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In the Summer Heat
"If we are not our brother's keeper, at least let us not be his executioner." Marlon Brando
I. In the kitchen of the small house, the parents watched as the children ate their breakfast.
Unadulterated heat flowed through the open window. Matt on the left. Isaac on the right. Always, in
the summer, this was the scene. The mother broke the silence. "The pool is open." "I know,"
Matt answered. "Well, why don't you go for a swim? Take Isaac with you." The hot iron pan of a
house stood with its stagnant air. Matt eyed his brother. His brother, not listening. His brother,
so much stronger, so much smarter, so much better than he. He did not know when this became
apparent. They seemed equal enough as children. When did his parents decide that Isaac was the hope
of the family, the key to future prosperity? A future without the sad little house, with money,
money for school and money to spare. Matt pushed his breakfast away and looked out the window,
sunshine blinding his eyes. In the oppressive heat, in the hot iron pan that was slowly boiling
their blood, baking them from the inside out"
II. On the street, Matt raced ahead of his brother, beads of sweat springing up on his brow. "Hey,
wait up" Isaac said from behind, but then stopped to talk to some neighbors. Isaac, ever
charismatic, shone in the noon-day sun. He looked back and the retreating figure of Matt, slightly
worried. He worried that Matt was getting too far ahead. Far ahead of him, far ahead of all of them.
The pressure on Isaac those days was unbearable. He was jealous of his brother's freedom. He
wished he had never lived to see this bright, bright day. Matt must have known. Right? Matt ran on
to the pool around the block. A breeze of cool air surrounded him. He sighed in relief. The pool was
empty. Empty, except for the lifeguard, a sentinel on a lawn chair. He pushed open the chain gate
and waved. The lifeguard didn't notice. He dipped his feet in the pool, rippling the water.
III. Back at the house, they had been talking about the pool water. It had always been an odd misty
grey. "" Probably dead bodies in there," Matt had said once at the kitchen table. "What?"
questioned Isaac sharply, surprised by Matt's sudden morbidity. " Dead bodies in the pool. With
all the murders, missing persons, and suicides around here, that's why it's so grey," Matt
answered looking out the window, He knows, Isaac feared. "Ha," Isaac laughed stiffly, "It's
probably just dirty. Besides, dead bodies don't turn a pool grey." That stiff laugh. What is he
hiding? Matt thought. Not the perfect boy, not Isaac. Hiding something" "Hm," responded Matt
and continued eating his breakfast. There were many mysterious occurrences in their poor little
neighborhood. Many pent up emotions and, just maybe, many dead bodies in that pool. The house
swelled with unanswered questions. The heat suffocated any answers.
IV. At the pool, Isaac arrived. Matt's back was turned to him. It has to be now. Matt can't be
here, Isaac reflected solemnly. "Why don't you go home Matt? Doesn't make any sense to get all
wet before your interview," Isaac suggested tentatively. Matt whipped around, splashing water.
"How do you know about that?" he asked harshly. "Know about what?" asked Isaac, retreating
from Matt's glare. The sun burned the soles of his feet. He shifted nervously. "The interview.
My interview," Matt said. Matt had applied for an internship out of town. He was supposed to go
for an interview later that day. He hadn't told Isaac for a reason. Now, Matt wasn't so sure he
even wanted to go. "Oh, didn't you tell me?" Isaac replied , "Or maybe Dad mentioned
it" "I'm not going anywhere," Matt said with finality. "Just a suggestion," Isaac
said submissively. Then, he'll have to be here, Isaac decided. V. In Isaac's mind, the
resolution was made. The place was set. It was now or never. That little squabble over an interview,
that wouldn't matter now. The lifeguard had watched that exchange, but it was lunch time.
"I'll be back in ten minutes," the lifeguard said to no one in particular and left. Better
that way, Isaac thought, Better with less people. It was just them two now, two brothers with the
mist, the silence, and the heat. "Matt," Isaac whispered approaching his brother. "What? What
do you want?" Matt snapped. He looked at his brother and something made him recant in his anger.
What was that look in Isaac's eyes? What was that odd composure? "Nothing," Isaac answered.
Nothing at all. He ran to the deepest end of the pool, the dark misty grey pulsating in the sun.
Isaac stood, as Matt watched, glowing gold. Then, he dived into the mist, head first. VI. Over on
the pool's other end, Matt watched his brother dive. Much too shallow for diving"¦ Matt thought
passively. But, then again, Isaac must know that. Matt saw his brother's body sink into the mist.
Seconds passed. Seconds turned into minutes. Matt sat alone, waiting. Waiting for Isaac resurging,
victorious, as he always did. Waiting for him to break the surface. The heat was choking him. Matt
could barely see through the hazy air. The water was as thick as wool, the air a blanket of cotton,
stuffed down his throat. He needed relief. Matt waded into the water and began to swim. It was then
that he saw Isaac. Isaac, floating, the mist permeated by red. Isaac, his body twisted, his head
limp. Matt swam forward, faster and faster, gasping in the water. At the bottom of the pool, there
were no dead bodies. Not yet.
VII. In the summer heat, images swirled without order or reason, like madness. Nothing made sense.
Where the hell is the lifeguard? Matt screamed in his head. Gone. He looked around. All gone. He
clung to his brother's limp body. He's still breathing. Oh God" Isaac's eyelids fluttered
wildly. He thrashed against Matt's touch. Struggling, struggling against himself? Struggling to
live? Struggling to die? I can save him, I can" He knew the procedure from Lifeguarding class.
But, suddenly, he couldn't remember. Water and heat everywhere. His brain fried. He stood trying
to hold on to his brother. Isaac, Isaac... Why hadn't he seen it? That look, that strange look.
The hope of the family with his eyes like glass looking into nothing, nothing, nothing. I can save
him, I can" Matt's eyes blur. Tears? Water? He hears the lifeguard, back from lunch, sounding so
far away. Yelling, something, muffled by the air. Matt hears the lifeguard splash as he jumps in. He
hears nothing, nothing but the words of Isaac, "Dead bodies don't turn the pool grey." And all