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BAMBOO SHOOTS
Works of fiction and poetry by friends of Bamboo Ridge Press.

THIS IS A YEAR OF THE HORSE CONTEST ENTRY

Birthday Blood

Published by LANNING | Sunday, May 04, 2014 7:25 AM


562 words


     My brother has a good number of scars, many on his head. Most of them are self-inflicted, like from riding the dog as if it were a horse, or dropping the glass fishtank on his feet.
      It was the morning of my brother’s thirteeth birthday party, which would have made me nine. He had entered the teenage years, and there was no looking back.
      He and my mom were getting ready for all of her school friends to come over and celebrate. The current activity was blowing up balloons using one of those portable helium tanks. The balloons would beeline it up to the ceiling and sit there, like gigantic eggs. Occasionally one would pop. This seemed to scare my brother as he would flinch each time one would go off. I tested my theory out by popping one or two here and there just to watch him react.
      With his brotherly charm, he’d say something like, “Knock it off, you little doodoohead.”
      I’d pop another one just to show him I didn’t give a rip what he said or thought.
      “Mom!” he yelled. “Before I have to punch his lights out, tell butthead to stop popping the balloons.”
      We looked at my mom. She gazed straight ahead, glued to the TV, as if she’d taken one hit too many of the gas. She was not to be fazed and continued blowing up balloons like a machine.
      I guess I finally had popped one too many balloons for my brother’s tastes, because he let fly a punch unlike his usual stinger. I mean, it looked like he wanted to punch me back into the last century. But I was faster. I jumped and turned in the air, but in so doing, I kicked the helium canister which was barely standing upright. Those things weigh a ton too, so I hurt my toe kicking it. But that was nothing compared to what happened to my brother in the next split second.
      It was like a slow motion movie. He lunged for the canister as it fell toward the TV. Although managing to push it away from the set, he was unable to change his own momentum toward it. He hit the TV, which rocked back and forth and then fell crashing on his head.
      If I thought I heard my brother yell loudly before, it was nothing like this kind of ultimate scream he let out. No, he had never screamed a scream like the one he let loose when that TV fell on his head.
      And the blood. There was so much I thought he was dead already. Let me tell you, I am not one to shy away from blood, and I’ve had my fair share of various lacerations in my time, but even I felt a bit woozy when my mom lifted the set to expose what looked to be left of him.
      We all went to the emergency room. There were about a million stitches.
      My brother survived, as he did all of his scarring accidents, but he does not look well in any of his thirteenth birthday photos, and the heavy bandaging of his head does not improve his appearance. I believe that even to this day, he blames me for what happened, and maybe he’s right, even though I always thought he was pretty unlucky in general



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