There lingers in my mind like a drop on the edge of a flower petal one memory of my older brother as a child. It all comes in flashes of a true story that he once told me and that I then made my own to tell. He is nine years old; his eyes are quick, his face padded with baby fat, one front tooth missing. He stands in the old toy shop in Eau Claire Market, now bulldozed into something else following last year’s renovations. Full of childish altruism and empty on funds, he holds the snow globe, turning it over in his hands, imagining, smiling, deciding. It takes a couple of fivers from Mum and the scratched loonie Yuri digs out of his jeans pocket, but he walks out with not his prize but mine.
I unwrap it beside the Christmas tree two months later. My brother sets down his steaming hot chocolate in front of the living room fireplace and sits beside me in a pile of dead pine needles. He sucks on his candy cane, the red stripes half-gone, and taps on the glass globe with his sticky fingers.
“Look,” he says.
I smile slowly.
“It’s us,” I say, my brother’s excitement becoming my own.
He doesn’t correct me but simply watches as I turn the snow globe over in my hands, marveling at the two boys dressed in red and white, bent over their hockey sticks on a frozen pond, with tiny nets at each end.
It wasn’t Yuri and I, of course. But my five-year-old imagination believed as such. I was young enough still that my beliefs made my reality: I believed those figures were my brother and I, and so they were. I believed the snow globe would be mine forever, and so it would be. That’s what I told my brother that morning. He smiled and ruffled my hair with his sticky fingers, because he was young, too, and neither of us knew the snow globe would not always be mine: I would return it to Yuri twelve years later, not with youthful kindness but a tired heartache, not with sticky fingers but shaking hands, when he died.