A young boy was enjoying his dollhouse. It was always fun to play there. And safe. A safe and fun place to play, where the people didn’t judge or worry. It was just what Fear wanted. A safe place.
From the corner of the room, the boy’s twin watched on. They wore the same clothes, grey school uniforms. Their hair was blond. Eyes silver. Skin olive. Or maybe black? White? It was impossible to place that part. The twin was watching his brother play with the doll house, and every change of character, every speaking figure made the twin angrier. “Stop it! They aren’t real!”
Doll in his hand, the boy began to tear up at the harsh words. “Their real to me,” he insisted.
“No they aren’t!”
“Yes they are!”
“Just let me play,” pleaded the first boy.
The second hopped off his chair and kicked the dollhouse, sending dolls and wooden food and little beds flying. “It’s not real!” shouted the boy.
The first boy wept with such power,, he could hear nothing else. “I. Wuh-was juh-just puh-playing,” he sobbed.
“Grow up!” shouted the angry twin.
“Boys!” came a voice from downstairs. They quieted. Mother was scary. They were afraid of mother when she got mad. “Play nice!” she shouted, and then she was silent.
“I’m sorry,” grunted the angry twin.
“It’s okay,” said the sad little boy.
They began to put the pieces back together of the little house, arranging mother and child back together, putting plastic food back into the kitchen. It was a while before they spoke or did anything else. Finally, the angry boy began to pout again and stalked back to his chair.
The sad little boy didn’t dare touch his doll house again just yet, so he stared at it, fiddling with a broken doll. “I don’t know how to fix it,” he said.
“No one cares,” said his twin.
“I care,” said the sad little boy, tears in the corners of his eyes.
“No one cares about you either,” said the angry little boy.
The sad boy burst back into fitful sobs, and his angry sibling ignored him, turning the chair around to stare out the mansion window. Footsteps began up the stairs then, creaking and slow. And soon through the doorway stepped their mother. A yellow dress, black hair with just a few streaks of grey, the kindest smile you’ve ever seen, a few hard lines upon her face, and in the biggest sign of her true age, eyes, a stormy grey so wise, you couldn’t help listen. And be a little afraid. “What’s going on here,” said their mother.
The sad little boy kept sobbing, and his mother went over to console him. “Hate, I want you to tell me what you did.”
“I didn’t do anything!” insisted the angry little boy. “He was just playing with his stupid dollhouse.” At his mother’s severe glare, the boy adjusted, “He was playing with his dollhouse, and it got messed up.”
“And did you mess it up?” asked their mother.
“Yeah,” said the angry boy, staring at the ground.
“And is that all?”
“No,” admitted the boy. “I told him no one cares about him,” said the little boy.
“Hate of the Elders, I want you to sit in the corner and think about what you’ve done,” said their mother. The angry boy complied begrudgingly, carrying his chair over to the corner.
“Now, Fear. You don’t have to worry. He didn’t mean it. You know mother loves you, and you know Hate loves you, whether he admits it or not.”
“Nuh-none of our other siblings care about me,” said the sad little boy.
“That’s not true at all. If it weren’t for you, Death’s job would be very boring, Luck always gives you presents, and Dream lets you help him every night. And you and Hate play together every day, even if he doesn’t always play nice.”
“I’ll hear no more buts. You are very well loved, I promise you,” said the boys’ mother. From any other voice, the words would have made no impression, but Love could make even the most fearful feel safe.
“And as for you, Hate,” she said. “Fear, I’d like you to go find a book to read, something happy, while I talk to your brother.”
“Okay,” said the sad little boy.
The angry boy stomped over to his mother and sat crosslegged before her, looking down at the floor. “I’ve told you before that I don’t want you saying such things to your brother.”
“But he keeps saying things that aren’t true!”
“Well, your brother has a very powerful imagination, but that doesn’t make breaking his toys okay,” insisted their mother.
“He bugs me!”
“Hate, everything bugs you. You have to learn how to deal with it.”
“I don’t want to deal with it!” yelled the angry boy.
“I know you don’t, but you have to. Until then, I am going to take away your toy soldiers, so you know how it feels to not have your dolls.”
“But, mom! They aren’t even dolls! And I need them!” yelled the angry boy.
“I will hear no arguments,” insisted their mother. “I’ve warned you before.” And with that, and a quick hug to her sibling-son, Mother Love picked up the bin of green army men and walked out the door with them, leaving Hate to consider his actions alone in his room.
An hour later, Mother Love called her twin sibling-sons down to dinner, and the strange little family of Elders ate together. Brothers bickering, and mother mediating. Ad infinitum.