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Brothers of the Ravenous Regret

by Trent Walters

Four score and seven years ago, four and twenty black birds brought forth a cawing to our backyard’s Chinese elms. The birds supplanted the colored leaves that had fallen and left the trees barren. Some of the birds drooped by their legs, upside down like primates--almost as if the birds had been tied to the limbs with a bit of twine. They--both birds and trees--were so frightful in appearance that we remained indoors. No matter, the incessant caws pierced our house’s thin bay windows.

The twins, side by side on seats that Father had built for them, did not open their mouths to speak or eat for days. The living-room grandfather clock donged the hour, which they--as we later learned--did not count. The twins moved only to shift in their seats, sigh, or perform what looked like a secret handshake.

We worried over this and coffee around the kitchen table while Aunt Effie baked some of her famous monkey bread. But even this failed to entice them. We had to console her because Aunt Effie blamed herself--as we, more often than not, were all wont to do.

On the third day of fasting, we keyed up a doctor--the latest model, which included a built-in fMRI. While it examined the twins, we got out the shotgun and fired at the roosting black birds to get them to move on. The birds merely swirled into the sky and settled back down into the elms. A few merely swung back and forth, dangling by their legs.

When we returned, the doctor had left a fMRI-recording of our twins’ thoughts: “Our existence is little more than to devour, oxidize, drowse and defecate. Why bother?”

We tried to reason with our brothers, but they could not yet understand English.

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