I start thinking again, Adam’s on his knees, I’m bending his arm in ways that make him scream.
I freeze and let go.
O no. he’s afraid. He doesn’t know me. He used to know me, but now he doesn’t. His jaw is hanging in mid air, half in pain and half in fear, and the others are scared. Miranda is screaming and stumbling towards me.
The guy who looks like me rushes up to me, and says, it’s okay, sis. It’s okay. It was an accident.
Matt is shocked, and I start apologizing to everybody, god I’m so sorry I’m sorry I’m sorry I didn’t mean it, it was an accident, oh god I’m sorry Adam
The guy says Somebody get Adam some ice for his hand, that’s going to hurt even worse in the morning, and he walks me out of the room.
I still can’t believe I did that.
We walk out to the porch, and fear and anger and everything starts bursting inside of me under the night sky, what the hell just happened, how the fuck did I do that (I learned that one from Miranda when she broke her shoes) what is going on who the hell are you, how do you know me when I don’t even know who the hell I a-
He cuts me off. Shh. Calm down. I can’t believe you still remember that trick.
Trick?! That was a fucking trick? The words fill me up and run through me, hitting him and echoing off the porch. They run off into the night.
Yeah, it…nevermind. You want to know the other stuff, so, let’s start with that, alright? He’s tense, but calm, and talking me down from the anger. Cigarette? He asks, as he pulls one out for himself. I don’t smoke.
You never did, just figured I’d be nice. He lights it.
I wasn’t joking back there – you are my sister. They must’ve just let you out a month or two ago, though.
Yeah, I say. How’d he figure that out?
Well, they said this was the year for that. Project’s done, they didn’t need us anymore, but they promised they’d hold you longer for some debriefing. Glad it was sooner rather than later, anyway. He looks at me and smiles. It’s good to see you again, Seven.
I don’t even know your name! I protest. How do you know all that stuff about me, and I don’t even know who you are!?
He turns around. He turns around? What the hell? He pulls his shirt down a bit, and right in the same spot where mine is, a tattoo of four interlocking threes.
You’re Three? I ask. It’d make sense.
Yep. They call me Tre. It’s easier that way.
How many of us are there?
Were, he says. There were eight.
Wait, were? I ask.
Yeah. So far, you’re the only other one who made it out. The cigarette burns alive with orange light, and he breathes it in.
He breathes out, and the cigarette goes to his hand. Your other brothers didn’t make it.
All of the sudden, I think about Miranda’s life. The pictures, yearbooks, other things that she has. A family. How did I have a family I never knew about?
How long have I not know I had family?
How many birthdays have I lost?
This is making it?
I’m reeling from all the short words he’s said. What do you mean, made it?
Exactly that. We survived. Eight went in, we came out. The way he says the words has sadness in it. He remembers losing them. He remembers what they were like – why don’t I?
Tre? I ask.
Do you dream?
Yeah, Sev. Why?
I don’t. I haven’t. He looks at me, as if he’s fitting a puzzle together in his head, but doesn’t want to tell the piece how it all looks from the outside.
Eight go in, two come out.
We sit there, staring at the night, and wonder why only we survived.