Aiming for a creative life

I Am Santo

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Carmine knew it would happen sooner or later. He’d come home from working all day in the kitchen, and there would be a message in his voicemail or even a letter in the mail telling him Joseph was gone. He didn’t know exactly how it would happen, but his younger brother, the youngest of the four of them, had been on his final chapter for a while now. Still it was a surprise when he saw Miriam in his living room drinking a lemonade while Luisa prepared dinner in the kitchen. He hated cooking at home. All day at his diner trying to keep his life afloat made creating a meal on his own stove feel like punishment. And yet when he saw Miriam he immediately felt the urge to take over for his wife, for that was life with his siblings. He was their chef and it gave him purpose; ironic because it was his abilities in the kitchen that long ago allowed him to take flight from their suffocating home, fleeing like a balloon caught on the wind. His skills lifted him above the hurt, recrimination and pain, hope in a helium tank ready to explode at any time largely due to Joseph. So he didn’t smile when he saw Miriam, but instead stepped into the kitchen and took over for Luisa who silently acquiesced and left them alone to check on the kids. And when his sister joined him, he simply instructed her to warm up the tortillas as he always did, falling into their old routine effortlessly. Over dinner she spoke mournfully of Joseph’s end by his own hand and the sizable debts left, but Carmine half-listened, unsurprised and distant. He’d floated off too long ago to care, caught on the breeze of his talent while the rest of them were bound by family ties like anchors. He shook his head no when she asked him to go to the wake and funeral and instead of meeting her eyes, stared out the window at the sun setting over the water, boats dotting the tranquil waters like paper hats left in puddle. Somewhere there was a memory of he and Joseph setting sail to folded newspaper after a heavy rain, but he chose not to remember. Instead Carmine sat ignoring his sister’s pleas to come home, envisioning himself in the air over the water, hovering high above the grave his brother chose for himself.

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