Psychopomp Magazine Fall 2014 - Page 22

22 | Psychopomp Magazine

What will we do about the bear? The older brother asked her as she scrubbed the inside of the teapot. The pot was beginning to smell like dirt and leafmash, like the forest’s floor. The water came out yellow and rancid even before she dipped the teabag in it.

We’ll wait for him. She smiled and he did not return the smile. The boy’s eyes were brown and his hair was black and his skin was thicker than hers—he hardly ever bruised or scarred. He hardly looked like her at all anymore. She could only see a little something around the mouth, how it set in a line when he was angry, and that was all.

We can’t wait too long, he said.

She nodded. I know that.

He went back to his bedroom. The younger brother played with his trucks in the living room, crashing them together over and over.

Oh no, he said aloud, you don’t think you can get away, can you? I’m the law. You can’t get away from the law ever. I’ll chase you down. I’ll get you.

At night, the Mother visited the boys’ room to see if they were still breathing. She’d done this when they were babies, and she had never grown out of the habit.

The younger brother still kicked his covers off, restless in his sleep, and still held a stuffed animal, a frog, close to his chest.

The older brother slept deeply, his arm flung over his eyes to keep out the halo of light from his brother's nightlight (a winter scene in a tiny snow globe—the sweet-faced moon illuminating Santa and the reindeer flying through a black sky).

The older brother was shirtless, in only his white, sturdy, boy’s underwear. A slight shadow of hair shot from the waistband of his shorts up to his navel. The line was so light, so downy and alluringly tactile that the Mother wanted to run her hand along its length. Same with the thick, dark hair on his arm, his deep sideburns, his legs, the hair ending mid-way up his thigh like a garter. She had not seen his body since he’d insisted on taking baths on his own, without his brother, without her.

It was strange that she didn't know his body, something she had made, that it had become completely foreign to her and could surprise her. The little brother murmured and held his stuffed frog closer to his chest.