Although, deep down I’m sure that he’s still the same seven-year-old sugar cookie guzzler that he always was.

Composed using a writing prompt from creativewriting.ie

Constructive criticism is always welcome. Thank you for reading! 

R.J. x

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