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"Dr. Chrome's office was an igloo. When he spoke, his breath came out in a flurry, freezing my face into an expression of complacency."


Submitted:Jul 12, 2012    Reads: 46    Comments: 1    Likes: 1   


Mother stopped crying the day she started marking exes on the calendar.


"What a healthy boy."

Dr. Chrome's office was an igloo. When he spoke, his breath came out in a flurry, freezing my face into an expression of complacency. He placed his spectroscope on my bare chest. I started at the cold.

"It's alright," he murmured. Simultaneously, my fingers, which had, from the start, befriended the chilly surface of the examining table, relinquished their connection. My awe-struck brows descended, and the "oh" between my lips vanished. My whole body fell into a state of silence.

I imagined the sea at my back. I was as white as the cold. The foam on an open sea.

"You can sit up, now."

A pair of blue eyes awaited me. So dull they were, like a sea drained of water. The wrinkles which surrounded them marked where rivers had been, but where none were now.

Delicately, Dr. Chrome took my hand in his. In his other was a syringe. As its needle was extended into the delta beneath my palm, the convergence of four rivers, I understood.


Mother exited the hospital room with cheeks flushed red, like she had just braved a blizzard. As Father approached her to give her a kiss, I made my way, hesitantly, towards the source of my attention: the tiny creature in the midst of her arms. His tranquil eyes, his soft complexion, which never the once was interrupted by the dip of his nose or the valley generated by his mouth, astounded me.

I reached out to touch him, and felt Mother's fingers curl over mine. "Your brother."

As her fingers slackened, I broke free. I laid my hand on his chest, and felt the undulating of a river beneath it. Under the white of his brow, I found a delta.


"Don't drink that milk. It's spoiled."

Staring into the cup, I counted the little islands of congealed suds. Suddenly, I had an idea.

In his high chair, he gulped it down like a pirate did his whiskey. When his bottle was drained, his eyes glued expectantly to mine. I bid my time, wiping the table and rinsing the dishes. Finally, when fear and exasperation had gotten the best of me, I glimpsed into the cup once more, and let the rest of the milk wash down my own throat. Before I knew it, the whole world was rushing out of my mouth.

The next day, I was late in arriving home from school. "Perhaps you should take your dinner into your room," Mother said.

That following day, I caught the earliest shuttle home. I was met with the same response.

Gradually, my photographs began to disappear from the walls. An eye untrained of the subtleties of the home would not have seen it, but my eyes, my keen, injured set of eyes, saw his pictures replace mine. He smiled from the walls, his eyes like mine, except that they shined a bit brighter; the same height as me, except that he stood a bit straighter; the same smile, except that behind his, there was a completeness.


"It's only a broken arm," Father said. "It'll heal on its own."


The river is breaking in my ears. It is so loud I can barely hear. Grass licks my elbows, rubbing the skin raw. I force him below me, but, in a breath, he is above me again. The river is breaking into the ocean. My mouth is wet, and the earth is under my fingernails. I must let go. I must let go to toss him down again. I can hear him breathing this whole time. I imagine that he is drowning. But I am drowning, too. He is trying to catch his breath. It's funny that he thinks this is all a game. That I'll just pin him down and it's over. But this isn't a game. It never was. This is living. I kick at his stomach and wrench his arm underneath mine. The deafening roar of the ocean. His breath on my neck. I yearn to be the ocean. To be perpetual. I reach behind my back and, with all my might, throw him over my head. To be invincible. He crumples on the ground, and I am above him.

I am stronger, for now.


Mother stopped marking my birthday on the calendar.


"I hate you," I stammer. "I hate you. I hate you!" As if continuing to say it would make him disappear.

"I'm-I'm sorry."

"Sorry? You're sorry." I close my eyes and see those of Dr. Chrome's. I bang my fist on the table and imagine the ice breaking, the water flowing into all the lines around them, where the rivers left their imprint.

When I open my eyes again, he is still staring at me. "What, haven't you seen anyone cry before?"

"I'm sorry." And now, he is crying, too.

"You, you know," and I turn away, because I can't stand it, looking at him, "you used to do that all the time. When Mother first took you home. You wouldn't stop." I turn to face him again. "Mother couldn't stand it, but I got used to it. I'd make songs out of all the different times you cried-I'd even give them names."

He laughs, and it is a suffocated sound. "You can still do that. You-you can make one out of this."

I shake my head. "No."

"Yes. Please."

"No, I can't."

There is a delta on my wrist. I find it, and let the rivers flow free.





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