Gradient,

I had become a kind of litigator of need. The empty hollowness behind my heart, shared over and remembered and tossed aside. We napped in a sweltering room though frost laced the walls. That’s all I remember of being born, and the regular tick of the clock.

Brad’s heart ticks fingernails along a wall, seventeen until he’s forgotten where he’s going and begins again. Your heart, Joe, what’s that? Evie’s whirs, sighs like a cuckoo clock. Your heart, Joe, what’s that? A silence on the platform.

It was sharing a heart which began it all for us, and after it was the wolves. Once I had been bitten, Brad and I took to beating the woods for the pack for our revenge, which we never took.

We made a lean-to, to keep the rain off, and counted nine of them which could’ve been them or others, after five years. Brad’s pocket knife kept our tally on the arms of the sodden wood, one by one. We weren’t allowed in the woods alone after I was bitten, but we tied our shoes up in bags and carried them with us through the mud.

We began first on the men and boys we needed to become wolves, ourselves. We tied a kite to a stone to mark the day we finished all nine.

Bet you can’t find this again.

Bet I can.

To say we meant to stop there would be a lie, as we had meant to stop there, but we never had the intention to stop there. It only changed when the one-and-silence became so unbearable to us that we found a girl to fill it.  

But why not Evie?

Because then it would be this unfinished feeling forever.

But why not Evie? In her was the end of this syllogism of her pair of brothers. In her were the differences split between us which made the other a mystery still to the one.

When we found the first girl, we pulled her heart out with a pry-bar from Mr. Cartwright’s garage, and we buried it at the base of the lean-to, where we drowsed until morning, pretending we could hear it still.

-John

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