“Latoya,” Amanda says hesitantly. “I want you to meet my brother, Nick.”

My eyes fly up to meet hers. Her expression seems to be saying – he’s your brother too. We’re standing outside the primary school, which is just around the corner from the high school. I stare blankly at the kid in front of me, but I can see from the look in his eyes that he knows exactly who I am and is totally fine with it. I’ve only just got used to the idea of having a sister and now I’m supposed to accept a brother too? I can hardly get my head around this.

He’s about twelve years old and looks a lot like Amanda. But there’s something else that’s familiar about him. I almost feel as though I’ve met him before. What do you say to your long-lost brother when you meet him for the very first time? If you’re me, you say the first thing that comes into your head.

“Do you play World of Warcraft?”

He nods eagerly.

“What’s your avatar called?”

I could kick myself for these lame questions, but the kid is grinning from ear to ear.

“I’m Nicksticks3668,” he says eagerly. “I’m a mage. Let’s go Player versus Player. I’ll kick your butt all around the realm.”

I can’t help grinning back. “I don’t usually have enough bandwidth for Player versus Player, Nick, but I’ll try and find you next time I log on.”

“Come and play at our house! We’ve got uncapped ADSL. My mom won’t mind at all.”

My eyes meet Amanda’s over the top of his head and I see her lips twitch. I can feel my mouth twisting into a smile too.

“What?” Nick demands, seeing our faces.

“Latoya is Dad’s secret child, remember?” Amanda says a little tensely. “We’re not even supposed to know she exists. I think Mom might just possibly mind if we suddenly turned up with her at home one day. And remember, if you say one single word about Latoya to Mom, I’ll wait until you’re out and delete all your saved computer games.”

“That’s so unfair. Mom is always saying we must accept people as they are. It’s not fair to introduce me to my new sister and then say I’m not allowed to hang out with her. I’ve never had anyone to talk about gaming with. And anyway, why are you allowed to be friends with her and I’m not?”

This time I resist the urge to glance at Amanda. Are we friends?
I guess we’re getting there, slowly. Amanda’s phone rings and she turns away to take it. When she turns back again, her face has changed. 

“That was Jayden,” she says. “He’s got some bad news.”

Image: Robert Fabros, CC-BY-NC-2.0