Bigger and Stronger

“One day you’ll be bigger and stronger than him,” says my father as I struggle to squeeze my head out of my brother’s clenching grip. That’s what you always say, I think as I feel the blood circulating back into my brain. Austin, my brother, wrestles heavyweight, plays offensive line, and is a catcher and I’m certain the one day my father speaks of will not arrive.

So I glance at my father and ask “when?”

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He walks to the entrance of the pantry and studies the frame of the door. Searching through the scribbled names and lines, he stumbles upon Austin’s most recent mark. He points to it and calls me over. As I near, the name beside his finger reads “Austin-10/2011.” My brother is a 6’1”, 250 pound eleventh grader; I am a 5’10”, 160 pound ninth grader. My dad, three inches taller than Austin, provides hope of surpassing Austin’s height.

“But he’s way bigger than me,” I say. How on Earth am I going to be bigger than him?

But my dad says “You are still growing, you know?”

I nod my head and imagine the day occurring. After a pause in the action, Austin clutches my wrist and drags my squirming body to the living room, where he can work his prey. He shoots for my left ankle and with a slight lift, I plummet to the carpet. Without a lost second he jumps onto my fallen body and remains in control. Despite our father’s commands to release me, he contorts my body as if it’s a lifeless dummy. The pain escalates as I grimace and grunt disapprovingly of the unimaginable maneuvers my brother executed. I tap out. I am once again reassured that the one day is unlikely to happen.

The lost hope allows me time to analyze my dad’s phrase, “one day you’ll be bigger and stronger than him.” Being bigger is unattainable, so I’m left to be stronger. Stronger has two meanings: physical and mental. Austin’s clear physical dominance has forced me to become mentally tougher. Next time, I will not tap out. I will not surrender. I will succeed. I’ve finished one half of the puzzle and my upcoming years in Madison will allow me to finish the rest. After all, I am still growing.

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