Evan irritated him. He squeezed his eyes shut, “Life would be so much better without you.”
Mean scratched his heart — a selfgrown claw. He did not have Evan’s unbound affection that flowed from his middle brother to halo those close around.
But not him. He shrugged away from any touch. Next too Evan’s brightness, he shadowed deeper into gloom. Water traced his back, eddied down past his fingertips. Drip. The air, warmed all through, pressed against him. Toes crushed soft fern.
Bennet he loved — buoyant — from the beginning as he despised Evan. Bennet could coax a laugh from his darkwild mind.
Yet, with a sound splash, they sunk all three, into bluegreen brotherhood. On land that was unstable and ill-suited, now washed away in slosh of wet and calm harbor shade. Minnows caught in army green weeds. Caught in boy fingers too. Crawdads fast cranny into holes, clawpinch sunken treasure of rotted slime. Oaks cradle earth on their knees and feel the pressure of boy feet in their arms.
With a warholler.
Leap into blue.
Warm crashes into cool and wet. Plunges him and them all into deep unworry and forget.
These are the idyll days they try to recall. When spring fed pools make everything fine. And found in their ragged bounds — a sudden solace.