[memory] What: Memory Will characters be viewing the memory or experiencing it?: Experiencing Warning, this memory contains: Nothing bad at all
Laughter echoes off walls where Victorian paper peels off in curls, and your feet slap against the parquet floors and join the chorus of mirth just up ahead.
The hall is long and poorly lit, and the burgundy runner beneath your feet is treacherous in places, but you're determined to capture the giggling boy that's always a few feet ahead of you. His legs are longer and it's not fair, but Mom says you'll be taller than him one day. Dad says you'll only be taller for a few years, but you're counting on those years. You're going to make the absolute best of those years during which you're the tallest-est, but for the present you lag behind.
You run past a new sidetable that's still wrapped in sticky plastic from when the delivery men came. You can just see over the top of the table, and you're momentarily distracted by your own height.
You're five years old, and you round the corner and realize the giggling you're chasing has stopped. You stop too, skidding to a halt on a squeak of pink rainboots. The hall's empty, and you turn in a circle. "Hey!" you call out in a small voice. There's no way he could get ahead of you that fast, and you screw your little nose up and suspect a con-spiral-see. "You cheater!" There's no proof of cheating, but you're sure your brother cheated.
You stomp your rainboots for good measure, and then you hear the laughter again. It's coming from behind you, and you turn so fast your long hair smacks you in the face, and the ends of brown taste like that morning's breakfast syrup a little bit. But Mom's there, and your brother is holding her hand, and you forget about being mad, but only because you were right! "I knew it! You cheater-ed!"
Mom is wearing a long white dress that drags past feet you know are bare, and her brown hair is long and thick, down beyond her waist. She's the most prettiest person in the whole wide world. Your brother is hiding behind her and just peering out, thick-bottle glasses making his wide eyes wider. "I would have won," you tell him, and then you roll your eyes (which you learned from your older sister), because you know he's over there being proud of himself. "Stop it," you tell him, but you're not really mad. You're good at looking mad, so you do that, you look mad, and then you're scooped up by strong arms and hoisted high into the air. It's your turn to laugh, and you do. You're not scared at all. You're not scared of anything. You know it's Dad, and he sits you on his shoulders and you muss his hair. It makes Dad laugh, and he walks over to Mom, with you on his shoulders, and he kisses her. You don't even think anything about it, because Dad and Mom are always kissing. Dad reaches down and ruffles your brother's hair, and you put your pink rainboot on your brother's head. Mom swats your foot away, and you stick your tongue out at your brother from your great height, and he sticks his out at you.
Then Dad puts you down, and you turn and run as fast as you can. You're headed straight for the room your brother has claimed as his indoor treehouse, and it's just payback for him cheater-ing with Mom's help.
Dad and Mom are still kissing in the hallway, and you can hear Mom's soft laughter as your feet slap against that same runner, and as you make it past the same sidetable from earlier. You make it to your brother's treehouse-room, and you slip inside and close the door. The lock clicks into place and you stand there and wait. You're happy! You won! Victor-tee!
Outside, your brother is banging his fists on the door and reminding you that girls aren't allowed, and you step away from the door and dance in a circle, singing loudly about all the things you're going to do in the room: "I'm touching your crayons!" and "A pencil!" and "I like this soldier! I think I'll name him Ted and he can come and be mine!" But you tire of it eventually, and you go and sit against the door, not ready to give up your stolen king-dumb yet. "Bring me five new buttons," you tell him imperiously, "and I'll let you in."
You hear his feet slap against the floor as he goes off to fulfill your wish, and you smile. You're happy, and you know the new set of footfalls outside belong to your older sister, which is confirmed when her voice comes from the other side of the floor. "He's not going to let you boss him around forever," she says, an older sister's fondness in her voice and your baby brother toddler-babbling loudly in her arms.
And you say, with all the certainty in the world: "Oh, yes he is."