Dad loved Remy best, the rest of us knew by the way he said his name: Rem-me, with the accent on the last syllable, like our brother belonged to him. As a toddler, Remy took the attention Dad gave him and swallowed it whole until he gagged and turned blue. We could have saved him, I suppose, given him the Heimlich, but Dad waved us off. He’s fine. And when his color came back, Remy asked for more and Dad spoon-fed his waiting mouth. He was the fungus to Dad’s roots, symbiotic, with no room for interruptions. We couldn’t compete. Instead, we closed a chamber of our heart, portioning out our love in crumbs.
When Remy died at age fourteen, Dad died, or maybe it was the reverse, we never knew, but the funerals racked up poor attendance. Dad and Rem-me hadn’t sprouted many branches from their tree, content to cross-pollinate in solitude. The swath in front of their gravestones grew no grass, just moss and dirt, and the flowers we laid withered. Dad had always hated flowers but we brought them just the same, mostly to watch them wither.
The segment of our hearts marked Dad and Remy, already shuttered, atrophied from neglect, unwatered by tears or memories. Seasons passed, we grew up, had children of our own, and loved them equally, unequivocally, totally. We threw reunions at the gravesite and told the young ones this is what happened to misers and gluttons. Martha brought an Ouija board to communicate, but no one answered. Dad and Rem-me, content in the afterworld, had no use for us any more than they had when they’d lived.
Mureall Hebert lives near Seattle, WA with her family. Her work can be found in Hobart, [PANK], Pithead Chapel, decomP and elsewhere. She’s been nominated for Best New Poets and a Pushcart Prize. She holds an MFA from the Northwest Institute of Literary Arts. You can find Mureall online @mureallhebert and www.mureallhebert.com.