I saw Felipe yesterday. It was the first time I’d seen him since his brother’s wedding, and he looked just the way he’s always looked when he was sleeping.
He’s slept the same way since we were born. Mouth open, the thoughtful look on his face accompanied by a scab or scrape for good measure.
Those scabs when we were little were often my fault. Even now, at 22 we both still have reminders of our childhood wars: his on his forehead, me on my hand. We poked, hit, bit, pushed, kicked, and absolutely refused to be separated.
We were a team at that age. We were for better of for worse.
The “worse” was public. It was in everyone’s faces and at the expense of our Uncle’s and Aunt’s, and parent’s energies as they would try to chase us around the house pulling us off of each other or whatever cabinet, or shelf, or tree we had decided to scale.
The “for better” part was ours. It was quiet and mostly private. They were the times he’d try to nurture and fix my wounds regardless of the fact he mostly caused them. The way he absent-mindedly played with my hair at 8-years old while we were squished together on the couch with his sister watching the scary movies we’d found tucked away in a closet. The way he always made me laugh. Sharing his journal writing with me and the stories behind it as we grew a little older. And, the occasional heart-to-hearts we’d have at 2am when our late teens brought greater distance between the amount we’d see each other.
Being exactly three weeks apart we spent our lives arguing about who should get the final say while renting videos, buying snack food, deciding what to do, where to go. But we also shared stories from grade to grade about adventures, teachers and what we were learning, and sometimes we even revealed secrets on how to get in good with the opposite sex.
All the millions of memories forgotten in the back of my mind, and all the ones still colorfully vivid came to me as I watched him. My Felipe. Just lying there.
I waited for him to wake up. I kissed his cheek and he didn’t swat me away. I twisted his hair in my fingers and whispered, ‘I see you finally decided to brush it’.
But still he didn’t move. And when I took his hand, I really knew for the first time that he never would again.
It felt so cold. I wanted to wrap him up in a blanket. His fingers were waxy and smooth like they’d been scrubbed clean—a long way from the rough and strong hands that had shaken me awake almost every Christmas morning since we were born.
There he was. Little Felipe. Little teaching me to play Nintendo, holding my head under the covers after he’d farted, swaying with me for hours in the basement hammock, Felipe. My partner in mischief and the only person who’s ever shared the loves of my life: scheming, and dreaming. There he was.
Still managing to bring life, tears and love into the room, even in death.
Amaya Duran is a Latina American writer based in Seattle, WA. For her day job she works as a humanitarian in disaster zones. Her off time is spent with her family, and 1 year old Maltipoo.
Sometime Too Natural Shapes
Four vultures sit in silent conference
It’s been observed they will not land
To pick clean
A carcass whose blood was let
In the shape of a spiral.
We should follow their example,
Constellations of Necessity
We mapped the stars with peerless confidence
Charting elephants, turtles
And long-tailed snarling dragons
I’ve found, living in the city
I can do this with the lit squares of dim office spaces
Though the animals I conjure
Are altogether less inspired
But There are Dragons in this City
I may even be a part of someone else’s
I keep the lights turned bright for them
In hopes I’ll be its eye
Omri Kadim was born in London and has since lived in Paris, Tel Aviv, Athens, Vienna and New York. He writes both poetry and dramatic works, with several plays having been produced in New York and a recent short film he co-wrote having been accepted into the Cannes Short Film Corner 2016. His poems follow Pound’s dictum, “Fundamental accuracy of statement is the sole morality of writing’ and thus are often Spartan in their composition.
It was evening. We were standing near a line of trees that looked like conifers; the sky was darkening behind the trees. It was time to go back. This was the last crossing: our damaged equipment would permit no more. We had seen things that were almost impossible to believe. Ahead of us, our scientist turned a dial as her assistant busied himself next to her, attaching leads, connecting wires. Before long we saw the familiar blue flames, the portal hanging in torn space. One by one we stepped through. As soon as we emerged on the other side, we hurried down the corridor and up the stairs: it was necessary to conceal the equipment. We had already been away for too long.
In the small room at the top we worked quickly, boarding up the passage to the stairway, dragging bookcases across the room.
One of us stopped working. It was the scientist’s father. He looked around curiously, as if he had forgotten something, pushing between us, peering short-sightedly into the corners of the room. When he didn’t find what he was searching for, he looked at us, searching our faces for what we all knew, although none of us knew how to tell him. As his eyes looked up to one of us, that one of us would look towards another helplessly, who would then shrug and turn his own gaze towards a third, who herself would look away with a small gesture of impatience towards a fourth, and in this manner his terrible expression was deflected between us like a beam of light, until, with a sudden violent gesture he began undo our work, shouting and dragging the bookcases away.
But the bookcases were too heavy; he took the books down from the shelves, but the piles of books proliferating at his feet made it impossible for him to drag the bookcases away; and when we, taking pity on him, began to help, we ourselves only blundered, getting in his way and in each other’s way; and when at last we had removed the bookcases, it still remained to pull the boards away from the boarded-up passageway; and with every new delay, he became more frantic and inconsolable, and we milled around and watched him, hardly knowing what to do.
Then, quite suddenly, the way was clear. I followed him down the passageway and down the stairs. The portal was still open, burning at the end of the flickering corridor. It was difficult even to move through its blue light; impossible to actually approach it. Through it we made out, for the last time, the scientist and her assistant making an adjustment to their apparatus, preparing to close the portal forever.
The scientist’s father raised his hand. He was crying inconsolably. The scientist, glancing up through the portal, stopped and raised hers. They stood there for a moment, looking at each other through the burning doorway. Then it flickered and went out.
Tom Payne lives in London. His work has previously appeared in Lighthouse and The Sun.