In the car, my stomach span like the drum of a washing machine. There was a headache starting up in the centre of my forehead, burning outward, stretching purposefully toward my temples. I was glad Will did not talk to me and I closed my eyes, fingers on the corners of my eyebrows, willing the pain to fade, the nausea to forget about me. I heard gravel under the wheels, felt the car stop, Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata dying too soon on the premium sound system. I was not wearing make-up, I had not plucked my eyebrows, I knew there were a few antennas of hair atop my head, and it all made me so angry at myself I wanted to kick a dent in that stupidly expensive car.
“Madam,” said Will, opening my door. With an effort to keep my stomach from heaving I got up and swayed, seeing with my eyes the black world I always carried inside. Hard hands caught me and remained locked around my biceps until I saw the sky again. Such a lying blue.
“What the hell is this?” I asked, realising where we were, but Will just walked in front of me, with steps too pretty for a male, and I followed him because I had nowhere else to go.
“Here he is. Hope it was worth the twenty-four years’ wait,” he said, pointing.
“What a shitty, shitty joke, even for someone like you,” I said, unsheathing my teeth, but my eyes fell into the grooves and curves and peaks of that name, carved in granite above a photograph of Mirko as I thought he would grow up to be, only thinner—above those dates that made no sense. Red carnations poked out of a metal vase attached to the headstone, and there was grass around it, as thick as green hair, and someone had left a card under a stone placed in front of it. I removed the stone; opened the card. Still miss you every day it said in careful letters under the drawing of a sad-faced alien. I threw it down as though it had scalded my fingertips.
“You sick fuck!” My scream hurt my throat; I lifted the stone and threw it at him. It bounced off his forehead, leaving a cut that immediately looked old, swollen and circled with purple, as though it had been there from before.
“You still have a good aim,” he said, a blade of ice in his voice. “But I’m not my brother.” He picked up the stone and flung it back at me. The skin on my shoulder stung and I placed my hand on it, expecting blood. But pain was a liar, too, on that day.
“Why did you do this? Why didn’t you tell me?” I screamed, and here was the blood, only in my throat, pushing me to retch.
“You can’t always get all you want for free. Being part of things has a price,” he said, his words heavy and calm.
“You know nothing about me!”
“No, I don’t. You only talked to Mirko; never to me.”
“You’re not telling me you were jealous, are you?” I laughed an ugly laugh. “You are?”
“What? Gay? A faggot? A poof? Go on...”
“I didn’t mean-”
“Does everything just have one level to you?” he interrupted me.
“You behaved like a shit when we were kids. You still do. Why would I have talked to you?”
“Oh, of course, you were the only one who had problems. You still are.” His lips twisted, taking nothing off the symmetry of his face.
“You are nobody to me. I’m leaving,” I said, stomping on the gravel toward the road, trying to remember what bus stopped near the graveyard. My mother had always driven there on our visits to my grandparents, to which I had been dragged under threats concerning my tree-house access and evening curfew.
“I’m not going to let you make your big, stupid gesture and bail out, you little coward,” Will said to my back. “I made a promise to him. You’re not going to fuck with it.”
“I found him. He was still there,” Will said, and I heard the change in his breathing, the heaviness of it. “Just for a moment. And he gave it to you. To you. So, no, you’re not going anywhere. Not until I know I’ve kept my word.”
I shook my head, my headache turning into a crown too small for me. I closed my eyes.
“What happened to him?”