The Brother From Another Mother

His name was Kevin, and I last saw him two years ago, at his eighth birthday party. It was a warm summer day, so we were outside in the garden. Kevin was running around with his friends, and my father was stood near the house with his second wife, a younger, thinner version of my mother, and the parents of all the other children.

I felt hopelessly out of place, and not just because I was the only one there who was neither a child nor a parent. I was fifteen when my father left home, and I had managed to remain bitter throughout the rest of my teens. Now, in my twenties, I had managed, if not to forgive, then to accept the situation. After all, everyone else had moved on, so why shouldn’t I? Things had never really cleared between us, though. No matter how much my father tried to make up for those lost years there was still a distance between us. The party was another example of this. My father had invited me along in the hopes that spending time with his new family might somehow make me part of it. The whole thing was awkward and embarrassing. I was just trying to think up an excuse to leave when a child’s swing slammed forcefully into my nuts.

I hunched over, letting out a sudden “gaah!” and looked up to see Kevin jumping up and down, giggling manically. Some of the parents were looking over. I heard my father shout, “Kevin! Leave your brother alone!” before turning his attention back to whatever conversation he had previously been engaged in.

I straightened up. There was a table near the house with drinks- beer and wine for the adults and fizzy crap for the kids. I decided to have another beer (maybe two) before I left, and walked over.

There wasn’t much of a selection. A few cans of Fosters, and a third of a bottle of supermarket own brand white wine. I picked up a can, opened it, and was just raising it to my lips when Kevin punched me in the nuts again.

This time, being too far away from the swing, he had used his fists. I let out another “gaah!” and crushed the beer can in my hand, sending a small torrent of cheap lager down the front of my shirt. My father, seemingly more annoyed at having his conversation interrupted, tossed out a stern yell of “Kevin!” before once again turning back to his conversation. I looked over at Kevin. He was on the other side of the garden, grinning at me. I picked up the wine bottle and finished it off in one go.

Looking back on it, it seems kind of funny. To me anyway. A child goes around punching an adult in the nuts and all he gets is a minor telling off from his parents. If the adult retaliates, however… well that’s another story.

I haven’t heard from my father since then. Not even a birthday card. It’s actually more of a relief than anything else. Those family get-togethers always felt like an unpleasant chore. And when I look back on the last time he spoke to me, his eyes filled with anger and confusion, his other son curled up in a ball behind him, it never fails to make me laugh.

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