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My Brother’s Handwriting

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Peter Farrar

We were joined by scars. His lay under an eye like a dimple in a smile. He said he always remembered the tip of that tomato stake spearing towards him. Glimpsed the exertion in my seven year old eyes. The stake glanced off his face. Blood threaded down until he smeared it over a cheekbone. Looking at his hand he started crying. Between his lurching sobs I pleaded with him not to tell our parents. 

I had a scar too. Near my shoulder. Like the silvery trail left by a snail. People asked about it whenever I tanned. My brother Luke bounded up behind me and swung a spade at my head. The blade caked with crumbling topsoil. Our father had been planting vegetables, nasally singing Frank Sinatra songs. Grit sprinkled over me as he brought it down. The spade grazed my head and thudded into a shoulder.

Hot water later burned through the wound in the shower. In silence my mother methodically dabbed at blood weeping from the cut. After dressing the wound she told me I’d better look for my brother. I’d find him behind the hedge three doors down. He’d be there on haunches, stilling his breath. It’s where he always hid.    

The coffee trembled in my hand as I sipped heat. People moved around my mother’s house. Table legs scraped floor as a room rearranged. Checked the knot of my tie. Someone called that the car arrived. I followed people out. Off to one side my brother’s best friend limped, from the gout he explained, while I pretended to listen. My brother’s widow Melissa walked ahead. Our mother trailed her, shoulders hunched. 

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