A Simple Mistake

In response to a writing prompt on Reddit



When together, my little brother Charlie and I became hellions. We’d scheme about who would steal the potato chips from the cabinet, we’d bounce on the leather sofas and beat each other up with mom’s very expensive pillows. When it came time to point fingers, we’d always blame on our dog, Betsy. Looking back, I knew mom and dad didn’t believe us; they just found it easier to pretend the lie was the truth rather than scold us about it.

Our little lies, however, were believed by the neighbors. The Johnson’s inflatable pool now had a gaping hole? It was their cat. The Rolfe’s fence had crayon smeared all over it? It was their two year old.

We were quite fond of lying to the neighbors–especially Mrs. Harris. She was the type of granny who you’d see on the TV: frail, sweet, and most importantly, gullible. One day, we thought we’d play a little prank on her: we’d sneak into her bedroom and throw toilet paper everywhere while she was out gardening. When she asked what happened, we would just blame it on the kids down the street.

The two of us could barely contain our fiendish giggles as we crept over to her place. In my hands was a gym bag filled with toilet paper.

“This is gonna be so much fun, Jess,” he said in a hushed voice. He could barely contain his excitement.

“I know…just keep your voice down, okay? We don’t wanna cause any suspicions!” I whispered back.

“You’re the boss,” he whispered back. Though I was six years older than him, he treated me like I was a grown-up. I liked that.

Getting into Harris’s home was easy. She left the front door open. Before long, her entire bedroom was littered in soft white dotted paper. Even the carpet was shown no mercy.

We looked at our handy work in pride. “I’m gonna go and see if she had any chips to eat before we leave then,” I said with a smile. “You stay here and guard the place! Call me if you can see her coming back in!”

“Ay, cap’n!” Charlie said and did a little military salute.

I searched the cabinets for chips, but there were none to be found. In fact, there wasn’t any kid-friendly food to be found in her place. With a disappointed huff, I made my way back up the wooden steps and into the old woman’s room. Charlie thought it would be funny to throw a few more rolls of paper onto the lady’s headboard.

“No chips,” I said. “Let’s just get outta here.”

Charlie pouted. “‘Kay, Jess.” He proceeded to follow me down the stairs.


Before I had time to register that noise, I found myself suddenly falling headfirst down those wooden steps, a sharp pain in my back.



I opened my eyes.

Everything was dark. No… I could see flashing red and blue lights in the distance.

And…I could hear…talking…

My eyes focused on two people standing right in the living room. It was a cop and Mrs. Harris.

“For the last time, I just don’t know how this could happen,” she cried. “I was outside gardening! I didn’t know they were in here…”

“I know, I know…” the cop said and patted the woman on the back. “You don’t need to explain to me. We finally got the brother to tell us what happened.”


“The kid thought that it would be funny if he jumped on his brother. The teen was kicked in the back instead and fell headfirst down the steps. Snapped his neck and everything. Dead before he even hit the final step.”

It was at that moment, that I jumped to my feet and yelled at both the cop and Mrs. Harris. “That’s a lie! You’re lying!”

But my screams fell on deaf ears.

The cop sighed. “Kid’s so young, so he isn’t gonna be cha–”

I didn’t listen to anymore. Like a wild animal, I ran out of that place; ran across the street and into my own home. I wasn’t even aware at the time that I had walked right through the door.

“Jesus Christ!” My mom screamed as I entered. Her face was stained with tears, her eyes red.

“Mom!” I was still alive…I had to be…! Mom knew I was there!

But she only walked right through me to bang her fist against the wall.


Dad came rushing in, instantly wrapping his arms around her while she broke down. It wasn’t long until he was just as equally in tears as she.

“Mom…dad…! I’m here…!” I cried. I yelled, attempted to kick them…but it was no use. They couldn’t feel me.

And then Charlie came in.

His skin had grown pale, his little cheeks red–as his eyes were.

And as were his hands. Completely stained red as if coated with blood.

That was the night that I realized that my little brother had killed me. It was also the night that I gained the ability to see who committed murder–I found that out quickly. Every captured murderer on TV would have the same bloodied hands. Of course, it was a useless skill for the deceased. Had I been alive, I would be some sort of super hero who could solve all those detective cases.

Eventually, my brother would grow up to be a doctor; a damn good one at that. He started a family, got his own business, and was very happy.

When asked about what happened to me, he would just put on a half smile and say that I had died of an illness.

And every time he told this lie, his red hands grew a little redder.



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