Letters from My Brothers
Dear Shirley, It’s been a long time. I’ve thought about you a lot over the past twenty-five years. About our last phone call. I asked you if you were mad at me. You said, “No, it’s not you.” But then I never heard from you again. Screwed-up thing to do. But I get it now. Mom’s on meltdown. Same time every year. Dad pretends he doesn’t remember. I do. So, yeah, Happy Birthday. I saw you driving once, on the main drag downtown. God, that must have been eighteen years ago. I flew up behind you, almost rammed your bumper. For a split-second, our eyes locked. You in your rear-view mirror. A casual glance at first. Then shock. Maybe fear. The light turned green, and you pulled away. Thought about blasting my horn, making you pull over. I wanted to see you shake. I was still angry then. You dropped a bomb and then fucked off, leaving us all to deal with it. I was so scared, Shirl. What you said to me that day. Doc had to put me on meds for anxiety and depression. I was at home, in the garage, working on my Rod. You caught me off guard. You never just show up, and never alone. I said I didn’t know about Dad abusing you. I said I didn’t remember stuff, about us. Then you brought up Laura, too. Zero to sixty, Shirl. No ’chutes. No sand traps. I couldn’t deal with it. You know what they do to people like that? A guy in the car club got accused of molesting his kid. They kicked him out. The look in their eyes. Hatred. Disgust. That guy’s fucked. His life is over. Dad told me you went to see him, too. Said he told you he’d rather drive off a cliff than “talk” to someone about it. You wanted him to see a counsellor? He was pretty wasted that day. Remember when we worked at the Optical, and we’d go to their house for lunch every week? Barb’s red kitchen? Red walls, red shelves, red ornaments, red teapot. Dad even painted the fucking ceiling red. They’re not there anymore. Moved to one of those fancy gated places after Barb got sick.