Second prize winner of the 2009 Fortune Cookie Contest.
Love works in mysterious ways
All summer long, brother and sister fought on the brown couch with gold threads in front of the window that looked out to the cliff down to the creek. The brother sat to the right, the sister to the left. One two three four go! At each other. He with a yellow corduroy pillow, she with a blue. Fist over pillow. All morning. Every morning. All summer long.
They lay down sometimes brother and sister. He with his head to the right, she with her head to the left. One two three four go! At each other. Hard-muscled legs twisting legs twisting heel to pubis strike down heel to pubis hard. All morning. Every morning. All summer long. On the brown couch with gold threads where evenings their mother dreamed of a man where she worked packing meat all day long bloody hands swiping her apron. And their father turned soundlessly into a secretary’s driveway where she could not raise the child, could not raise the child on her own.
The brother. The sister. All summer long. Clenched. And standing now. In the kitchen. One two three—pennies! From the tobacco tin. Flying! Gun-metal smell. Hitting one forehead other chin fridge arms stove floor sink and in the hallway, dark hallway you stand in front of the stairs up to where you slept with father who loved me and I slept with mother who loved you and you hit me, brother, punched me until we ripped each other’s soft cheeks to hold one another under our nails and see how flesh blanches before red begins.