“This one’s for you.” Steve propelled a red and green present across the carpet toward me. “And this one’s for me.” He smiled, placing it on top of his growing stack of gifts.
I studied Steve’s pile, and marveled at how he always managed to make Santa’s list. He wasn't a horrible brother. Sometimes he was my best friend. But other times, his naughty outweighed his nice. Especially when it came to his little sister. He particularly liked destroying my toys. Like the year Santa gave me a Mrs. Beasley doll.
“I do think you're the nicest little friend I ever had.” Mrs. Beasley and I did become good friends. We spent hours playing together. Through good times and bad, she always greeted me with a warm smile and pleasant conversation.
Until that tragic day when she stopped talking.
I’m not sure I’ll ever know my brother’s motive for such a heinous crime. Maybe it was curiosity; attempting to see what makes a doll speak. Maybe it was payback for an annoying little sister. Or maybe he was just having a bad day. Whatever the reason, poor Mrs. Beasley endured an awful fate the day Steve ripped out her voice box. She never spoke another word.
Looking back I’ll admit I wasn't the perfect sister. Steve probably got tired of me following him around and badgering him to play. I suppose he didn't appreciate me snooping through his room, or tattling to Mom when he beheaded my Barbies. But through all our fights I had a sneaking suspicion. He would never admit it, but I suspected that somewhere, deep down in his heart, Steve had a soft spot for his little sister.
I took one look at that candy and wished I could go to school. Why did I have to stay home with Mom? I wanted a Christmas party!
“Go ahead. Take it,” he said, tossing me the bag.
I studied his innocent expression. Is he serious? Why would he give it to me? Maybe he dropped it on the bus floor. I finally decided to trust him.
“Thanks!” I dug my hand deep into the bag.
"Whatever,” he said, making a face.
“Hey Mom, there’s a present with your name on it.” My oldest daughter held up a shiny red box.
A present for me? “Who’s it from?” I glanced around the room. No one else seemed particularly interested.
“Doesn’t say.” She handed me the gift. My girls gathered beside me.
I ripped back the paper and immediately spotted the words “Collectible Doll” printed across the box.
A puzzled look settled across my daughters’ faces as if to say, what’s so special about a blue, polka-dotted doll? But I knew why she was special. Mrs. Beasley confirmed the suspicions I’d had all along. After all these years, my big brother still had a soft spot for his little sis.
Across the room, Steve glanced up from his pie – and shrugged.