BROTHERLY LOVE

By Adele Turner

Bye, Devin. Have fun."

The memory of that small figure standing in the tunnel waving stoically as his older brother and friends went Above to play in the new-fallen snow in the Park completely ruined Devin's outing. He hadn't missed the quivering lower lip, or the forlorn look on the kittenish face, either.

"I know Fuzz wants to play in the snow, but he just can't. Father would kill me if I took Vincent Above, and it is too dangerous." As the boys threw snowballs and ran through the park kicking up snow showers, Devin's thoughts were with his brother.

"There must be some way Vincent can come Above to play in the snow." As he stomped through the drifts, Devin kicked at a still-exposed root under a tree. As he did, a flash of color caught his eye. Bending, he picked it up and shook the snow off it. "Hmmm. This might just work.

That night, after everyone else was in bed and asleep, Devin showed Vincent his find. "It's perfect, Squirt. You can wear this and I'll take you up top tonight. I know it's not the same thing as the sun shining on the snow in the daylight, but the moon is full tonight and the moonlight shining on the snow looks really good too."

Turning the colorful woolen hat over in his hands, Vincent's voice was doubtful. "I don't know, Devin. Father would be awfully mad if he found out you took me Above.

"But he isn't going to find out. We'll play in the snow and then come back and go to sleep. He'll never know. At Vincent's silence, Devin grumbled, "Hey, I thought you wanted to see the snow. Are you coming or aren't you?"

Raising his head, Vincent met his brother's eyes. His chin stiffened defiantly. "I'm coming."

The boys scrambled off the bed and quickly dressed. "It's cold up there, kid. Dress real warm."

"I know," Vincent said impatiently as he pulled on his boots and grabbed his coat - an old grey woolen pea coat that Mary had cut down to fit his small frame. It still almost reached the floor.

Sticking his head cautiously out of their chamber, Devin quickly scanned the tunnel. "The coast is clear, let's go."

Silently the boys made their way down the tunnel and along the dimly lit passageways, carefully avoiding the sentries. When they reached the gate marking the boundary between their world and the park, Devin activated the mechanism. The door slid open and they stepped out. Devin carefully closed the door and shut the gate behind them. "Come on."

They quickly reached the drainage opening, and Devin scanned the surrounding area. "There's no one around. Here, put it on."

Vincent fumbled with the woolen ski mask and pulled it over his unruly hair. Devin helped him pull it own. It completely covered his head and face, leaving only his eyes visible.

Then they stepped out into the snow. Vincent looked around at the snow-covered park. The moon shone brightly through the cold night air, giving an almost daylight glow to the scene.

"Oh, Devin. It'th beautiful." Vincent's lisp was pronounced, as it always was when he was excited. Laughing, the two boys ran through the snow. For an hour they stomped through the drifts, made snow angels, and threw snowballs at each other. Finally Devin said, "We'd better get back in case someone does a bed check."

Vincent nodded and they headed back to the drainage tunnel. Before reentering their dark world, Vincent took a last look around and inhaled a deep breath of the cold clean air.

The pair made their way back to their chamber as silently as they had left. When they were safely back, they quickly undressed and got into bed, both of them shivering in the cold tunnel air.

"It's weird," Devin grumbled, "it feels colder in here than it did out in the snow."

Quietly Vincent answered, "It was fun, wasn't it? And Father didn't catch us either. Thanks, Devin."

They smiled at each other and drifted off to sleep. A little while later, Father quietly entered the chamber and surveyed the sleeping boys. He lovingly smoothed Vincent's hair and lightly kissed him, then touched the top of Devin's head. Smiling, he looked around the chamber, taking in the sodden clothes strewn around the room, and as he turned to leave he picked up the wet ski mask from the floor and carefully placed it on the table next to Vincent's pillow.


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