by Kevin Phillips

Worsest of enemies me and my brother are. Him’s always trying to play with what I is playing with. Him don’t even finished his sweets before trying to snatch mine, and whines a long, loud moan when I don’t share.

Him’s always the one pulling my bedsheets off when we should be pretending to be sleepy, but it’s always me that’s shouted at for floor-thudding with feet when we should be asleep. Don’t be a tell-tale, Mum shouts when I say it’s my brother, not me.

Him pulls my skin with rough-nailed fingers, then cries till I’m in trouble for China-burn twisting him’s arm in return. When it’s my brother running and screaming, Mum always shouts that You twos had better stop that racket. Him’s getting my arms straight with fists-tight and tooth-grinding on every day; getting me breathing hot and fast angry. Don’t no one know that I is breaking my brother’s favourite toys when him’s in the loo doing a poo?

Eat all your dinner, Mum says, but him don’t have to. It was better when my brother was smaller, I could go play out of the garden and him couldn’t. But now him’s bigger it got worser because now Mum says, Take your brother and stay with him.

The other kids that play around in the square at the back of our houses kick a ball against the garage wall. I don’t mind going goalie, I know them try to kick the ball at me, but them’s not kicking straight. And them’s always pushing my brother away; it’s nice to have him pester someone else, and someone who can push him without getting Mum’s shouting-mouth.

Mum sometimes uses her not-shouting mouth to hanky-spit clean our faces and says, You pair are a pair of disgraces, when we’s been dirt-digging for worms and woodlouses.

My ball kicking is getting straighter, I is been practising kicking at the No Ball Games sign on the garage wall. My brother is getting straighter at running into the other kids with him’s tricycle, too. That’s when him got in trouble the first time. Him went clean crash-running into a girl sat playing dolls on the floor, and her mum come rushing out. She scared even us who wasn’t in trouble.

That’s when all the trouble started. Our mum shouted at her mum because our mum said my brother doesn’t know any difference because him’s too young. What our mum doesn’t know is that my brother does know any difference. From that day, the rest of summer me and my brother had to deal with nerring kids, every time we played in the square the kids would go, Ner-na-ner-na-ner-ner. Sometimes they throwed stones at us.

My brother would come and hide behind me from the Ners and the stones. I would feel all big and strong like our mum’s last not-our-dad man. That was when I started, not liking my brother, but liking being his brother. I started drinking shandy out of a straw because Peter Atkinson told me that was how to get drunk like men do. Peter Atkinson only started playing with me because the other kids nerred him, too. Me and Peter Atkinson would sit on our skateboards and speed-roll down the slope next to the square, paddle-flippering our hands to get more faster. My brother would come tricycle-crashing into us at the bottom.

Peter Atkinson always shouted at my brother for crashing us together, but when my brother hid behind me, Peter Atkinson would shut up. This crashing was mostly every time. We started at the top of the slope near the main road, and our skateboards growled on the tarmac path all the way down.

Then there was that day when I never saw Peter Atkinson again. Peter Atkinson was sick of my brother crashing us at the bottom, so Peter Atkinson let me go first, so my brother would follow. But my brother didn’t follow me, him waited for Peter Atkinson to go, so him could smash into us down the slope. When I was at the bottom, I looked back up, and Peter Atkinson had him’s skateboard up in the air, over him’s shoulder, like him was going to hit my brother with it. My brother couldn’t get passed Peter Atkinson to get down the slope to get behind me, so him ran the other way — onto the main road.

The bus hissed and rubber-tyre-screeched to a fast stop. I was running faster up the slope than I skateboarded down it. Please have got passed the bus, please have got passed the bus, please have got passed the bus, was all was in my head.

I never saw Peter Atkinson again after that day. Him and him’s family moved away real fast. I did saw my brother again after that day. I saw him at hospital. Him had a machine that beeped, and a machine that made him breathe like Darth Vader. Them was silent days and nights at our house. Them days got more silent after the last day I saw my brother, when him got put in a box, and the box got put in the dirt, when Mum said, You have to be growed up now.

Kevin Phillips is an emerging Leeds-based writer. He often writes with a minimalist, idiosyncratic, rhythmical prose that utilises damaged grammar and crumpled punctuation to mimic the way the common folk talk. But these rules are also often broken to insinuate death, loss, time passing by, or even just to give better rhythm acoustically as his work is primarily written with performance in mind. Kevin lands emotion-evoking, and thought-provoking stories in and around a thousand words.

Kevin can be seen at many of the open mic venues in and around Leeds. You can find him on Facebook Page of Danger author page and Twitter @pageofdanger. Check out his YouTube channel – Page of Danger – and hear him read his work.