I did not grow up with my brother.
Three days ago, we were on the top deck of a ocean-side restaurant in the Florida Keys, eating fried key lime pie and seasoned straight-cut fries. I had eaten a brownie twenty minutes beforehand.
“My grandpa called Dad and asked for $100, just for school supplies. He didn’t pay child support, so it wasn’t too much to ask.”
“Do you like hot sauce?” he said.
“Hell yeah,” I said.
“Dad said, ‘I have to think of my family.'”
My brother brought over three hot sauce bottles from the bar. One was called Zombie Repellent, the other was called 100% Pain, and I can’t remember what the third one was called.
My self begins to spill out of my eyes. “I remember we had this picture of you–we still do, actually–hanging on the wall. And we had this picture of you, holding me as a baby.” I begin to weep, and until then I didn’t know how deeply I was wounded. “I could tell, just by looking at your face, that you really loved me. And I knew I had a brother that loved me, but I didn’t know him.”
My mouth is on fire.
We tried 100% Pain first.
“You know this is the longest we’ve ever spent together?”
The girl at the bar–I met her at the marina a few days beforehand–told me to eat some sugar while she got me some Half & Half creamer cups. My brother was laughing at me as he stuck some 100% Pain-laced fries into his mouth.
“It’s sad,” he says. I tell him that we’re making up for it now.
“My celebrity crush is Lindsey Stirling,” he said.
I nodded. “Yeah! She’s so talented. And hot. What do you think about Jennifer Lawrence?”
He nodded. “She’s got the voice of a chain smoker without actually being a chain smoker. And she’s pretty average looking, like an actual person.”
He laughed. “This is awesome. I’m discussing girls with my sister.”
“I love you. Whenever you need to clear your head, just let us know and come on down,” he says.
He kisses my forehead, and I don’t remember if I looked at him or not, but I headed into MIA, leaving longing to stick in between my ribs.