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  • Writer's pictureDylan McCormack


I’m the sixth son of a seventh son. My brother has just breathed life into the world and already the fucker is doing miracles. In the hospital, my mother is surrounded by her five daughters and myself as she coddles the little potato faced gnome. The room is white and quiet, the setting sun slants through the windows onto my little brother. He doesn’t cry, a perfect child. Coming into this world you’d believe he was dropped off in a limo the amount of praise he got. Anyway, the miracle.

As we all crowded around mum, her face still pale and tired from the nights’ exhausting feats she handed the baby to my eldest sister. She herself had been trying for a child for years with her gamer boyfriend who seems to be attached to his couch. ‘He’s job hunting’, she told us when she arrived at the hospital which meant he was up all night playing Call of Duty harassing young Asian children that are killing his soldier avatar with ease. I could see her looking at the new child, my brother, and imagining holding her own. He’d probably be born with an Xbox controller in hand.

While they cooed and awed at the little shit, a nurse came in to check up on mum. She then told us that down the hall, a man was having an operation. Something to do with his heart. It wasn’t going good but, wouldn’t you know it, the second my little brother breathed fresh air the man’s breath steadied, his blood pressure normalized and he survived. On queue my sisters and my mum all gasped as if it was the most amazing thing in the world. To me it just sounded like luck. But, to them and everyone else, my brother was special and magical and all other things. He was the seventh son of a seventh son and he was going to be amazing. I stared at them all, fawning over him and thought to myself, “I’m still Here.”

Years go fast and years go slow. I led a pretty average life. Never strayed off the path that I was meant to follow. That’s the thing, no one says what the sixth son is meant to do. If the seventh son is meant to be special then what am I? I’m normal, that’s what I am. I went to school, studied hard and studied right. I made some friends. Played sports. I had a few girlfriend and married my last one. I went to college and did all the normal things. I studied engineering because that’s what my dad did before he died on a building site when a slab of cement squashed him like a melon. Realizing quickly that engineering was not my forte I quickly changed over to business studies. Graduated after four years of drinking and studying. Me and my last girlfriend decided to tie the knot and move in together. We bought a house in town and I started a job where I just fill up Excel sheets with figures and let the program do the rest. I make a decent amount of money every year. We’re planning on having children when we both have saved up enough from our jobs. My friends have all lived the same lives and we are all happy. Happy people. Happy, normal people.

So, I guess I should tell you what my younger brother has been doing with himself. That’s the interesting stuff, right? As expected, he has lived an amazing life. Even I can’t deny it. He flew through primary and secondary school and he decided to study architecture in Dublin. Obviously, he quickly made a name for himself. Do I really need to go into this? He has all the pretty girls on his arm. His friends were all the height of success. He could read any book, no matter whether it was some tough German philosophy tome or a copy of advance physics and could easily understand it. I couldn’t tell you how much he made after he had left college. He was on the cover of magazines. I didn’t even realise they put architects on the cover of magazines. He got himself a job designing skyscrapers in New York. But, that’s not all. My brother has gifts. Shocking, right? When he was being baptised. All of my sisters crowded around him. My mother holding him like a prized football. The priest, his eyes closed and reciting his hymn. I’m standing off to the side where I feel I am destined to be forever. Suddenly, the hymn became a groan and the priest leant over and grasped the bannister nearby. I remember thinking the old lad was going to keel over right in front of us and how I never saw my father’s corpse. My mother, carrying my brother, dashed over to the struggling priest to check whether he was okay. As she knelt down, my brother’s little hand reached out and grabbed the priest’s finger. They both locked eyes, this elderly man and this newly born miracle. Both ends of life. And, whatever happened, the priest stood up and finished the baptism, declaring this child, ‘the second coming.’ I very much doubt he read the Yeats poem.

So, my brother is magical healer, a world famous architect and a mega rich party boy, if the tabloids are to be believed. He’s what they call, the shit. My brother is magical and doesn’t get hangovers.

I’m not a jealous person. I know that everything previous is hinting, or downright shouting, that prospect but I’m not. No sir. I’m a frustrated person, there’s a difference. People hear seventh son and think, ‘oh wow, did you know Michael Collins was a seventh son of a seventh son and he did great things.’ They think that a seventh son is meant to do something. Be someone.

I’m fully invested my lot in life is just to be related to my brother. A footnote. An almost. I’m fine with it. Really.

I notice myself buying all the magazines that mention his name. I pour over the interviews, the stories, the gossip. I can feel my wife’s eyes watching me from across our kitchen table. A cup of coffee steaming in her hands as she takes a sip of the too hot drink that I make for her every morning. Her eyes, gleaming with pity and sadness over the rim of the cup. The silent house around us. I tell myself that one day I’ll get over it. Over him and all his accomplishments. But, there I am again, in the newsagents waiting for him to be on the cover of Time Magazine.

My sisters are all proud of his achievements. They brag to their co-workers how they are related to the famous architect. I doubt they brag about their brother who works in an office job. But, then again, I don’t really brag about them either, but I do mention how my brother was on the cover of Time magazine that one time.

Summer. The sky and sun was so perfect you couldn’t imagine how anyone could die. Who could die in a world this perfect and beautiful? Anyway, it was our mother’s funeral and we were all miserable.

She had passed due to stage five skin cancer. I couldn’t help but think how stupid it was that my brother miracle healing powers that he used on that priest so long ago wouldn’t extend to his mother’s dying body.

