He held his brother’s hand as the shaking boy leaned over the sofa again and clutched his stomach.
The rough patches and strange smells were still all over the skin. He buried his face in the covers and started to cry. If only their mother was there. If only he hadn’t let him dig.
Toby leaned against the railing and scowled at the sunny day. It wasn’t fair.
Summer was for fun, not babysitting his annoying little brother, Mark. He kicked against the faded porch floor, sending flakes of paint everywhere. At least they had the house to themselves. Soon, however, Toby was going to wish that wasn’t true.
He took a deep breath as the irritating boy asked if Toby would come play…again.
The air smelled like fresh dirt and a whiff of something sweet but strange. A wave of anger washed through him. He could have been smelling the beach instead. “Hey!” Mark said. “I found something!”
Toby stomped across the yard and scowled, wishing he was an only child.
What stupid worm or rusted bottle cap was so important? On top of it, the little human was now filthy. Great! The day was just getting worse! “It’s metal,” Mark said. “Old maybe.” Whatever it was, it gave off a strange shining green.
“Wanna help?” Mark asked. The hole was already impressively big, but Toby wasn’t about to give his brother the satisfaction of a compliment.
He left out a huff and snapped. “No! Do whatever you want. Just stop bothering me! Leave me alone.” Little did he know he was going to regret those words.
Toby spun around, went inside, slammed the screen door behind him, and paid attention to the television instead.
After several shows of odd sea life had passed, he finally noticed he was still blissfully alone. But the last thing he wanted was to be grounded. So, he peeked out the door. His brother sat in the yard, far too still.
“Mark?” He didn’t respond. “Hey, doofus. Mom’s going to kill you.” He fumed over to the large hole.
More of the green metal had been unearthed. But his brother wasn’t holding a shovel anymore. He slowly scratched at red skin. His face was as pale as paper. “I feel dizzy,” he whispered.
Everything became a blur. Whatever anger or annoyance he had felt before drained away and was replaced with a deep, cold pit of fear and guilt.
He picked up the boy and rushed him inside. Something smelled terrible and it was all over Mark. He tried to dial his mom. No answer. Mark threw up.
Fear crept through his limbs and froze him in place. He should have been watching his brother.
So stupid. He was so stupid! He gently set the boy on the sofa and watched him curl up into a little ball. His fingers couldn’t dial 911 fast enough. Even though they promised they were on their way, he couldn’t wait around doing nothing. He grabbed the shovel.
At least he could find the source. His mind raced with horrible ideas of what was down there.
Each push and swing was fueled by regret and a few tears. He didn’t mean what he had said. Not really. He had to save his brother. Even when the bad smell grew stronger, a black substance oozed from the hole, and he too started feeling dizzy, he still kept digging. He pushed down again. CRACK.
Glass shattered. There was a new hole. There was something inside the metal frame.
He leaned in and squinted. Black curves met with silver and ended in a circle. He took a long, deep breath and felt his head spin. “It can’t be,” he muttered. He immediately knew how to help his brother.
Toby rushed back in, feeling waves of relief. Mark looked up, still pale.
“Am I dying?” Toby smiled and said, “No. It was just gas and oil.” Only a few moments later, sirens wailed outside and a loud knock came at the door. The police had also come. Maybe they could tell him why there was a car buried in their backyard.
Over the next few days, he sat on the back porch and watched them unearth the vehicle (and avoided a very angry mum).
Mark sat beside him, fidgeting and squirming with excitement. “Can we keep it?” the boy asked. As Toby spotted the distinct horse logo, he gaped and said, “I really hope so.” It wasn’t just any car.
It was an actual Ferrari! Toby could already picture himself learning to drive on it and pulling up to the beach so everyone could be jealous.
There wasn’t much he and his brother both liked. However, he saw the same sparkle in the boy’s eyes and knew they both had an identical wish. Sadly, the cops had bad news.
When Toby overheard the words “stolen” and “insurance fraud” he frowned.
Toby shook his head in disappointment and went back inside. Mark sat on the floor surrounded by toys. “Wanna play?” he asked. For some reason, he didn’t feel annoyed this time. He smiled back, sat down with his brother, and grabbed a tiny sports car.