written by Kevin Hyde | illustrated by Christopher Wilson
That the river and nothing other took my brother stayed stuck with me. River water can whorl brown and sharp into waves, little pyramids of water raised like hackles on the back of the river when it’s up. Drowned. Return to dust, per the priest, but how my brother went wet, into mud, to sponge up the silt with his skin. My mourning seeped for four days out of my body and evaporated into the household air and coated the walls of my room with a slick, gelid gloss before I put my senses right. I would wring him out like a rag, I thought, wring out the wet and in with the new. And out of the ground with a spade, out of the casket with a knife and a bar, into my arms, he went, hard and heavy and dead. I said my penance beforehand in the church before the monstrance with my hands taloned down on the creaking pew’s brown wood, but You should help me who helps himself, to Lazarize my brother back and for good into the air of this world. And by flashlight I brought him dragging his feet to the mill to be torqued. Stiff as a board he lay in the sawdust, alongside my spade, his suit lending him the look of a fresh-faced man-about-town. Reverse the sawdust through the mechanism of the mill and yield a tree again, reverse the course of water through drowned lungs and yield a man again, thus my faith in the constancy of matter suggested to me. He was at rest and would stay at rest, but I thought, in the attitude of affirmation, I will put him in motion and he will stay in motion. Bathed and desecrated by the tea-brown river water, my own brother will be waked into movement fully dry and wrung out by a machine of my own arrangement. I levered the smooth iron clamps down upon his thin wrists as though I were trapping him in the stocks. His body slumped in the attitude of desperate worship, head hung between his shoulders, legs in disarrayed genuflection beneath the dead weight of his torso. There were possible worlds where he did not fall into the river and continued to thrive, or did fall, but survived, or did fall upon a river miraculously frozen by an arctic wind, or did fall into water that was not water as wet as our water, but dry brown powder, or did fall and fell through the river, past the river, to its antipode on the other side, to land safely upon firm banks, or did fall to run with the river its path to the ocean and settle, finally, on the grainy hump of a sand bar’s sill. So praise this world where my brother’s legs spin slowly on the back end of the machine then blur together like the blades of a plane’s propeller just before take-off.
About the artists:
Christopher Wilson can be found at www.chrisxcreations.com
Kevin Hyde’s fiction has appeared in Parcel and Big Fiction and online at Gigantic and McSweeney’s, among other places. He lives in Oakland, CA.