July 3 | John Adams

 

Five years.

Five years together, and you’re ready to forget me. To replace me. To casually cast me aside like an outgrown jumper, holes in its pockets, dirt on its bum, its purpose served. Our time together—moments I ferociously devoured then and desperately cling to now—is already forgotten by you.

I clench my fist—tighter, then tighter still. The object held within bites a dull, plastic impression into my fingers. Not yet. Soon. But not yet.

With my other hand, I wrap the blanket around my shoulders. Its embrace is as familiar as yours.

I found the blanket in the linen closet. Stuffed under old toys, like your feelings for me. I stopped there as I trekked through the dark house. My bare feet, silent against the carpet. Your bedroom door, opened slowly to avoid that familiar squeak, that squeak that would wake you.

Wake you and him.

I stare down at you, asleep in your bed. Warm. Smiling. Satisfied.

And I stare at him, too. That face. Confident. Bold. Knowing he’s won. Knowing he’s taken my place.

But he doesn’t know what’s coming next.

None of you do.

I raise the small piece of sculpted plastic, studying it in the moonlight peeping through your window. Yes. This will do perfectly.

I pop it right into my mouth.

Without a hint of ceremony, I release my shiny baby blanket, the silver lining around its edges as fake as any love you claimed for me. It tumbles to the floor like parental disregard for an eldest son.

And I unleash my fury. “A tantrum,” you would say. “Justified impropriety,” I would say. My feet stomp. My hands clap. My mouth, encumbered as it is by the plastic figurine, screeches.

He hears me first. That thing sleeping between the two of you that I refuse to call “baby brother.” His disturbingly large eyes spring open, followed by that unfathomable mouth. He pierces into an unrelenting wail, much louder than any noise I’m making, not that either of you will care.

You wake first, Mother. Then you, Father, with a quick reach to turn on the bedside lamp.

“Sebastian, what on Earth…?” Father asks as Mother tries to stifle the fiend who usurped me.

Your attention momentarily seized, I spit the wobbly Fisher-Price firefighter figure from mouth to ready hand and brandish it like a saliva-drenched trophy. I shrug modestly and toss it onto my baby blanket.

“Just because my body emits a foul object doesn’t mean it must further burden me,” I say. “Nor must your emitted foulness further burden you.

At least, that is what I want to say. Since I have not yet such command of language, I instead belt out, “Mommy! Daddy! Why can’t I sleep here too?”

You stare at me. Both of you.

No. All three of you.

Then… through sleep-deprived delirium… you laugh, Mother. Then you, Father. And that… thing? It laughs, too.

It laughs.

And laughs.

And laughs.

Good God. It’s a monster.