where neither seraphim nor raindrops go

"Oh that boy's a slag
The best you ever had
Is just a memory and those dreams
Weren't as daft as they seem
My love when you dream them up
Oh, where did you go?
Falling about
You took a left off Last Laugh Lane
You just sounded it out
You're not coming back again."
Fluorescent Adolescent by Arctic Monkeys

last edited April 27, 2009

I imagine winding back the churning wheels of time, of flipping the hourglass just before the last particle of sand fell through. If I could go back several months before, to the summertime. I'm sitting at my desk, trying to hear my stereo over the sound of the gardeners' leafblower next door. The summer heat is also unbearable with the window closed. We don't have air conditioning, and so all day our windows sit, allowing the breeze to pass through but also the noise. Flies are buzzing around the doorways and I'm too lazy to swat them down. If I lean back in my chair a little bit, I'll be able to look through my open door into my brother's room, where he is sitting at his desk, hunched over, working on a summer assignment.

Across the hallway wasn't so far a distance to travel. And yet I rarely made the journey- deemed it unnecessary. He wouldn't have appreciated my company- he was wrapped up in his work, too busy to entertain his kid sister.

But across the hallway was only five steps. I could have made the five steps. I could have forsaken what might come after, I could have thrown caution to the wind, stepped upon that tightrope and made my way. It would have been easy, especially compared with what I must do now to reach him.

I'm standing on a cliff, watching as the other side seems to get farther and farther away, carrying Vincent, my brother, with it. His back is turned to me- he's not watching as I stand there helplessly, gripping the dirt with my toes, trying to see that invisible bridge stretching between us, trying to reach him. For what? Answers. Clarification. Maybe for just a simple conversation.

But it's too far. The distance is too wide. The drop is frightening. I can't reach him, not without the danger of remaining there with him, my back turned on the people I once knew.

I walk along the road, steps echoing across the sidewalk in the night. Each street lamp is like an old friend, drawing me forward and forward and forward. I reach the city park, by now empty and devoid of the people you would trust. The only ones left now are the coyotes and the graverobbers.

When I was younger I'd play in the grass, crawling on my hands and knees. My mother used to hate that I'd come home with grass stains all of the front of my new jeans.

The trees look like monsters in the dark, their shadows stretch across the playground, branches reaching out for something that isn't there. I'd climb them if I weren't so tired.

I veer off of the path eventually, turning away from the park benches where the homeless sleep without warmth, onto the damp grass and into the woods. They're not really woods, just darkened hallways where the only sound is your feet on the wood and your only companion a ghost. I walk along the invisible roads, reaching out and feeling the world as if it were alive, more alive than it's ever been.

I don't know what I'm looking for, I don't know what I'm looking at. Eventually I'll hit a long-abandoned graveyard, step in a surprise mud puddle, find some lost and forgotten ghost searching for salvation. Maybe that's what I need. Saving, or perhaps a resolution to this story. At this point, I just want to call it quits, put a pause on this pain and allow it to all float away as if on a winding river. By the time it gets to sea, I won't be able to remember it anymore.

I won't go looking for his grave. I don't know where he was buried. While my relatives were watching as he was lowered into the grave, I was sitting in the dark in my room, listening to Invalid Litter Dept. as Cedric cried out "on my way, nails broke and fell, into the wishing well" and the music swelled and crashed all around me and I was at peace. Or as at peace as I could be.

Seeing the place his body is won't give me any sort of relief, anyway. That shell isn't his anymore.

I reach inside of my jacket pocket and pull out the cigarette lighter I used once. Only once, and immediately regretted it. I light it and hold it up above my head, like a giant lantern, to frighten away the heartless creatures of the night. It sheds no light at all, merely burns my thumb. The pain is a welcome feeling, much better than cold emptiness.

My brother took all of these advanced classes. And I followed in his footsteps because I wanted to be able to show my parents that I was smart too- wasn't I? I wanted to show my parents the better grades I got, that I wouldn't be so completely overwhelmed by AP Physics or AP US History. I could do it. But the test scores my brother recieved weren't something I could match so easily. No matter how much I studied, no matter how many SAT prep courses I could have taken, I didn't think I had a chance in hell of getting the same score as he did. And after skipping all of my classes for three weeks, I don't think I have a chance of continuing on in them.

But my parents are beyond impressing. No one can replace their beautiful, dead boy now.

