strange aeons by Casper Brooks
Her brother’s name has been dead longer than he has. His name’s been dead almost since the moment someone said it the first time- he has been dead approximately six and a half hours.
On a particularly morbid morning they’d snuck out of church and sat on the steps, looking up at the empty sky and trying to imagine the flood, or the arc. Neither was forthcoming, but he’d talked about the ocean, gesturing like he could steal the hues from the sky to paint them on the ground.
“You couldn’t go to the ocean.” She’d told him. “You can’t swim.”
He’d looked at her like she was missing the point.
She didn’t know if he’d wanted to die, but he certainly hadn’t wanted to die like this, in a low-cut dress, dropped at the end of a jagged set of tire tracks that riff back and forth through the sand. For a moment she wants to surrender to the pressure building up in the back of her head; she wants to scream and throw herself onto his shoulder to cry; she wants to shake him and beg him to wake up.
She doesn’t do any of that. She pulls out a knife.
She thinks as she works, because if she does not keep her mind away from her hands the
foundation will give and she will collapse, like him, and she will not stop bleeding, and neither
will he. She has more of his blood on her hands than the man who killed him did- there is so
little, at first, but then she has to get at his spinal column so she can see the point of impact.
How did he get here? It’s the wrong question, she knows the answer. Her brother liked men with fast cars who didn’t ask him questions. Perhaps in the abstract the answer isn’t about the desert- the dawn dragging itself up out of the dust. How did we get here? That’s a better one. Her brother used to say love was a Vegas night when you remembered your wins but woke up with your pockets empty anyway, but he loved her.
She works against death’s grip until it lets him go- she holds his hands, flexes his fingers until they relax, moves onto his arms, stretches them until she can set them down by his sides. She folds his arms across his stomach the way he did when they used to watch the sky for rain.
She turns her back on the sun rising, takes her bloody hands, marks the places on her body
she’d give to save him- draws severing lines across her wrists, her neck, her elbows. In the end, it’s her knee that gives, and she nearly screams against the pain of it, but she needs to get out the rest of the words, can’t make the sacrifice for nothing for please god bring my brother back.
He opens his eyes.
Casper Brooks is a Queer fiction and nonfiction writer from Virginia, with a particular interest in love languages and both of those words individually. They can be found yelling about queer identity, current events, and jellyfish at @caspercrypt on twitter.