My brother's fever wouldn't leave
him or us and our house. My mother took how hot my brother
was from out of his mouth but his fever didn't go down.
She rubbed ice cubes on his forehead and lips that melted
on her fingers and dried on her hands and his face and he
cried. My brother reached his small hands up to his face
and shook his head back and forth and pushed away from us.
He wouldn't look at us or our family.
We weren't supposed to go into
my brother's room anymore or he wouldn't get any better
than he was then. His whole room was sick. His body swelled
up and made his cradle rock back and forth and rattle. My
mother and father and sister and me all stood in the doorway
to his sickroom where we could still look at him. My sister
told us that we had to stop the cradle from rocking back
and forth or my brother might tip over and fall and break.
My sister went into my brother's sickroom and carried my
brother out of there and through all the other rooms of
the house that weren't sick or dying or small but we still
had to go to the hospital.
My brother was going to die. We
drove him down a road that wasn't big enough to be paved
yet but that had men standing next to it hammering nails
into houses so other families would come and live there.
We drove past the school where my sister was supposed to
go with me next year but where she never did. We drove past
stores and gas stations and places to eat but none of them
had anything in them that would keep my brother alive.
We drove my brother to the hospital
that had the doctor and nurse that were supposed to save
my brother for us. My mother told the doctor and nurse that
we starved my brother but even so his fever didn't go down.
The doctor laid my brother down on the metal table and the
nurse fixed the table paper up. The doctor looked inside
my brother's ears and mouth and down his throat. He pulled
my brother's eyelids up with his thumb but they closed up
again when he let go of them. My brother squeezed his eyes
down tight into wrinkles and cried. He shook his head back
and forth so the doctor couldn't put anything else in his
mouth and the doctor put his hands down into his pockets
and he frowned.
My brother stopped breathing anymore
but his body was still hot when we touched him. My sister
pulled her hand back fast and told me it burned. The nurse
breathed out into my brother's mouth and pushed down on
his chest with her two fingers. My brother coughed and spit
and cried. My mother and father cried too. My brother reached
his small hands and arms out to us and my mother picked
him up and held him in our family.
We took my brother away from the
hospital alive but we didn't get very far away before my
brother stopped breathing again and we took him back home.
My mother carried my brother into our house but he wasn't
going to live there or with us anymore. But we had to keep
living even though my brother wasn't going to do it.
We had to wait until we weren't
going to die too. We stayed inside our family and house
and got ready for everybody else that was going to come
over to see my brother and the way he died. My father looked
out the windows and looked down into his hands. My mother
sat down in chairs and touched her hair and wiped her eyes.
My sister played with a doll that was supposed to make my
brother alive again but it never did.
The whole time we stayed inside
there there were people that came over to our house and
up to our windows and looked at us inside. They brought
over food in bowls and food on plates. They knocked on the
windows and knocked on the doors and they waited there.
They called us by our names but we never did say anything
back to them. We couldn't let any of them come inside yet.
They left food on the windowsill
and my mother would open the window far enough up to slide
the food inside our house and us. They left more food outside
the doors or on the porch and we would wait for them to
leave before we brought the food inside to eat it. They
would always look back at our house before they got into
their cars and drove away from our house and our family
and us. They were trying to see what we looked like and
did and the way that we lived there after my brother died.
We lived inside our house and
ourselves. We did not talk to each other even though my
mother would talk to herself. We got my brother and everything
else in our family and house ready for everybody else to
come over and inside and see it. People drove over from
Sweetwater and Chico and Riverland and they parked their
cars all up and down the road in front of our house and
in our front yard. They drove in from Killeen and Overton
and came inside our house to see my brother and us. They
drove up from Tyler and Sugar Land and Old Dime Box and
everybody wanted to talk about my brother and the way that
we laid him down in his casket.
This lady from Amarillo talked
about the dead people that we shared in our family--my brother
and her sister. This man from Hull Lake told me that we
die in families so that somebody remembers us and can tell
other people about it. This man from Brownland told my sister
and me that neither one of us was the dead one so we shouldn't
cry anymore. This lady from Kossetown told us that we can't
get away from our family or dying but that my mother and
father would get another brother for us.
But everybody also stopped talking
to us and looking at my brother and they all left my brother
and us and our family and house. My father told us that
my brother gone was enough for the rest of us to gather
ourselves and our stuff up and leave that place too. We
couldn't stay in our house or Mineola anymore. My brother
was dead and we couldn't live there either.