We're at the subway station, me and my brother. His hand is on my shoulder so we don't get separated. I'm eight years old. We're close to the tracks and I'm staring at them, thinking, calculating.
"Step back," my brother snaps at me, grabbing my shirt and yanking me a step back from the tracks.
I'm silent for a few seconds before I look up at him and ask, "What would happen if you jumped in front of the train?"
"Why the fuck would you jump?" My brother is twelve going on fifteen. He swears and drinks and wears backwards baseball caps and listens to rap music. He's my hero. He hates me.
"I wouldn't jump, I'm just asking." I look down at my feet, brand new Nikes that my brother stole for me. They aren't the right size.
"What do you think would happen?" He's angry with me again. He's always angry. He hates me.
"You'd die," I say. I already knew this before I asked my brother. I just want his confirmation.
"Yeah, that's right. You'd die. You wanna die?"
"I don't know," I mumble. The pain suprises me mostly because I wasn't expecting it. My cheek stings. I stagger backward a couple steps. He hit me. People are too busy getting onto the train that has just pulled up to notice. My brother grabs me by the arm and pulls me on after him. He finds a seat and offers it to me instead of taking it himself. I know this is his way of apologizing. My brother never really apologizes. I take the seat.
"You don't want to die, man. You're eight fucking years old. Tell me you don't want to die."
"I don't.," I say. I'm looking at my Nikes.
"Look at me," he says. I raise my eyes to his level.
"I don't want to die." He nods and we're quiet. There's nothing much to talk about after that.