Thomas knew he wouldn’t ever be so lucky as to go on a turkey drive like Robert had but he still felt like he must be one of the luckiest boys around to have such a great big brother, a hero returned from the southern war. Even though he didn’t remember him from before, even though Robert was fifteen years older, they were close from the moment Robert returned home and set his musket in the corner of the hallway, from the first time Robert tossed him in the air but then asked him seriously how things were on the farm, respecting Thomas and the chores that he kept up with. And Robert was good to work with, more patient than Pa, always took time to explain why things were done a certain way, allowed Thomas time to see how things worked.
Thomas looked out for his big brother, didn’t worry him about overhearing Pa wondering with Ma if Robert was all right, wondering at how he’d changed, wondering how he was going to make it. Thomas looked out for Robert when he was yelling and thrashing about just because of a cardinal beating its wings against the window, quieted him down, said it’s all right, shush it’s all right, just a little bird got confused, shush now, don’t get so excited, what’d you think it was?
Thomas wouldn’t realize that Robert looked out for him too, by not answering his questions or explaining what gave him bad dreams and waking nightmares.
This is a second Six Sentence Story for this week’s prompt word “cardinal”. (The first is Sidelined) This story features Civil War vet Robert, returned to the family farm in Vermont, and his little brother Thomas, both of whom you may remember from past flashes.