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If they would let me, I would go back in time, wrap my brother up in swaddling and place him in a basket to float him down the Nile for protection—not protection from Ramses but from his own choices. I would become the red blood cells forming his heart in utero. I would boss around the other cells, telling them to patch up that hole they’d carelessly left there. The one that would later weaken his already tired heart. Or I’d organize and get a union going. Those cells would feel protected and listened to and they’d do a better job.[private]
If they would let me, I would sit on my brother’s shoulder and whisper the answers to all life’s questions. That is, if I knew them, which I most likely would not. I would dress as a ninja and follow him through his high school days, throwing a star or pulling a samurai sword on anyone who dare tease him.
I would become a thug and enter the drugstore where he worked and abduct and knock out the teeth of the cashier that would later break his heart.
If they would let me, I would sit by my brother’s side and monitor the caloric intake of each bite he lifted to his mouth. I would will the strained muscle of his heart to keep on keeping on. I would whisper, “You can do it.” I would become the serotonin he lacked, I would circulate through his brain making him feel that life was worthwhile, beautiful even.
If they would let me, I would melt away the selfish sister of myself, the rotten heart who cut off his rat tail against his will. Who cried and told on him when he ate my new lip gloss or when he accidentally pinged me with his BB gun.
If they would let me, I would keep him safe inside my shirt pocket, or I would let him keep me. We could keep each other so long as it kept the other alive for as long as the other had to be here. Down to the day.
But the trouble is—the governing powers of the universe, the bastards, wouldn’t let me. And whispering the worthless phrases flashing in the back of my mind, phrases like, “I’m sorry,” and “I love you,” won’t change anything.[/private]
About Theresa Coulter
Theresa works as a freelance writer in New York City and has written scripts for Tina Fey and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, only one of whom remarked, “This girl is funny. She has been a Ledig House International Fellow and a Helene Wurlitzer grantee. She has been a resident at Hedgebrook, MacDowell, UCROSS, Millay and the Atlantic Center for the Arts.