Golden Boy lived in a little house on our mantlepiece. I want to tell Ma I took him, but I am not going to. I love him more than Ma does, even though he is her son. He was going to be my regular brother; instead, he was roasted and then gilded before he got born. Ma has a delivery scar she rubs with oil after her bath. My brother’s house is very decorative and pretty. I painted parts of it myself. Ma says I am already prettier than her and that I will keep getting prettier.
I was the one who grew up with Golden Boy, not Ma. He is older than me, but I play with him like he isn’t. He is just as big as my mother’s hand, just small enough to come out of her scar. I was bigger when I was born, but I’m not supposed to talk about Ma’s vagina. He looks a million years old. I’ve seen babies just born. They look like angry grandparents but smaller and more violent.
My brother gets a little bigger with gold every year on his birthday, or instead of his birthday. Gold leaf does not look like a leaf at all. It is impossibly thin paper that wants nothing more than to shrivel into a bright dot. Golden Boy is a shriveled dot of a boy, so the gold is good for him. Ma has long fingernails. She holds a sheet of gold just over him and drops it a tiny distance. It clings to him like a rainy dress. Then I am allowed to help. We both blow on him so the gold will scrunch even tighter to his body. We have to keep our lips very dry.
He has only ever lived inside Ma and then his house, so I think he is glad he came with me to school. I have to walk a long ways, but he does not. I see the same things every day on my walk, but he does not. It is all new and beautiful to him. Or new and horrible, or both, as things sometimes are. Having my little gold brother in my pocket is good and scary. I love him better than I love my friends at school, but he is a secret, of course. I don’t know if other girls have secrets like me. I take very good care of him. Ma says it would be bad, bad luck if something happened to him. Badder than anything that has ever happened before.
It must be that he made me take him. I’m a good person, but to take him and keep him secret is hard and maybe bad. There are no boys in my class, but if there were, I don’t think my brother would like them. He is much nicer and more gentle. He is lucky and boys are days gone wrong. I do not want to have a boy when I am a mother.
Sometimes Ma reads Golden Boy a poem before I go to bed, and we give him a coin to sleep with. I suppose I will have to do that myself tonight.