Why I skipped school to visit my brother in prison
A Cambridge University study circulated through email chains, claiming humans only needed to see the first and last letters of a word in order to comprehend its meaning. Bsailcly the oderr of the mdilde ltetrs deosnt mteatr. We learn this in the dark, from a guest speaker, in the auditorium. My eyes are drawn to the exit sign, lit like fire.
It’s a house, our old A frame on Grant street, turned on it’s side, which it was, by the end, and the dark blue door I ran out of, screaming, yet looking back, struck stupid, at the horror.
But it isn’t true (Casey googles it, whispers): there is no such Cambridge Study. While reporters are busy tracking down the hoax’s origin, we are bored learning about the supposed phenomenon for Psych 10 extra credit. I stare hard at the door to will my disappearance, needing so badly to leave.
It’s an eye, a cat’s pupil, our cat’s: Belly, his eyes, his fur, on fire, running through the living room, as I watched from the front porch, my brother cackling.
The lecturer’s enthusiasm grates, as he dances under a powerpoint, daring anyone to misinterpret the stirred-up words. It doesn’t matter what’s inside! I cross my eyes at the exit sign. As long as the beginning and end are right! I look through the sign, as it glows forever on.
A lighter, a butane lighter, my brother’s, the one he’d rigged and called his “crackhead flame” and showed me how it shot fire high like a fountain, saying “Betcha I can hit something ten feet away”, and me saying, “What’s a crackhead?” and him saying:
“I’ll prove it.”
“Anything could be inside,” the man on stage dares us, “and it wouldn’t even matter.”
Illustration by Vincent Tourigny