I remember when I found this picture in a shoebox, shoved in with a scattered smattering of summer snapshots and school portraits, and of course it brought back a bunch of bad memories. I remember hiding from my brother in that closet because I knew when he found me – which he would – he’d beat me up over something I said – which he did. It was just brotherly love, of course - none of it did any real damage – and of course I forgave him – seventy times seven even; I remembered. He was my brother, after all; and as we grew older he started looking up to me more and more and more until he shrank into himself whenever I was around. Why wouldn’t he?
Still, I had a camera sitting on the desk next to me and I thought, "I never ever want to forget this." I was sitting down, half-dejected, leaning back into the wall, and, with the bottom of the camera leaning into my fat lip, I snapped the pic. After I got it developed I slid it into the shoebox because even then I knew you needed to keep your memories safe.
But that’s not the only bad memory. No, there’s the time where Dad was digging through my closet because a neighborhood kid told him what was in there to get back at me for… something. I forget. It doesn’t matter though; the point is that he found it and punished me. I never did really see eye-to-eye with that kid much.
And then who can forget when I was digging through the closet myself, tearing it apart to find that one thing? I don’t even remember what I was looking for. Was it a shirt? A scarf? A slot machine? Who knows. It was important, though; I had to find it right then or else something bad would happen, or maybe something good wouldn’t happen, or maybe I was just assuming the worst or something. Who knows? I certainly don’t. I can’t even remember if I found it. I don’t recall if it even mattered. But I tried really, really hard; I can remember that much. It was very, very important – deadly serious even – that I find whatever it was, so much so that when my brother came in to tell me something I yelled at him for interrupting me, and then he flopped it onto my bed – I remember now, he had found what I was looking for; it was the keys to my car – and walked away, hunched over, like Igor, and of course I felt bad, but I was late for whatever it was I was late for. I’d apologize later, I told myself, and of course he forgave me. Why wouldn’t he? I was his brother, his equal; no better, no worse; and seventy times out of seven he’d bend over backwards to make sure I knew that he loved me. I always remembered that, and I always appreciated that, and I always tried to help him through his many rough patches because I knew he’d do the same for me. I could see it in his eye whenever he took my hand up; he was desperately waiting for the day when I’d be digging through the scraps, looking for something to subsist on, and he’d waltz over and casually toss me the key to my salvation.
"Just like that?" I’d say.
"Just like that."