Bequeath My Estate

Entry by: Briergate

8th December 2016
When I think about Chance now, I think about the boy inside. The occasional flashes of awesomeness which peppered my sibling relationship. The childish insults, the rivalry, the bravado and the rare elements of valour which sustained me in our relationship.

For example, there was this time when the girls at school were destroying me. Vicious, quiet and subtle, they were gnawing away at my confidence and self-esteem, maintaining a perpetual onslaught of discrete bullying and vitriol that left my quaking on the walk to my classroom every morning, and seared within from fear and self-hatred. Ugly. Swot. Ugly swot. Yes, yes I was all of that. I would hold my hands up, unable to defend myself from their reflected truth.

Sometimes, sometimes. Chance would intervene.
“Don’t you fucking DARE to speak about her like that,” he’d say, his super-quiet voice belying the look of rage within. Like a hunk of flint awaiting friction, he simmered and burned, and sometimes kindled on my behalf. The older girls would run away like rivulets of frost, thawed. You just didn’t mess with Chance. His anger, his charm and his erratic beauty made him untouchable. If I was lucky, sometimes, his aura of awesome; the halo of light he emitted, would touch me and keep me safe.

My God, though I wanted to be him. The number of times I instinctively responded to the title – ‘Chance’s little sister’. That was all I was. Nameless, other than by association. I still thrilled to be associated with him. Despite my gawky intellectual awfulness, I was still related to the favoured one. The beautiful one. The quietly vicious, cold, narcissistic one. My parents’ favourite. The son. The son.

When he reached adulthood, I had high hopes of our relationship improving. I imagined that with age, we would achieve some sort of truce. Instead, Chance just honed his insults and created more imaginative ways of upsetting me. Telling tales after setting me up.

I remember once, he put me up to stealing the plastic two pence pieces from the primary school maths kitty. He badgered and badgered at me until I succumbed, palming the coins and walking with him to the sweet vending machine outside the village shop, which dispensed brightly-coloured jawbreakers and bubble gum. He explained how I could slot the plastic coins in, turn the silver handle and get the sweets, for free.

He led me to it, and then encouraged me, and as soon as I had popped the first sweet into my mouth, he laughed triumphantly and ran to tell my parents. I remember standing in shame, the guilty tang of the jaw breaker staining my tongue, and the taste of betrayal tainting my heart with an even stronger flavour.

He called me ‘Tuppence’ from that moment on. Over the years, the moniker became an endearment of sorts, thrown around carelessly with affection, and adopted by our parents as the memory of my transgression dimmed.

Chance was never meant to live a long, boring, content life. He was destined to flair with sparks of energy shedding at every step. To savour every moment, every experience, until the constant barrage of sensation wore at his very core, eroding his resilience.

I walked a sedate path, in comparison. I skirted around the soggy roaches which he scattered, and my eyes glanced away from the razor blades, credit cards, powders and the needles. I averted my judgmental eyes as Chance danced through highs and lows, always pursuing the single thing which would offer ultimate gratification.

For my part, I rode the moral high ground like a placid donkey, navigating through the precarious pitfalls of adolescence with a dogged step and quiet good behaviour. Unnoticed, for the most part, I quietly attained a middle line of life, invisible to my parents as they sizzled and scorched in the trail of my elder brother’s self-destructive flame.

I loved him. I did. For all his sly viciousness, beneath the veneer of sparks he was mesmerising. A sense of valour and courage made him shine. I trusted him, despite his unpredictability. The way he’d get in touch now and again, only to look at me with those chestnut eyes, and hold his hand out for enough cash for the next fix. The way he’d goad me, still, with sharp and funny taunts.

“Come on, Tuppence – I only want a few quid to get me through.”
“Can’t you help your big bro out just the once, Tuppence?”
His smile could quirk my heart. Despite myself, I’d smile, and give in to his requests. He was as irresistible to me, as the drugs were to himself.

I loved him. I hated him. I loved him.

When the police came and knocked three times on my door, I understood immediately. Chance’s flame had finally flared too bright, and extinguished him. My parents, too bowed down with darkness in his absence couldn’t bring themselves to deal with the aftermath.

And so it was, I found myself sitting cross legged and crying on my kitchen floor, holding his meagre possessions and wondering what in all hell I was supposed to do with them. His works kit, the frayed leather belt he would pull tight around his arm. Cottons, lighter fluid, a blackened spoon. A tiny plastic baggy with residual brown powder which I picked up, and then flung from me as if the drug could seep into my skin and enslave me.

I raised one item after another, shedding tears over the pitiful souvenirs of his life. And then I laid them down before me, creating a bedraggled, sorry shrine to him. I folded his clothes, which were starched with filth, and on impulse checked the pockets. A coldness in the top pocket of his jacket made me pause. Blindly, my fingers felt the shape and size of it. I fumbled for a moment, the familiarity of it known, even before my eyes could verify what it was.

A two pence piece, worn to shine through rubbing. I dashed away my tears to clear my sight, and stared at the copper coin. Minted in the year of my birth, the coin sparkled as if new. Tuppence.

It was not much of an inheritance, it’s true. And yet I keep it with me still, as if it were invaluable. A treasure left behind, for the sister left behind. I can hear Chance’s mocking laughter sometimes, as I flip the coin across my knuckles, keeping its burnished shine alive.