Gone

Sometimes I watch the news from back home late at night. 

I wade through random snippets of videos and articles about a weave robbery and a soldier coming home, searching.
Sometimes I’ll walk by a TV and a headline will catch my eye and I’ll stop and watch and won’t even realize I’m holding my breath until I finally let it out, dizzy at the effort and weak with relief that this story, this headline does not belong to me. Not today.
A body is found, abandoned. And I think that I’ll call the news station, and that if I do I’ll be crying before whatever beleaguered, coffee addled producer I finally get picks up the phone. And I imagine I tell him I’ll give him a statement- an exclusive- if he’ll just tell me if it’s him or not.
In my saner moments, I remind myself that I can’t do this. I can’t live like this.
He’s gone, I tell myself, always wincing at it no matter how many times I’ve had the conversation with me. He’s gone.
Gone is a funny word. It’s one of those words that’s been co-opted to use elsewhere, the thing someone says when you’ve terminally lost someone, because somehow gone is a softer blow than dead, though they both mean the same. You’ve lost them.
But my gone means left.
Disappeared.
On purpose.
The dream is always the same. We’re on the roof and we’re kids. We’re sitting on the scratchy, gray tiles talking about absolutely nothing. The sky is a swath of Easter pastels and the air around us is sticky and sweet as though you could carve it. Without warning he slips and tumbles down the roof, screaming my name as he goes. I scramble on my hands and knees until they bleed, grabbing at the last pieces of him I can see. He goes over the side. I make it to the edge and peer over, only to find a vast blackness where the ground should be. He’s fallen into it. He’s gone.
My little brother is gone.
But my gone means left.
Disappeared.
The only thing I can’t forgive.

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