Molly knew better than to have high expectations for her brother. He may have been an adult in the legal you’re-eighteen-now-so-go-register-for-the-draft sense but he still needed people to remind him about simple things. Like birthdays and apparently Christmas.
With her birthday falling only a week after his, Molly had been a little surprised that he hadn’t even remembered to get her a card, let alone a gift. She could remember making a pact in the sandbox one year. He might have been turning eleven, which meant she would have been turning eight.
“What’d you get me?” he’d asked.
“I’m not telling.” She focused on packing the damp sand into a bucket.
“You didn’t get me anything yet.” He started digging a trench around some green army men.
“I did too,” she said defensively. “Dad took me to the store last weekend.”
“Then what did you get me?”
“I’m not telling.” She flipped the bucket quickly upside down and lifted it off the brick that would be part of the foundation of a more elaborate structure.
“I’ll tell you what I got you,” he offered.
Molly considered his proposal as she eyed the block. The crack near one corner would threaten the integrity of the whole structure if she continued. She used the shovel to level what little she’d erected and started putting the sand back in the bucket, patting it into place with a firmer hand.
“Fine,” she said. “What’d you get me?”
“The next book in that series you’ve been reading.” He buried two army men in a simulated explosion. A third fell trying to dig his buddies out.
“I got you a few more packs of those trading cards.”
Years later, he’d promised her two gifts for Christmas to make up for missing her birthday and the thought excited her.
“This one’s from Devon,” her mom said as she handed it over.
It was a book that Molly had been dying to read but something wasn’t right. “I thought you said this was from Devon?”
“It is,” both Devon and their mom insisted.
“I was with you when you bought this, Mom. Remember? You used my store discount to buy it.”
“Oh, who cares who picked it out. It’s from him.”
Devon held an envelope out to Molly who took it reluctantly. “This is from me too.”
A whopping ten-dollar gift card to download music. “Gee,” Molly said. She was trying to sound sincere but it was coming out sarcastic. “Thanks Devon.”
“Don’t mention it,” he said, quickly turning his attention back to his own pile of loot where the case for the newest CD from his favorite band was already unwrapped and destickered with the disc loading to his computer.
“Don’t worry,” Molly said under her breath, tossing the book aside and sticking the gift card into her purse for later. “I won’t.”