Dolcefarniente

"So." He eyes me, coughing soft in his fist. "You understand the problem, here?"

I blink. He keeps looking at me, trying to read my face. I'm not sure if he's mad or not and that makes me worry and twist my hands in little fists by my side. I try not to really meet his eyes, but kind of focus on the fold of his ear, or the way his nostrils flare when he's lying.

"Lee. Look at me." He pinches my chin and twists it up. "I want you to stay out of this. I'm trying to help. You know that."

The corners of my eyes get hot and sharp, the breath rattling static in my nose and throat, and I know I'm going to cry. He sees this and lets go, disgusted. I swipe a sleeve over my lip, pinch the edge in my eyes while he rubs his temples. My brother pauses, indexes poised like a telekinetic.

"Tell you what," he concedes, "I found a word you might like. How's that?"

I'm flushed red and I sniffle as I peek at him over a grubby sleeve.

He's smiling now, eyes twinkling like those last minutes didn't ever happen. He fans his hands like a magician. "Dolcefarniente."

I guess I'm supposed to be impressed, which I kind of am, but I know he's just teasing me and I glare at him so he knows it.

"It means 'delicious inactivity'."

He's bent over at my height and grinning. "Literally, 'it’s sweet to do nothing'. What? No good?" His smile twitches lower. "Please, Lee," he sighs, "It's not me." He straightens, watching something noble and good past my head. "It's not for you, or me, or dad, even."

His eyes search the dust sky, the splintered driveway, the gnarled, rust wounded swing set. "It's justice - that's really the only way to describe it."

This time he smiles a bit when he turns down at me. The sideways slice of it edges up the corners of his eyes in joyous crinkles. The dull camouflage of his jacket wavers hesitantly in the breeze.

I swallow. Really look in his face for the first time. "An eye for an eye and no wonder justice is blind."

The End

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