Weird stuff floated in the water. My brother was due home any moment. He and I lived alone on the river on old family property, but we didn’t have any money. I can’t explain to you how property taxes work. We got by. The weird stuff in the water could have been logs, or dead bodies, or spreading orange blooms. My brother was due home soon, that was what I knew. I sat on the porch in an old rocking chair, watching the water. The rocking chair wasn’t mine—very little was. I had spent the previous year in Brazil, where I didn’t learn much of anything. I didn’t learn Portuguese. I spent the year teaching children to speak English. We never understood one another. What was there to know? There are too many ways to bend branches. They all snap the same. I sat on the porch in a rocking chair. I sat and waited for my brother. We lived alone. The river was red, maybe from the sunset, maybe from a war I hadn’t yet learned was on. Don’t you know? There’s a war on. A dog barked, somewhere. A long time ago, when my brother and I were kids, we would go swimming in the river. Before bacteria would slough off your skin, before all the manatees died. Sun struck the river, reflecting red, feeding flowering algae. The rocking chair rocked, cradle to fall. I was waiting on my brother to come home. Handshake, hug, hello. He never did.
Chase Burke has lived in Florida for most of his life. He is a graduate of the University of Florida and has taught English abroad. His short fiction has appeared in The Literateur, East Jasmine Review, Gigantic Sequins, SmokeLong Quarterly, CHEAP POP, and others.