White Cliffs
Nancy Bosecker

Sweeney swung around the pole of a whale oil street lamp, a sly grin affixed to his face. "It's so simple - we break in, steal the loot, and go halvers on the booty." He kicked the dirt.

I yanked his arm to halt his momentum. I understood my older brother more when he was an angry and red-faced, howling at Pop for dragging him away from his beloved Dover to Philadelphia after Mum died. Sweeney was easier to gage in rage than in bliss. "Robbing Benjamin Franklin isn't going to do nothing except get us killed."

"Bloody hell!" Sweeney slipped out of my grasp and lost his smirk. He ran back and swiftly kicked the street lamp. "The bloke invented these damn things, and you're saying he's got no money?" Sweeney - hobbled - jumped up and down, holding his kicking foot.

"I never said he was poor." I stuffed my hands in my pockets defiantly. Poor infuriated Sweeney. Poor reminded Sweeney of distant white cliffs across the Atlantic. Poor killed our Mum. Poor was us.

Sweeney lost his balance, teetered, fell behind-first into the dirt, and slammed his head against the lamp post. Suppressing laughter, I plopped down next to him and handed him my handkerchief for his head.

"I know Franklin's got enough jewels and money to get us back home." Sweeney spoke slowly. I focused my thoughts and tried to envision Dover's cliffs while he plotted, but both Mum and England appeared clearly to me only in dreams.

First published: November 2002
comments: knobs@iceflow.com