Newton’s Third Law of Motion
Actioni contrariam semper et æqualem esse reactionem: sive corporum duorum actiones in se mutuo semper esse æquales et in partes contrarias dirigi.
To every action there is always an equal and opposite reaction:
or the forces of two bodies on each other are always equal and are directed in opposite directions.
He regarded his sleeping younger brother with a rancorous air, frowning and resisting the urge to show him a finger, just like dad did to the referees on television.
The car rumbled on, small bumps in the road causing them both to jostle. His brother had squirmed in his seat, messing with his belt and using his jacket as a pillow, and his head had rolled to one side and was now gently bumped against the door.
Wouldn’t it be something if a huge bug landed on his stretched neck, biting him until his head was just one big bump? Mom would soak his whole ugly head in a bucket of that pink lotion. Or maybe dad’ll hit a big bump and give him a concussion, and he’s already asleep… and you’re not supposed to be asleep when you got one of those. Maybe he’d be gone forever then. Good.
He wouldn’t hate him so much if only the little jerk hadn’t stolen his favorite Matchbox car. It was the red one, with doors that really opened. He got it for his ninth birthday and he loved it. But he forgot to put it away before bed and his brother had come along that morning and found it. Down the stairs the jerk had come for breakfast, making vrooming noises and running the plastic wheels down the banister. He’d immediately snatched it back, and that resulted in a tattletale's high-pitched caterwaul. Their mother, vexed, took his car and stuffed it back into his brother’s hands. Jamie! Stop tormenting Bobby! Let him play with the damn car. I don’t have time for this!
He glanced at the front seats, at his parents heads. They were looking forward. The tone of their voices told him that they were intent on their adult discussion. A smile crossed his face, one that would make the cartoon Grinch proud, and he slowly raised his arm, coiling back and calculating just how much force was necessary to cross the distance between them to land a stinging attack on the jerk’s exposed ear.
It happened suddenly. At first he thought he had grossly miscalculated or that the road had given dad a really big bump to navigate. He felt himself forced towards his brother. He saw his brother’s small form, already leaning against the door, appear to flatten into it, his neck strained unnaturally from the forces at work on them, his head bouncing around in flow to the impact. Neither would remember the sound of impact until later, when it was dark and no other sounds could block its emergence from deepest memory.
There was a series of tumbles, crunch, crunch, crunch, and crystals sparkled in all directions. It was like in an adventure movie, the kind his parents wouldn’t let him watch because of the content, but it was just like that. Legos, a drink cup, the plastic whistle he thought he’d lost; treasures the car had stolen from them were now tumbling around the interior.
We’re in a big clothes dryer, he thought, and then he closed his eyes because the world was so hard to look at. He found himself falling up, or rather he found that he was still belted into his seat but that the car was upside down. The engine ticked softly and his mother began to sob.
“Jamie?” His father’s voice was hoarse. “Jamie boy, you okay?”
“Yes, Daddy” he said. He glanced over at his brother. The rest of the world froze. He felt his own breath come in ragged gasps, his body beginning to shudder despite the restraints. I take it back, his mind screamed, please God, I take it all back amen. I don’t wish he was gone forever.
His father called to Bobby, and Bobby said nothing. He hung from the seat from his loosened seat belts, a beanie baby with trickling blood replacing plastic beads. His father’s voice called again, fear unfettered, and then his mother began to struggle against her own restrains.
But it wasn’t either parent that Bobby called for when his eyes fluttered opened. His mouth formed into a big O, and he glanced sideways at Jamie. It was his name that Bobby at first whispered. The whisper became a croak, and the croak a wail; a big, beautiful caterwaul that put his previous noise that morning to shame.
Hearts filled with relief and love, the brothers reached out an arm to each other. Tattling and retaliatory attacks on ears were forgotten as they hung in space. His little brother pressed something warm into his hand and he knew by feel what it was.
“I’m sorry I took your car,” was all the younger could say.
It didn’t matter. He’d forgiven him. He’d forgive him a million times even if he stole it a million times.
This week’s Sunday Scribbling is “Action”. I thought perhaps I would take this in the direction of two warring brothers hitting each other in stages of escalating violence until parental intervention but then I thought of Newton’s law if applied to the heart.
The elder brother resented his sibling, hating him in childish fashion until an event occurs that causes him to emotionally spiral in the opposite direction. The ferocity of his hatred is replaced with an equal ferocity of love.
I also felt an action piece would be a good use of topic.
As to what caused the accident: I imagined it to be caused by a careless, texting-while-driving person. I thought I would drive the point home by causing the younger brother to die, ending the piece with “But I was only texting…” but I just don’t have the heart for it today.