I slammed the door behind me and bolted it shut. Pulling a chain, I turned on the bare bulb on the ceiling and was consumed by its harsh light. My breath was trapped somewhere inside me and I couldn't tease it out. I panted like a dog, the tears pouring down my face and blurring my vision.
When my breathing had more or less stabilized, I walked over to the cracked mirror hanging on the wall and fished my resemblance out from its distorted depths. After I'd stared so long that my face was reduced to nothing but shapes, I went to the corner where the albums were stored and looked for the most recent album. The one dated 1983, when my brother was still eighteen. The same year he graduated. The same summer he and some friends decided to go swimming one night after getting drunk on Father's whiskey, and they dared him to swim the whole lake. The album in which he was still alive, still my brother.
He should've never drowned. Captain of the swim team, four trophies fighting for dominance on his bookshelf. He should've never died that way, prey for the waters he knew so well. But he was very drunk and the night was colder than most nights and no one paid attention when he went under and didn't come back up. They must've thought he was horsing around -- he was always good for that.
You see, Anthony was the clown in the family, the one to put ketchup in your milk and toothpaste in your hair when you weren't paying attention. Jane doesn't remember him that well, having been just five when he died. To her, he's nothing but a name and a few murky memories to tie to the face in photographs. And I am aware now that she has resented me for this all these years, though she would never admit it.
I settled myself down against the wall and opened the album. I looked into my brother's face and tried to discover anew how his nose resembled my flat nose I hated, how his eyes were the most incredible shade of blue, the same blue you see just as you wake up and the first thing your eyes land on is that big, earth-filling sky outside of your window.
He was going to teach me to swim. I was deathly afraid of the lake, and he would have to drag me out to the shore, but I refused to go deeper than where the water went past my ankles. Holding me over the waters, he'd wade out. I remember feeling weightless in his arms, hanging in mid air like a half-finished sentence.