The best thing about being a triplet is the confusion. Like the time I unraveled momma’s favorite afghan. All day I pulled that same purple string and while she saw me sitting there smiling, she never could tell which of us had been the one to take apart her beloved heirloom.
On our daily river break, we’d swap trunks to confuse our classmates.
Today, I wore the patterned suit meant for Thaab, and he wore Khaab’s orange suit. Khaab, being the eldest by three minutes, didn’t even bother with a suit but waded in with his jean shorts. We were all ready to cause some mischief.
“I dare you to climb that big oak, Thaab, and swing into the water.” It was a standard dare meant for my brother Thaab, but since I had on his patterned suit it was up to me to make the climb.
“Oh, and do it like a monkey,” Khaab laughed, toussling my hair. It was only a good dare if someone added to it.
Now my two brothers had climbed the mighty oak tree that slanted over the river many times, diving from its extended system of boughs with ease. And while dares were standard between the three of us, the well-known fact that I was afraid of heights made this one especially big.
The bark of the tree scratched my arms and torso, but I hugged even tighter to make the climb to the strongest branch that extended over the water like a partially drawn drawbridge. I’d seen the other boys walk out on this branch and leap in to the cool waters below, but I opted for a belly crawl.
“I don’t hear you screeching,” Khaab joked, and below I heard giggles, but I took my time and slithered along the bark.
I was fully prepared to roll off the log, even if it mean hitting the water below on my side. Even if it meant the other boys laughing for the rest of the day. But then came the burning, a wildfire of sensation that started on my torso and traveled upwards consuming my whole face.
In panic, I let go of the log and fell face first into the rushing water.
Emerging from the current, I let out a scream deeper than the howler monkeys.
“What is is, Jhaab?” Laughter left the group as I continued to claw at my eyes.
I splashed water up on my face but the fire raged deeper, and my brothers shoveled water onto my body afraid to come closer and more afraid to abandon me in the stream. Wood mites, too small to see, were busy burrowing deep into my eye sockets. It was too late to stop their determined digging.
Things are different now. My brothers tie a rope around me and take turns pulling me to school. And while I am learning to trust my touch and smell, I am frequently confused by shadows. We hardly ever issue dares anymore either, remembering how the last one cost me my sight.
This Flash Fiction was prepared for Fandango’s Flash Fiction Challenge #133. Join us in crafting some fun fiction.