We all had a stake in it; we all had something to win and something to lose. We just didn’t know it at the time. Life begins and ends, usually we never know either or what’s in between.

Harry was the first. Of course he was. He was born screaming and batting his arms at the world, ready for everything – every fight, every challenge. And often creating them himself. Barbara came next. Small and mighty. Always the one to jump right in…once someone else went first, usually Harry. Her entry into this world was exactly the same. Her and Harry are twins. She came along two minutes after him. She says she pushed him out, she’d had enough of him. She talks about everything as if it they are all her ideas. Even when it isn’t. She just can’t shut up sometimes.

Bobby is next. Bobby is “that guy”. That guy whose presence is nearly invisible until suddenly you need him and there he is. Bigger than life. His birth was unexpected. A surprise in all ways. They say he just “slipped out”. No fuss, no delay. It was time to be born and then there he was. He’s the one that materializes out of nowhere to be in the right place at the right time. He can be both a teddy bear and a grizzly bear.

Then there was me. The watcher. I see all and hear all but speak little. I came into this world silently (and will probably go out the same way). I was the one that required the slap on the ass to proclaim my existence. Eyes intently scanning the blurred forms around me, blinking under the harsh bright lights, wishing I could close my ears to the onslaught of noise around me. I’d say I was the brains of the operation. The consciousness of the group.

God knows someone needed to be.

The Fall

I don’t remember when it happened. It was a long time ago. I was supposed to be in bed but I couldn’t sleep. My door creaked as I opened it. I stopped and waited, listening to the sounds of the house. My father continued to snore and my mother continued to sleep. I wondered how she slept through that.

I headed down the hallway towards the stairs. It was so dark. There was no light coming in the window from the street lights outside. At the time, I didn’t wonder why. My bare feet stepped lightly on the cool wooden floor, my hands out to my sides trailing along the wall to keep from bumping into things. I reached the top of the stairs and stopped. I reminded myself to be careful of the third step – it always creaked so loud I thought people could hear it outside.

I tapped my right foot forward feeling for the edge of the stair. Then I moved my left foot beside it. I held the railing tight as I gently stepped down, one foot then the next. Safe. Then again, one foot then the next. I hovered over that third step, my heartbeat pumping in my ears blocked out all thought. I closed my eyes and put one foot down. It never touched the step. I fell. Not down the stairs but into open air. There was nothing. I felt my body tumble over once like doing a flip in a bouncy castle but never landing. I reached my arms out – there was nothing around me. I felt light and my body seemed to be floating downwards, a gentle rocking motion like a leaf falling from a tree, swaying side to side.

I opened my eyes. It was still dark. My ears popped and I swallowed automatically. I had no idea what was happening but I knew my mom was going to kill me when I got home. She kept telling me not to get out of bed at night. I was going to be in so much trouble.