Marshall and the Martians
When we were seven, Marshall and I would play astronauts and Martians. He was always the astronaut, and I was always the monster. By virtue of being 23 minutes older, and somehow much bigger, he always got to be the good guy, but he never let himself be the winner. He was always going down in a hail of laserfire or jumping on an imaginary bomb to save a bunch of imaginary lives.
I wonder whose life he imaged he was saving in the end.
I was the evil, ugly Martian, doomed to die, if I had been playing with anyone else. Not Marshall. Even though I always won, his incessant martyrdom always made me feel weaker. Already significantly shorter and skinnier, and much less athletic, he found a way to make me feel even more helpless by always being the one to sacrifice himself.
I hated him for that. I got over it eventually, but I think even that was temporary.
That is not to say we weren’t close once. Back then, we also used to convince all our friends and family that we could communicate telepathically. It was all Marshall’s idea. We were, of course, faking it, but I think we sold it fairly well. We started off by agreeing on a bunch of predetermined thoughts. So many, in fact, that I had a hard time remembering them all. Each one had a corresponding hand signal. We’d stare each other down and Marshal would be discretely flashing me signs, like a catcher to a pitcher, a crooked grin stretching his face. Continue Reading »