Summer came late the year that Anthony died. I moved all my things into the attic and locked the door, coming out only for bathroom breaks or when I felt too cooped up to stay indoors. I avoided everyone and everything, dreading to hear the name I was trying to escape, the name I woke up shouting at night when the nightmares would shake me awake.
I remember Mama would push trays of food under the door and try to coax me out with soft words, and sometimes even threats, but I wouldn't budge. I refused to leave even the small comfort of my aloneness.
Instead I spent my days wading through the dust-covered photographs of our family albums. They lived in boxes in the attic, next to discarded car parts and old gameboard sets. There was Grandma and Grandpa young and and newly married, Papa in the Vietnam war, Mama as a young girl in her debutant gown. The sepia-toned pictures were stained by time and by fingerprints. There were pictures, too, of my brother before he died, dating back to his birth when he was just a pathetic little thing with a scrunched-up face. His were all in color. For some reason, it did not bother me to look at pictures of him, so long as I was alone.
My sickly white hands stood out against his senior portrait, the pinkie and index fingers dirty with Cheeto crumbs. Remembering the story of Midas and the golden touch, I touched my brother's smiling face, so proud in his cap and gown, and watched him turn orange.