Her Imaginary Big Brother

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How she wanted an older brother. He would take care of her. He would protect her. They would not have one of those I hate you, you suck relationships. They would be buddies. He would think she was a kick-ass little sister.  She would idolize him.

Her older brother would be great at sports, wise, sarcastic and funny, and at least six inches taller than her. He would have broad shoulders but he would be lean. He would play the guitar and write his own songs. He would wear old jeans and old flannel shirts and hiking boots. Occasionally, he would wear a blue bandana or a funny hat. So what if these are 70’s cliches? She wouldn’t care, and neither would her big brother.

When she was little, her big brother would take it upon himself to build her the treehouse of dreams. He would play basketball with her and coach her in the art of the pull-up, so that she would astound everyone with her pull-up score on the Presidential Fitness Test. If she was sad, her big brother would literally pick her and put her on his lap and cradle her.

That is her big brother, right there. See him? He’s the one who, when she gets to high school and he spots her in the hall, crosses over to scruff her head. She is mascot to his friends and they adopt her as their little sister too. When she gets older and prettier – she can’t stay unpretty like this forever, right? please tell her no – her big brother’s friends look at her one day as if they don’t recognize her, as if she’s a real girl.

But her big brother protects her. Nobody’s going out with my little sister unless I say so, he says. But he has good taste, he’s wise, remember, and the one friend of his that she really likes, the one she has secretly liked for many many years, is the one he gives the nod to.

And it all works out perfectly. And it keeps working out perfectly, all their lives long.

The treehouse stays solid and strong, and neither of them ever get too old or too brittle to climb up into it. And all her life she remains a pull-up whiz. At some point she too takes up the guitar and they sit up late at night making up songs that make them laugh, and they don’t care how their voices make everyone else wince. The Greek restaurant that he used to take her to when she was in junior high is still there, going strong, and all their favorite items are still on the menu, and the owners recognize them whenever they walk in together, even if years have passed.

This is the way it is, between her and her big brother, her imaginary big brother, the one she’s dreamed of her whole life long.

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