Michael Kimball
Interview with Michael Kimball

The Way the Family Got Away

Living Anymore in Mineola

to Section 2

     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.

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