graphite palms by erica yeager

            The times I saw my brother’s cock I can count on one hand, not that I do most days. I feel okay calling it a cock instead of a penis or a dick or something because for me that’s what it was, the times I saw it. It was always being held in a hand by someone and I was always watching from my bed across the room, pretending I was asleep.

            Learning to ignore his growth was how I survived. When we were younger it showed itself through sleepy pained moans–his legs getting longer. As he grew into his weird new body I felt my own skin changing. Started growing fur and hips and lengthening like a stretching cat. Later, though, the ignoring turned to earplugs while he mumbled breaths to his girlfriend through the phone, back facing me, occasionally cussing me out after, quietly, to himself. Damn sister always here. No friends can’t go out. Have to share a room.

            This would never happen for me. Only hips happened and Father wouldn’t let me near the phone or let me have boys over. Between him and my brother my brother was a better outlet even though it scared me to listen to him, see his power over the girls he spoke to. His whisper into a telephone at night led to scrappy knocks at our window and this is the part where I made myself stop looking and tried, always, to stop my hands from becoming a clutch of birds between my thighs.

* * *

            Sometimes, when one sees a mountain, they can’t consider that the mountains have backs. Like the moon, one becomes accustomed to their view of the rising and falling Appalachian humps, some with wild little names like Bear or Hawk. Not the really wild names that strike one with fear, but still.

            This one-sided view from my window, these mountains: this was where my stories could build themselves, could weave themselves into graceful knots. These were stories without my brother:

            There was once a Princess and she wasn’t locked in a stone tower and she didn’t have anything but a little cave and a brook and the woods and the mountains. She also had a Mother who wasn’t even evil she was sweet and good to her and brought her little jars of jelly. She knew how to hunt and fish and sew. Her hair was long and black and she tied feathers into it to make her quicker.

            One day the Princess came across a man stranded fallen in the woods, curled in a small pool of blood. He was passed out but his chest rose up and down slightly, moving the leaves about him like tiny waves. She recognized immediately that he had been shot by an arrow. As she knelt before him, avoiding wetting her pale feet. She shook. The arrow had been hers. She rolled him gently to examine the wound, trying to ignore his sounds of pain. His hair was matted to his face with sweat, but underneath that she could see his features. They were dark and beautiful like the sandy bed of the creek by her cave and his eyes were deep brown and fading.

            When she ran back to her cave, the pads of her feet pounding against pine needles and crunching leaves, I followed her. The cave door was still open.

            I gathered the tools I’d need to help him and walked back slow, tired. Running back home had hurt and I honestly didn’t even know how to save him. My mother, really, was not there, was dead and my father, while good at keeping us fed and clothed considered us troubles.

            When I got there he was lying on his back–he was floating in the leaves around him, floating. The wound was getting worse in that way that said I couldn’t save him alone. He had turned pale in the span of time I took to get the stuff but the color returned to his eyes and he started groaning at me to please please call somebody but I said I couldn’t use the phone wasn’t allowed and sprinted off into the woods feeling my hands shake at my sides feeling my face turn purple with exhaustion and feeling the heat prickle out of me and the briars scraping into my knees and shins turning them rusty against my white shorts. The Princess bolted past her cave this once just too afraid and onto the tarmac road that led to the other side of her mountain. She stopped at the top of the hill, where the road rose to its peak, and threw up water and bread into a ditch on the side of the road.

            The town spread out in front of her sparse but bustling; a farm here, a church there, all seeming to reach up to her from the valley below. When the Princess tried to step down the hill she felt her whole body vibrate with intent.

* * *

            There is no getting past that acre of handwriting, nothing more I can say that other stories don’t. I won’t go I know this but at least somewhere inside me I can feel the dent of the bleeding man’s cock thanking me for saving him, can flood for someone else not just my brother. There has got to be something else.
 
 
Erica Yeager is twenty five and lives near one of those big cities brushing the Atlantic, but not in one. She does not hate dogs at all. She once drank three Four-Loko type drinks in the span of one night. Erica Yeager is drinking ginger ale, praying to porcelain.

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