made up for things this world lacked
Title from Erin Hanson’s poem beginning “She told me that the ocean/Had been calling her name”
….Yeah, it’s totally just a reference to cryptids. The title, not the poem.
You narrow your eyes. He narrows his back, scowling darkly.
Well, as darkly as an eight-year-old can, at least. On him, this scrawny and impossibly small kid, it kind of looks like an angry kitten.
(You have to try really, really hard not to laugh. It’s pretty adorable, in an abstract sense.)
You sigh. “Keith, we have to head back to the house now. It’ll be dinner soon, and Mom won’t be happy if we’re late.
Keith juts out his chin, and forces his chin into the air.
(You love your brother. You really, really do. You just have to remind yourself of that, sometimes.)
You try pleading with him.
“Come on, she made that weird Jello thing you like for dessert.”
You see him waver for a moment, open up just the tiniest bit—but then he shuts up faster than those shrinking ferns, and it seems like he’ll stay there the whole night if you let him.
(It’s just a park. You can take him back the next day, if he really likes it so much. Why’s he being so stubborn about it now? It’s Friday. You had a stupidly long week at school, with essays and exams, and even after all that you still took your ungrateful little brother to the park, and now all you want to do is go home, eat dinner, and sleep for fourteen straight hours. Why is Keith being so stubborn.)
You sigh, rubbing out the crease between your eyebrows with your fingers.
“Whatever, Keith. I’m going home. If you really wanna stay here overnight, then go ahead.” You turn and start walking down the street. A couple of steps later, when Keith hasn’t moved to follow, you pause for a moment, squishing down the intense desire to grin. You shoot over your shoulder, “Just remember that if you see a chupacabra, climb high. Fast. Good luck!”
You start to whistle, hands in your pockets as you stroll out of the carefully-maintained city park and start down the long road back home.
(If this doesn’t work, Mom is gonna be so pissed at you, but there’s an eighty-five percent chance of success. After all, you really aren’t sure what made Keith so stubborn about not leaving the park this evening.)
There’s nothing to worry about, in the end—hardly five yards down the sidewalk and Keith comes barreling into you.
“You’re not supposed to just leave me alone! Shi-ro. Stop ignoring me.”
There’s a tug on your sleeve. To be honest, it startles you, just a little bit. Keith doesn’t usually reach out like that. You look over, and he’s got his hands buried in his pockets, but his attempts at nonchalance are ruined by his bright red ears. You nudge his shoulder.
(Sometimes, you’d like to find whoever scared this kid into keeping to himself all the time and just. Well, you don’t know exactly what you’d do, but you have an idea, and the fact that you could see yourself doing that scares you, a little bit. You try not to think about it too much.)
He scowls up at you, but it quickly fades into a more uncertain expression.
“Um, Shiro, what you said earlier, about a…chupacabra? …what was that about?”
He didn’t know what a chupacabra was. Excellent.
You raise your eyebrows as high as they can go, and look at Keith out of the very corner of your eye for a moment, but that hurts, so you grab him and swing him up onto your shoulders and continue walking. There’s a moment of flailing, but Keith figures out how to balance using your head, and you keep a firm hold on his legs.
You clear your throat.
“It was early spring, 1995, when one morning, eight sheep—ow!” Keith, from his elevated perch, had pulled your hair. Roughly.
“I don’t want the history, I can look that up myself. What’s a cupawhatsit?”
(You love your brother. You really, really do. Even when he’s a little shit.)
“A chupacabra is an animal, about the same size as Mom but three times as heavy, with sharp teeth and a row of spines up its back. It attacks and drinks the blood of smaller livestock, but I wouldn’t be surprised if one of them decided you’d be pretty tasty.” You waggle your eyebrows. “You’re about the right size, you know.”
(Maybe you’re laying it on a little thick. But if it means Keith stays inside at night, where he’s supposed to be? Totally worth it.)
Keith’s hands tighten in your hair, and you wonder if maybe it was a little too thick.
His voice is small.
Suddenly guilty, you bounce him a few times.
“I wouldn’t worry about it, though. There haven’t been any reports of attacks on groups of humans, so as long as you stick with me, we’ll be fine.”
(If you just gave him nightmares, you will accept full responsibility with your parents. You fully expect him to come knocking on your door tonight.)
(But when you finally wake up the next morning and Keith looks like he hasn’t slept all night but Shiro did you know that a chupacabra is technically classified as a cryptid along with Bigfoot and the Mogollon Monster and did you know that in West Virginia there’s a cryptid called Mothman? I watched this really cool documentary on it last night and I think there’s a lot of solid evidence to support his existence and you look up at your mother, who has her eyebrows raised as if to indicate this is your fault, Takashi, so you get to listen to it all, but is clearly amused by it all…well, it could have been worse.)
(Honestly, there’s something satisfying about seeing Keith smile and be so animated about something he likes. It’s new, but…it’s a good thing, you think.)
(At least, until he starts talking about alien conspiracy theories. That’s just ridiculous. Aliens. As if.)