The flame flickers weakly in my hand. I hold it higher. I close my eyes. I take in a deep breath of black magic. In the distance, cars. It should be too late for them, but I can hear them. Maybe they're looking for something. Someone.

A twig snaps, I drop the lighter, and the flame goes out.

I begin to run, away from the cars, which have gotten louder. I run as fast as I can, ignoring the fact I was always horrible at P.E. and I don't have a whole lot of stamina. I ignore my hurried, rushed breathing, the jagged wheeze jarring out of my throat. I'm stepping through mud, on headstones, over dead bodies and caskets, over the living and the dirt, running for what I hope and think is the end. I just want out of all this, I just want my brother back, so I can know that everything will be good again, everything will be right. I'll go back to being the inferior sister, I swear I will. I'll go back to working my ass off with my homework, if only to bring him back. Please, please, just bring him...

I run up a hill, covered in long grasses and flowers and weeds. At the top, I halt, head tilted back, eyes watching the tip of the sky for a sign, any sign. The stars shine brightly overhead, as if mocking me. Are you mocking me? You're mocking me, I know it! Stop! I don't want to be made fun of!

I want Vincent back. I watch as the lights move past me in a blurry, dizzying fashion. My eyes are unfocused. I close them, feeling tired and nauseous.

Under my eyelids I can see my whole life, rewinding like a cassette tape.

We're on vacation in the Grand Canyon. I'm tired, I take a break, sitting on a rock on the side of the trail. Vincent sprints ahead of me, looking back only once to laugh at me.

Rewind rewind, backspace backspace until we get back to when we still lived at the old house, where me and him shared a room and a bunk bed. We're sitting on the rug. He's playing with his Legos, building a plane. I'm playing with my beanie babies, talking to myself.

Inside the car. We're teens, arguing over which music to play, who gets shotgun.

Walking home together from school. Talking about nothing and everything. Nothing important, everything unimportant.

I'm tagging along with him and his friends. I feel awkward and out of place. It's hot, and we're walking across an asphalt parking lot to the cheap Chinese restaurant close to our high school. I'm a freshman with very few friends, none of which would come with me to go eat Chinese food. I hang out with my older brother, who, with his own friends and social circle, should not have the time or patience for me, but somehow does anyway.

He used to sing a lot- he didn't have that great of a voice, but he sang anyway. My parents introduced us to music at a very young age. Instead of sitting us in front of the television to watch Barney or Sesame Street, they'd put on Bob Dylan, the Beatles, the Rolling Stones. And those were the songs that stuck with us forever. Especially Vincent. I stuck to new music, listening to the radio stations for the new Red Hot Chili Peppers single, while he listened to my parent's old CDs, dancing about the house in his goofy way, singing along.

But in the beginning- when we were just children, just babies, just kids, I remember opening my new-blue eyes to his face, leaning over mine, grinning. I was his sister.

And he was my brother.

"Everyone in the house is in bed but me. I am writing this in the luminescence of the television, and I am so sorry if this is now difficult to read, Sasha, but my hand is shaking so much, and it is not out of weakness that I will go to the bath when I am sure that you are asleep, and it is not because I cannot endure. Do you understand? I am complete with happiness, and it is what I must do, and I will do it. Do you understand me? I will walk without noise, and I will open the door in darkness, and I will"
an excerpt from the book Everything is Illuminated, by Jonathan Safran Foer


A/N: It's over! That was a doozy.

Ugh, my computer was being difficult, and on top of that I had- have- a lot of homework to complete. So. I should get to that soon. Or eat. Eating sounds good.

Oh, and uh, before I forget. I had a bit of difficulty thinking up names for this story, so I ended up using some baby name sites. That was fun.

Mia- sea of bitterness
Jason- healer
Vincent- conquering

A lot of the memories of Vincent are based on my own. I think I wrote this story because I secretly want my brother to die. xP (just kidding... i think)

And despite everything, I think this is my favorite chapter.

EDIT 4/27: Amazing. It's edited. This chapter was changed rather considerably, it took me a bit of time to edit it, as I had to completely rewrite some parts...

Anyway, I edited this entire story because I knew, from the moment I first posted it, that I would have to. It was too short in some places, the action was choppy. So I stuck it on the backburner for a later date. And then it came, I edited/revised, and wnsnrg is bigger and better. I'm rather tired. Thanks for reading.

Review, please?