One


I was sitting on the porch when Dav fell from the tree. He broke his arm in three places and his neck in one. I watched him lie spread-eagled on the grass with his mouth open and his eyes rolled back into his head. Fifteen minutes later Kitty came out to take in the in the washing and she screamed. She told me to call the police. I went inside and dialed 911 and told them that my brother was dead.

We waited for the ambulance. It was that awkward time between an occurrence and its consequences and we had nothing to do but wait. The sky was blue and looked like the sea. The wind was hot and dry. Everything simmered in the summer heat. Cicadas chirped. Everyone in our neighbourhood was asleep; nobody came to see; nobody noticed.

I stepped off the porch and lay on the grass. It smelled like it was dying. It felt prickly against the back of my arms and legs. Somebody's telephone rang in the distance. I watched the clouds drift like waves above me; they scattered in the sky.

I closed my eyes and listened to the cicadas, and the sound of Kitty crying. The telephone had stopped ringing. When I opened them Kitty was standing above me and I could see up her red skirt. She wasn't crying anymore but I could see the tear tracks along her cheeks like slug trails.

When the ambulance arrived I stood up and walked back to the porch. A policeman turned up two minutes later and started asking Kitty questions about Dav. What was his name? Who was he to you? How old is he? Did you see the incident? How did it occur? How long ago? Are you alright? And your name?

Dav. My brother. Twenty-three. No. Fell out of the tree. Twenty minutes. No. Katherine. She gave him all the right answers one after another but it seemed like she wasn't really concentrating at all.

"Pete saw," she said. "I was inside, but Pete saw."

The Policeman turned to look at me before going back to questioning Kitty. I watched the ambulance men wrap Dav up in a body bag and toss him onto their stretcher. The leaves on the tree rustled innocently in the hot, slow, summer breeze.

"Where are your parents?" the Cop asked Kitty.

"Work."

She gave him their telephone numbers when he asked. The ambulance men hoisted Dav's body into the ambulance. Kitty's red skirt was fluttering around her knees.

"How old are you?"

"Sixteen."

"Well, I'm sorry," he said, and he looked like he meant it.

He left with a promise to call later that evening, then followed the ambulance. Kitty and I were still standing outside.

"Whose numbers did you give him?" I asked.

"Dav's and some made up bullshit."

"Why did you tell him he was your brother?"

"Less questions that way."

A pause, then:

"What happens next?"

She shrugged. "I don't know. Where shall we go?"

"The sea," I said.

"Okay."