1992

1

"Tom came back home. Tom came back home"

I shouted out the window after I recognized him crossing the square, he had almost fallen asleep walking. He wore his rifle on a sling behind his back and his heavy backpack on his shoulder. I floated down the stairs, panting in an effort to capture the moment, burst into the blazing sun in the street and kissed his pale neck. It was just like I kissed Eli, my soldier. It was the same feeling of anticipation, for the return of Eli from the army, it blurred the differences between the two soldiers, as I also jumped on the neck of tom, my stepbrother.

He is happy and holds me by my waist and pulls me close to his chest, with his one free arm. I continue to cover his shoulders and neck with long hugs and kisses. My red and transparent skirt, reveals the space between my thighs And my black shirt, whose collar I’d ripped, was one with his green uniform.

There was no girlfriend waiting for him at home. He went into his room, shut the door, lay on the bed, closed his eyes, and tried to delete the voices of the military from his mind He listened to Nirvana’s new album, then took a shower and shaved his pale cheeks, put on a white shirt, and went into the living room , where he sat on the couch without moving, watching TV. One foot rested on the table and the other was folded into his stomach.

I put on my sandals and left the house; he would not see me all Saturday. I went to Eli; Tom stayed in his room, sealed in shell of shyness.

His room was always messy. On the table were notebooks, CDs and dirty plates. He must have thought thousands of thoughts in this room, like a thick tissue of wires tied like a fishing net over his bed. He was accustomed to sit in front of the TV. His whole childhood had passed on the couch, while his mother, my stepmother Rosanna Serpentine, nurtured her career at the bank, while Tom sat in the living room in the dark, getting fat on frozen hamburgers and tiny bags of ketchup. So he hated his body and went running every night. All night he ran himself from the new town to the old familiar town where he grew up. We moved there when the August heat was especially brutal. Tom lugged the crates up eight flights of stairs. The smell of his sweat filled the whole house, even after many weeks we've been living there. The smell hung in the air sour and stubborn, refused to pass.

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