Memories of when you (my brother) were 6 and I was 8
by Caitlin Farrugia

You remember that time? When Dad left. He’d hit Mum but she was cool. She wasn’t cool but she was cool, you know what I’m saying.

It was summer and we hadn’t seen Dad in two years. I don’t remember that time really. It is as though someone has placed a big inky stamp blinding me. The only thing I remember is that you tried to be the man of the house and wore Dad’s tie to dinner. Not sure why he owned a tie. I definitely never saw him wear it. I suppose that is a reflection of how many weddings and funerals we went to. When he did come back, it was a day before my eighth birthday. He bought me bright pink pyjamas that were a blend of nylon and silk. I hated the way that fabric felt on my skin especially during sleep because I was prone to pretty bad night sweats. He didn’t know that. I said thank you anyway. He’d pierced both ears and was wearing fisherman pants since the last time we saw him. I felt strange for Mum. We weren’t allowed to watch Big Brother, probably because of the turkey slap incident but I haven’t worked out what turkey slap means yet. All I know is that the meat is similar to chicken that I don’t really eat since my pet chicken died in my arms. Anyway, Dad put Big Brother on. I can’t remember that contestant’s name but he had pretty big muscles on his arm and stomach so Dad took his shirt off whilst watching. I think he wanted Mum to think he was just as hot. I didn’t know the word for it then but now I just think of three syllables: pa-the-tic. I’m sure Mum thought so too at the time. She was very smart. It was a hot afternoon moving into an evening. Our house was built on stilts and we watched the perfect circular orange sun fade behind the green and blue treetops. I think Dad went home, wherever that was.

Hey, remember that time we put the trampoline in the dam? It was fun as. The water was really brown. It reminded me of the chocolate river in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. You wouldn’t have a visual of that because that scene in the movie scared you and you hid in the corridor. Or was that the Wizard of Oz? We put the trampoline in the dam and jumped off. Two dirty and muddy-watered stinking bodies running around all afternoon.

Dad once told me that I was his favourite. It was really awful actually. All I could do was think of you and how that would have made you feel as his son. You should have been the favourite because you are clever and funny and friendly and can abseil down the second story of the house without Mum noticing. Besides, your smile is so golden it sets other people’s hearts on fire. Dad told me about that favourite child thing when we were sitting in the back paddock. My pony was chewing the dried grass. I was wearing those Converses with the stars; they were navy.

I felt bad for Dad that time he was in hospital on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day or Boxing Day. Those three days all bleed into one. Notoriously, that time of year is pretty cursed for us, hey? No one would tell us what had happened. But someone must’ve because we knew Dad tried to throw himself in front of a car. The only memory I have of that is waiting in hospital and Dad’s face was that kind of hot feeling you get when crying. And he said he loved me. That was so unusual seeing as last time I spoke to him he told me to fuck off and dumped us in the supermarket car park and drove off. At the hospital Mum was sitting next to her ex-sister-in-law and her new boyfriend with the beard and the dark cloudy eyes. I felt bad for her too but that’s another story.

Dad came to my end of year concert and I really liked that. His new girlfriend was there too. That was a sign that she was going to hang around. I wanted her to because she was nice and liked horses. Though she shouldn’t have stayed around because she just became Mum in a different body.

We had to keep the pregnancy of our half-sister a secret for some reason, I have no idea why. All I know is I had only one kind of-friend who didn’t care anyway. Yeah I told her, but I was excited. When our sister was born she was beautiful and quiet. I guess those two words are what older people want girls to be for some reason but what I mean is she was beautiful in the sense of changing the world and she was quiet in a wise kind of way. When I saw her smooth skin, baldhead, and fat wrists, I was shocked that Dad had made this gem. Then again, Dad made you and you're great.

You probably have all these memories sliding around in your head too. They're probably from a different perspective: as in, you were standing on the other side of the room to me when Dad hit Mum. But, as well, as in you probably feel differently about these things based on your individual emotions and stuff. We had a lot of strange neighbours too. That one who pushed you into the electric fence, I never asked you how you felt about that. You seemed really embarrassed and sore, I’m sorry. Now that I’m ten, double digits, I can ask you about all this stuff that happened to us. In regards to that neighbour, my only hope is that the fence gave you some kind of superpower whereby you can shoot electric beams from your palms. That would be so cool. You could shoot her head right off for what she did to you. Since you were 6 and I was 8, there have been so many lightning storms we watched from our bedroom upstairs. They were incredible: electric; blue. I liked that, I reckon you did too because you’d smile and keep watching them even after I was too tired. Anyway, I love ya heaps. I love ya heaps even though you accidentally hit me in the eye with the metal part of a dog lead the eve of school photo day.

Caitlin Farrugia is a writer, producer and teacher from Melbourne. Her pieces reflect ideas of human connection, feminism and child wellbeing. You can follow her at or @ohuniverse