by Mark Rentfro

In the cool green darkness of our bedroom, my brother says everything will be all right. In the hall-lit half-dark of my top bunk, David says everything. From beneath me, he says it’s OK to dream, and I do. I dream of flying to the end of our street, gliding over the pavement, like swimming under water. Slow and breathless, I float to the surface. As I cross the street, float over houses, I try to swim back down, but I’m falling awake.

In the dark green coolness of my bedroom, our brother snores us both awake. I’ve been dreaming again of float-flying away. His clothes are in the bedroom next door, but I cannot sleep without him in the bunk beneath mine. He moved back in and says everything will be OK, all right?

In manhood I lie awake to listen for my brother. My wife asks is everything all right? I dream of David flying down the street outside our mother’s house before he floats away. I chase behind him, too-big-shoe flopping in the Nikes I took from his closet. I raise my arms and hope to let the wind fill the cotton sails of his bottom-bunk shirt. Let it lift me, following behind him, up, up and away.

Still I hear him cough-snoring in his sleep, calling from below.

When David was my brother, we spent whole summers of afternoons playing basketball in the driveway. Another thing we shared: a transistor radio that our father left behind. We walked the neighborhood evenings, connected at the ears, listening to baseball games pitch-perfect in their approximation of the infinite. On my brother’s right-hand side in my left ear, I heard action, crowd reaction, and the announcer’s call in the not-quite-simultaneous way of radio. Crack, cheer, call. Crack, cheer, call. Pause ten seconds for station identification.

If summer was infinite, the fall was interminable – a return to the punctuation of school. Weekend commas. Christmas vacation semi-colon. A run-on sentence filled with things to forget. David came home just once from college. At Thanksgiving there were Cowboys and Redskins. Lions and Bears. David left without saying goodbye, early Friday morning. On his way home, he found himself lost in our father’s car. I woke to the still, first David-less silence of eternity. I dreamed my mother told me a story, and I flew out the door, floating down the street, and David called from below.

 

Photo by J Lee via Pexels