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"Brother" A Short Story Not About, But Inspired by Criss's Death
this and other writing available at Dark Poetic Prose

what shows in the eye of life beats in the heart of the soul. reflections on fuzzy lenses are blazing testimonials to the agony the outside induces within him.

there are sounds in the darkness that are only heard by the lonely. the sound of lovers kissing. the gentle laughter of friends chatting. the quiet hiss from a sleeping spouse's breath. sounds that permiate the air on nights when alone is the very last thing i wanted be. i know they're not really there. they're just the whispers from memories that are stirred by the darkness--amplified by the loneliness.

a pair of sneakers chaffing the pavement makes a muffled plea for resolution. a solo human being amidst sleeping cars and silent houses wades through the night air engrossed by the solitude.

i tried so hard to bring him back to life. i thought if i could draw the right image of him he might yet live again. but my hands have failed the both of us. my skill with the pencil fell short of the dream i endeavoured for us.

the lines were in place. the face familiar. but some secret touch, some piece of him unknown to me was missing in the art. i managed to reproduce the rounded nose and darting cheeks. even his modest chin and discontented eyes looked out at me from my rendition of him. everything i've ever known about him i put into the curviture of each line, yet still it wasn't quite right. alive only in my mind. the portrait wreaked of his soul and his dreams, but the life was missing.

i need to hear your music come from living fingers not grooves in vinyl or lasers across discs. the machines paint a hollow portrait of you in my mind. they make you seem more dead, if that is possible. and these photgraphs--these plays of light that fool my eyes into believing i can see you, but in my heart i know they are only illusions. my eyes will never taste the kindness of your face again. and my ears will never again caress the notes emitted from your living fingers.

when a man dies he leaves behind the legacy of what he's accomplished. but when a brother dies he leaves behind his entire life in the edler's memory. chidlhood games and sibling rivalries--millions of sounds and images mimic a life that no longer exists. the tolerable suffering that every heart must face at some time in life is just the burden of having once been loved and being able to love. death might stretch the tender threads that link brother to brother, but they cannot be severed.

i wonder what it's like where you are. can you see me, hear me? are you lonely, scared, happy? do you need to see my tears to know that i am missing you? or can you sense the sorrow in my breath as it rises up through the air ever closer to you? is there a heaven or do the souls of the dead just comb the universe looking for a home that isn't there for them? i should hate you or at least be mad at you, but i don't. i'll bet you don't know why though. it's 'cause if i had half the balls you do i'd have beat you to it. but i was always afraid of something. but mostly afraid there'd be nothing. no heaven or hell, no other dimension, just infinite nothing to torture me for all eternity.

but the one question i ponder most is do you regret it or are you better for it? I guess if i could believe that it truly made you happy when nothing here on Earth could do that, then i could convince myself that you were only doing what was necessary for you. i know you can't send me a letter or give me a ring. but maybe just a few notes from your favorite guitar would tell me you feel you did the right thing. i've got it here right beside me. i've been trying to decide whether i should give it away or keep it. i honestly don't know which will hurt me more. i guess i'll just leave it here with you. maybe you can use it wherever you are. . .

then a solitary note was born out of the darkness. a few tiny tears stumbled down quivering cheeks. at first there was just the single note, but then more began to join the parade. between the gravestones and the orphan guitar the brother left behind clutched himself rocking gently in time with the music. the strings on the instrument never stirred, but he heard the music clearly. a warmth on his shoulders and the chords tickling his ears erased all doubt, allayed the pain.

i know now he sighed to himself. i'll always miss you, but you did what you had to.

leaving the guitar at the grave he shuffled away. a fresh song playing secretly in his heart. the darkness no longer so dark. the world no longer silent. sneakers chaffed the pavement once again, but not so pensively anymore. just casual--ordinary. walking home alone, but not quite so lonely.

Copyright 1995 by Stacie Forman. All rights reserved.

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