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The Murderous Big Sister

More COVID Culture: My siblings and I have been doing weekly Zoom calls (by law we are required to live at least 1,000 kms apart) and we've been recounting memories and lore from our shared childhoods. Many of the stories seem to be accounts of my apparently many near-death experiences, so of course I blame my sisters and brother because they were all older than me and should have been looking out for me, or at least not trying to kill me all the time.

For some reason, this discussion inspired my sister Jane (who is a formidable writer herself which you can discover at And she wrote the following confession. The text in brackets at the end describe what really happened:

The Murderous Big Sister . . .

She had always wanted to kill her little brother. She'd tried several times during the first years of his life. She'd dropped a can of Campbell's tomato soup on his head when he was just a few weeks old, but it barely raised a bruise. She pushed him down the basement stairs when he was two but all he did was blubber and whine and slobber all over his striped t-shirt. The bumbling toddler had staying power. She tied a long boot lace around his neck when their mother had insisted she take him with her to play outside, but no matter how hard she yanked, he only cried. His breathing wasn't cut off at all. Once she told him that the big tube of white oil paint that was left on the shelf near their father's art easel was actually marshmallow cream and a delicious treat. That was the nearest Jane came to bumping off Hugh. He gobbled up several squeezes of the goopy stuff before he realized it tasted horrible. He was a very sick little boy for days and managed to secure all his mother's attention, not just the usual lion's share that was his on normal days.

(for your information: John dropped a can of soup on my head when I was a very young baby; I tied the shoelace around your wrist; I had nothing to do with your ingestion of oil paint; I wasn't really that jealous of the attention Mom paid you – she couldn't help herself since you were such a cute little boy. We all liked you, you know.)

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