Late afternoon sunlight filled the street casting a burnt yellow glow over the stillness. In the driveway my little brother, B, and I were working on an epic version of hopscotch, complete with B’s made up rules and a 30 box playing field. B drew out the boxes in varying sizes using mint green chalk. The jagged lines skipped from the smother, newer cement of the driveway closest to the garage and turned to rumpled scratches on the older, chipping part. When the board was drawn, we picked up pieces of loose cement to use as our throwing stones.
B tossed his chip out first. He hopped out to 13, tossed again and made it to 30 before turning around and jumping back. The sun felt warm on my face. I squinted into the light and threw out my flat chip. It bounced and stumbled onto 12. Carefully, I started out following the almost helter-skelter number order B had drawn.
“Mommy and Dad are getting divorced,” he said as I hopped onto 10.
“No they aren’t.”
We’d discussed the matter a few times previously, both right before and after Dad returned from active duty in Pearl Harbor.
“Yes, they are,” B insisted.
My chip landed on 28 this time.
“How do you know?”
B had a tendency to make things up. It was a gift he developed as early as three years old when he tried to convince me that he really was a pterodactyl zipped into a human suit with an invisible zipper.
“I heard them talking last night,” B said.
I stopped hopping and turned around to look at him. “What did they say?”
“I don’t know.”
I crossed my arms. “Then how do you know?”
“They said so.”
“You’re lying,” I informed him. “Stop lying.”
“I’m not!” B threw out his chip.
“Well, I’m asking Mom when she gets home,” I said. “You’re wrong.”
We kept playing, but what B said kept rolling around my head, crashing into the sides of my skull. Mommy and Dad are getting divorced. Divorced. Divorced. Divorced.
The sun was heading for its mountainous bed when Mom came biking up the street. She bumped over the curb and across the hopscotch game we’d abandoned a few minutes before. B looked at me, daring me to prove him wrong and we followed her into the house. Despite the lack of voiced conflict between our parents, the continual tension around them nagged at me. Maybe B was right? The pit in my stomach opened up, ready to swallow my words.
Mom was halfway up the stairs when the words tumbled out into the warm air. “Are you and Dad getting a divorce?”
She turned around to look at us standing by the front door with sunlight surrounding our faces.
“K, B…” she started.