Jinapher J. Hoffman – Somewhere Else, Anywhere Else

I reach up, stick my tongue out.
Momma sings to Little Brother in the nursery.
My toy is on the top shelf. I have to climb to get it.
Dad’s downstairs. He bellows out bad words. Baseball is on.
I brace myself on top of his dresser.
Momma stops singing.
Dad stops shouting.
The house is quiet enough that I have to wait.
The toy is glass.
Little Brother cries.
Momma sings some more.
I climb a little higher.
Dad cheers. His team must’ve scored.
I hear Big Brother shut the front door.
“How’s the game?” He shouts over the TV.
“Better than I’m sure yours went. Coach got you benching, still?” Dad pops something. Probably the top off of the bottles he doesn’t like me touching.
“Yeah, still benching.” Big Brother scoots a chair out from the kitchen table. I can tell by the sound it makes on the floor.
I stand on my tip toes. I’m so close. My toy is a watch, gold and hanging within a glass sphere. It’s a nice watch. I like it.
Little Brother’s door closes.
Momma’s footsteps make a clicking sound toward the kitchen. She must not have changed from church.
Dad and Big Brother roar at the same time.
My hands wrap around the glass.
I knock my knee against the bookcase.
It crashes.
I jump back in shock, my toy dropping from my hands and shattering on top of the bookcase. A piece of glass has cut my index finger.
Dad clomps toward the room.
I want to move, to hide, but I’m surrounded by my destruction site.
The bedroom door swings open. Dad, Momma, and Big Brother have come to my rescue.
Or, maybe they didn’t.
“Teresa, what did I say about keeping that boy’s grubby hands off my things,” Dad says.
Momma frowns. “That boy is your son.”
The argument starts. The same argument.
“I didn’t make him. He’s not mine. He should be locked up. Look at him! He’s ruined my trophy case and broken my watch. Do you know how much that cost?” Dad picks up the watch from where it lies in ruins. He shakes it.
It rattles.
I don’t think it’s supposed to make that noise.
“It’s just some damn trophies and an old watch, Joseph. He’s five. He doesn’t know better.” Momma grabs a broom from the hall closet.
“Maybe he would if you disciplined him. Marcus was never like this.” Dad looks over at Big Brother.
My finger hurts.
“When you married me, you accepted Hampton as your son too.” Momma has her hands on her hips. She must be mad. “Maybe if you treated him nicely like you do Marcus and Jacob, he wouldn’t have the need to rummage through things by himself.”
Dad is going through the wreckage, pulling out trophies still in good shape. “Marcus and Jacob are my sons.”
Little Brother starts to cry.
“Fine, then you can go put Jacob back to sleep,” Momma says.
Big Brother is looking at me.
I look at him back.
He comes over to me, still dirty from baseball, and picks me up under my armpits. “Come on, Hampton.”
I follow him outside to his car and he buckles me in. “Where are we going?”
Dad and Momma are shouting so loud.
“Somewhere else,” Big Brother says, “anywhere else.” He starts the car and puts on his seatbelt. “How about ice cream?”
I look at my cut finger. “Okay.”

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