When my brother was young, I fed him fruit that fell from the trees in our backyard. What I fed him wasn’t really fruit, but the buds of what would be sweet in the spring, and the not-fruit didn’t really fall from trees in our backyard, because there was no backyard. Back then, we lived in an apartment complex with studded walls and a pool that yawned and stretched past the pale sun. The children all thought the pool was haunted, including me, because somebody’s son drowned in it in the 60s or the 80s or some other era we saw through blurred television screens. We all knew the water was always awake: green and unmoving, glass-eyed and watching.
My brother was the smallest of us all, and the most afraid. Of drowning, I thought, or of the stillness that would follow. I knew he was young because he still believed in ghosts and spirits and mothers with mouths that said no. My brother was most like himself when he was with me: always hungry, always swallowing. The day my brother stopped being young was the day our mother left him poolside in midsummer. On that day, the sun was a rotting orange. I watched him sink like fruit, surfacing as white foam. I watched the water swallow him without ever having been hungry.
When my brother was young, so was I. I fed him not-fruit from not-trees and he ate and ate. That was before he knew wholeness in the arms of a mother, before he became the stillness of water.