Evan’s wake

Noah was not a surprise. He took a lot of ‘work’ to conceive. But the person who arrived was unexpected. In the womb, he held his arms up close together on his chest, with his hands folded down like the paws of a mouse nibbling cheese. When the midwife caught him out of my wife onto our bed, and saw his fingers held close to his face, she suggested a pacifier to keep him from using his thumb instead. But Noah sucked on his mother for supper, and was satisfied with that.

Noah’s path to the pleasures of life was relatively easy, because his brother cleared the way. Evan the baby simply wasn’t told things like sugar cookies and televisions exist. He didn’t see them. He didn’t want them. When he finally suffered enlightenment, he promptly went to war for them. A whole series of prohibited foods, toys, and technologies was conquered one ugly battle at a time. His parents were exhausted by their first child. Evan’s spoils fell also to his little brother.

Evan has a generous soul, but he became contemptuous. Noah would cry, which seemed pointless and implausible, and then sometimes get what he wanted, which was unforgivable. Noah began to feign abuse to draw wrath upon his innocent brother, and Evan’s public spite became relentless.

But I followed them under the guanacaste trees, down the hard packed dirt and gravel on the way to the beach, when they’d forgotten they weren’t alone. The two little men shared stories and advice as they walked together, and I listened to them in the distance, laughing. Noah came from his public classes the other day and said, “I’m surprised how strong I am, at school. Having a four year older brother made me think I was pretty weak.”

Evan gathers himself up and launches straight into the world. Noah follows right along, enjoying the captured territory.

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