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My Brother’s Handwriting

Page 4

Peter Farrar

“He said there was a lot of debt,” I said, turning the ignition key. “All the times I visited your house and thought how everything looked expensive.”

We drove to Jo’s house. Could’ve asked her back into my life when she draped arms around Melissa. Watched them propped against each other. Melissa cried, shoulders lifting and falling. Nearly said I deserved sympathy too. He was my brother after all. Jo looked at me from Melissa’s bobbing head. It was no use longing to be back with her. I could’ve visited her, like that time when trying to save our marriage. When she undressed I ran fingertips over red lines left by her bra across skin. Drew them over the marks, as if touching sadness, hers as well as mine. We hardly spoke another word before the familiarity of her hard ribs and outlines of faded tans stretched under me. My hands circled wrists. She was so small and delicate there. I kneaded just under her hands, as our chests grinded together. My thumbs pressed through to her pulse.

“Radius bone,” she said to me later. “That’s the part of me you touched under my wrists.  Think you bruised me. When we were in love I wanted to ink a tattoo there. Probably something stupid. Your initials, your name, a heart. Something I’d later hate and need laser treatment to erase.”  

Once Jo told me I never said I loved her. It wasn’t true. It was that she only heard me once. Told her four times. The first I was so close to her my breath lay along her sleeping face. The second spoken into the fold of her ear so that my love hooped and wisped in the curls of her skin before she turned to ask what I’d said. The third time behind her as she cooked, my words shadows on the nape of her neck. The fourth was when she did hear. When she left. She slammed the door on my words as if they were the first part of me to break.         

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