Mama!” I yell. “Hakeem messed up my room again!”
I look around my room, which is a blur through my angry tears. Before Hakeem came home with us a month ago, it was perfect. The walls were painted exactly like I wanted: pink and gold. Now there are ugly marker scribbles everywhere that won’t wash off. Baba promised to paint over them more than a week ago, but he still hasn’t done it.
Mama rushes in.
“It’s not so bad,” she sighs as she surveys my books dumped out of the bookshelves and all my LEGO creations smashed into pieces.
“It’s not your room,” I sniffle. “Why can’t I get a lock on my door?”
“We are not going to lock your brother out of any part of the house, Aleena. He has to learn.”
He has to learn. Hakeem gets a pass on everything because he’s 4 and doesn’t understand English, or because he’s never seen books or LEGOs before. Sometimes it feels like he hasn’t learned anything since we brought him to Virginia from the orphanage in Morocco.
Before I can stop them, images of the orphanage fill my mind. I picture Hakeem’s cot, and I start to feel guilty . . . until I spot the slime.
“Aaaaah!” I wail. “Look!”
Right in front of my closet, all my plastic bags of colorful slime are open and have oozed onto my cream-colored carpet.
“Oh,” Mama says, frowning. “This is bad.”
“I know!” I start to cry again. “This was my best batch of slime. I used all my glitter in it!”
“You can always make more slime. This carpet is another story. Did you have to dye this stuff pink and orange?”
“All you care about is the carpet—and his feelings,” I mutter.
It’s the same way with my dad and my older brother, Bilal. They always take Hakeem’s side. It’s not fair, because it’s always my stuff he messes up, not theirs.
Hakeem sticks his head inside the door, smiles his most charming smile, and points at me. That’s usually enough to make me smile back and forgive him. But not today.
“Get out !” I slam the door.
Whenever I complain about Hakeem ruining my life, my parents like to remind me of the day I said yes to adopting him. But what did I know? I wasn’t even 11 years old yet.