Nestled between the etchings and bulges that made up my brothers arms, I had never felt safer. As a three year old I squirmed, a giggle rising into a playful shriek. Still a child himself, my brother groaned under my weight, but was capable of lifting me off the ground, his forearms digging into my stomach as they clung tight. He whirled me around in circles, starting leisurely and then gradually gaining speed. Until I saw blurred streaks and heard faint whistling in my ears. Until the world had slipped away, leaving behind just the two of us. I closed my eyes. Saw myself flying.
This was freedom. This was what I had taken for granted.
The carpet assembled beneath me and from then on the room slowly crept back together. A slither of naked oak between dusty hard-cover novels. An empty, black canvas adorned only by the glare of a beacon. Plush squares decorated scarred leather seats, failing to conceal where it bled cotton. It was all swimming before me like a huge wave of marathon runners all desperate to take the first place prize.
So quick. Too quick.
I plummeted down onto my knees, struggling to catch my breath.
My brother followed me down. Sprawled on the carpet, he joined into the chorus of panting. I saw his eyes flash as something unrecognisable crossed them. His lips bent, exhibiting a pair of dimples. His stomach lurched up and down as he gave a gentle bellow. Slowly, the recognition sunk in.
He was laughing.
Passed like a contagious disease, I began to feel it itch the back of my throat and pump the blood in my veins twice the speed of it’s usual rhythm. I exploded into uncontrollable chuckling. My stomach tightened into a fist-sized knot, but it didn’t bother me.
In that moment, nothing could.
My brother sat up, leaning over me with that smile still on full beam. Cheeks were stained with damp smudges and skin had turned a bright red. Hair fell in all directions, some strands even over his wide eyes, some pointed skywards in spikes. He offered one hand and, with the shortest hesitation, I took it. His long, spidery fingers almost slipped from mine because of all the sweat. He gave a brief grunt before my feet were firmly planted on the ground again.
“Again! Again!” I begged.
Complaining with the simplest sigh, he engulfed me in his embrace and I was once again flying.