Watching her go I felt a deep welling sadness build in my chest. Like a rock being dropped down my throat. We were all surrounding her. My second eldest sister was holding her hand. Out in the corridor and the kitchen all the others were. Waiting to be told she had breathed her last. In the room with her was all her children. Except one. He was taking a flight from New York to Shannon and then driving out to the house. By the time she passed he was probably still on the motorway. Her last words were asking where her youngest was. Maybe she was thinking the same as me. He could help. He had the gift. Well, the gift doesn’t really help with plane delays.

When her breathing stopped I left the room to find my wife. I didn’t cry even though I felt I should. I nodded to my uncle who waited outside the bedroom hoping that this one movement would express to him my feeling. He nodded back.

My wife and I were going through a tough time then. We had been trying for years and nothing. We found out that it was my fault. I remember us both in the office with the doctor, nodding along to his diagnosis. ‘Slow swimmers.’ That’s what he called them. It would almost be funny if it wasn’t so sad. Queue the quiet drive home and the long silence. Was it bad that I was hoping my mother’s death would bring us closer together?

Just as I was walking through the house, thanking people for their warm wishes, I heard a car pull up to the gravel drive way. Instantly I knew who it was.

In a flashy BMW with his big sunglasses on sat my younger brother. The wonderkid. He parked up beside my little Golf and, like a dancer, gracefully exited the vehicle. He’s a handsome fucker I must admit. Even grieving he gave off the air of someone born to be beautiful and successful. He noticed me quickly and hugged me without taking off his sunglasses. He asked me where she was. I shook my head in the direction of the house. Where the Hell did he think she’d be?

I could hear his moans and wails from outside. His crying was expertly choreographed. No one could hear his cries and think they were anything but sincere. I took my packet of cigarettes out of my back pocket, lit one up and breathed in the sweet, killing air. I thought about my wife sleeping with my brother. I thought about his magic touch.

It was the end of the evening and people had started to leave. My brother had spent the day regaling everyone with his stories abroad and all the building he would be designing the coming years. All the famous people he had met. All the parties. All the life. Again, I never knew architects could get so famous. My sisters sat around him, staring slack jawed at their wonderful sibling. My eldest sister’s husband was out in the garden playing with their two little boys. I could hear them screaming and laughing in the setting sun. Death doesn’t mean anything when you’re that young. I couldn’t help but focus on my brother’s perfect teeth.

‘What’s this about the woman your seeing?’ I asked from the back of the room. Everything stopped. We had all read the article in The Times. My brother was attached with some seventeen year old rising model. Him being thirty didn’t seem to bother the Americans but I knew well that it would bother the good Catholic folk here.

My brother smiled at me. His best, toothy, Tom Cruise smile. He said to us it was all just rumours. Everyone let out a sigh of relief and went back to listening intently to his stories.

My wife was still nowhere to be found. A cousin told me they saw her leaving to go on a walk out to the fields. I thought about what she was thinking. Was she thinking about what I was thinking? What was I even thinking about?

My brother kept rambling. Annoyed, I left and went outside for a bit of fresh air. So, I lit another cigarette. I hated them all.

Twenty minutes later, I could smell his cologne through the smoke. He had come outside to join me.

‘Mind if I…?’ he said as he already reached his hand out towards my pack. The bastard. I let him have one.

He nodded a ‘thank you’ and started to smoke. He looked like a young Marlon Brando.

We stood in silence for a few minutes. The sun was setting before us, washing the sky in bright orange and light purple. It was as close to a Van Gogh painting as I would ever be.

‘Beautiful.’ He whispered beside me. I nodded.

Another silence followed. I didn’t look at him. I didn’t know what to say. Sorry mum is dead? She was my mum too and he hadn’t said anything to me about her. So, we stood in silence staring at the end of the day.

Suddenly, I noticed tears building in the corner of his beautiful blue eyes. I noticed that he was breathing in the cigarette deeper and deeper, holding the smoke for longer and longer. He saw me looking and started to cry. Big, ugly sobs wracked his beautiful face and strapping shoulders.

I reached out and asked him stupidly what was wrong. In between sobs all he said was, ‘She’s pregnant.’ And, ‘The bitch is pregnant.’ And, ‘I’m ruined. I’m fucking ruined.’

I had a picture of the model from the article in my head. This young person catching the magic touch of my brother.

An image of me and my wife trying for so long entered my head. A feeling of rage and disappointment. I wanted to hit him. I wanted to berate him for his selfishness and luck. I wanted to kill him.

But, I just stared at him. This six foot tall, strapping man. The image of success and excess. The embodiment of capitalism crouched on the ground, crying because he knocked up some young model and was about to bring a new life into the world. Crying because it was an inconvenience to his beautiful world.

I felt like reaching out to him but decided against it. He had enough people in the house to comfort him. I turned and stubbed my cigarette on the ground. Walking out to the fields, I went to clear my head. Further and further. It must have rained recently as the grass was wet and I could feel my socks getting damp.

The house drifted off behind me as I walked. I didn’t know how I felt. Stopping, I turned to look behind me but all I could see was the green and the blue. A wind blew the sound of lambs bleating in the distance. Turning again I saw a figure in the distance, the grass shook with anticipation. Watching her figure get smaller and smaller towards the setting sun, I followed.

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