I. My brother and I are playing
a heated game of Monopoly
on a table-like rock we found
while walking through the forest.
The board is all set up. He’s the
automobile and I’m the thimble.
Sometimes a gentle breeze will
whistle through the air and push one
of the fake, pink five-dollar bills
into the sky. The two of us will scream
and look up to see where the money
has gone but instead we’ll see the
sun beating down on us and making
it hard to find anything at all.
Blink once. Twice. Vision restored.
The game can continue.
II. My brother and I are lying
on the top bunk of our bed. It’s late,
the lights are out, but we stole a
flashlight from Dad’s toolbox before
we went to bed so we could read the
new X-Men comic under the blankets
and pillows and sheets. I can read
faster than he can, and when I try to turn
the page, he whispers “wait!” in his
baby voice and holds my hand to make
sure I won’t go on without him. Sometimes
we’ll hear a creak in the floorboards outside
our room and we’ll flatten ourselves against
the mattress, turn out the flashlight,
and hold our breath. We’ll wait until it seems as if
the sun has risen and set again, and then
we’ll resume reading the comic without
a concern in the world.
III. My brother and I are sitting
together at the lunch table at school,
alone. All the students move around us
like a flock of birds that we aren’t allowed
to join. They flap their wings and move
in circles and dance to the beat that
we can’t seem to hear. I have peanut butter
on my fingers but we begin to play
rock, paper, scissors anyway so it doesn’t
bother us that we aren’t part of the group.
Someone calls my brother something mean,
and he’s embarrassed. I use my X-Men powers
to make her feel bad for the name-calling,
but she just walks away. I make a fist with my
peanut butter-covered hand and we get
lost in a world of our own creation.
IV. My brother and I are sleeping
in separate sleeping bags in a tent
off the coast of Long Island.
The sand that I’m lying on molds my back
into convoluted knots so I turn onto my side
and I see my brother, I hear him for the first time,
crying like a cloud that is overly condensed,
a sponge that I squeeze the water from after
washing dishes, a faucet spitting up water
to bathe a young girl. I ask my brother what
the matter is but he chooses to say nothing.
I wonder if it’s about the names he’s being
called at school, but I don’t ask. I crawl out
of my sleeping bag, unzip his sleeping bag,
and join him, giving him a hug and helping him
fall back asleep on the bumpy shore.
V. My brother and I are waiting
for our parents to open the door to the
house since we no longer live there.
The garden looks serene and the pool
looks clean, like it’s full of rainwater
and bleach. Our parents open the door and
we discover them to be a little bit shorter,
a little bit harder, a little bit colder than when
we left them. They aren’t happy with my brother,
and they aren’t happy with me for loving my brother,
but I can tell that they miss us. All that my brother
and I want is to be held in their arms. They tell
my brother that it doesn’t matter if he loves girls
or boys, but it does matter that he loves them.
The water in the pool isn’t rainwater or bleach, it’s
the tears that my brother and I produce upon
hearing this. The sun makes it hard
to see each other
so we go inside.
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.