Two weeks after my birthday, my brother is murdered.
The people come and take his body away in a black bag. When they zip it up and hide his face, I feel like they erase him from existence. He’s already gone.
I stand on the front steps because I don’t know what else to do. I don’t feel like doing anything. One of the policemen tells me they’re looking into it. He has green eyes. I knew better. My brother had brown eyes, so he will be forgotten. No one but me cared what happened to him.
A minute more and it starts to rain.
I swallow a laugh. In the movies, it rains when somebody dies. If only I were living in a movie—directed by God and playing the role of the heartbroken sibling, alone in the world. Only I’m not playing. I lost my parents and now I’ve lost Rory, too.
A police officer lays a hand on my shoulder. His face is kind but his eyes are green. He doesn’t care. “Is there somewhere you can go?”
I am seventeen years old. I have to live with someone for another year at least. Some kind of legal guardian. The officer is asking if I have other family. If he read my file, he’d know that the last of my family is being wheeled away as we speak.
“No,” I say, “there’s nowhere."
The officer frowns. “We can put you up in a hotel for the night. Then tomorrow morning we can make arrangements. How is that?”
It sounds awful. I don’t want to leave my house. Rory and I built a life there together. Some of my best memories were created in that house. At the same time, it feels empty without him. So empty. And there’s still blood and broken glass everywhere.
“Sounds okay,” I lie.
“Perfect,” he says, “why don’t you come along with me?” He keeps his hand on my shoulder and steers me in the direction of his cruiser. I turn over my shoulder to look at the gurney being wheeled into the ambulance. I don’t recognize it as part of my brother. The officer opens the door and holds it for me. I slide into the seat. The vinyl is cool against my skin. I wish I weren’t wearing such a short dress.
“Did you want to get your belongings?” he asks
I haven’t thought about it. Earlier when I tried to go into my bedroom, the police told me not to touch anything. How am I supposed to pack my suitcase without touching things? “I didn’t think I could.”
“I could go get some things for you. Do you know what you want?”
I want Rory back. “No.”
“Okay, do you want to wing it for a night and swing by here in the morning?”
I have no idea. I don’t want anything. There’s a hollow place inside me getting bigger every second. I shrug.
He nods, closes the door, and climbs into the driver’s seat.
I put on my seatbelt. Rory would have made me. He cracked down on seatbelts after our parents’ accident. I knew he meant well. No one could ever love me as much as he had. Not even our parents had loved me that much.
The policeman doesn’t check to make sure I’m wearing my seat belt. He revs the engine, and the interior falls silent. He doesn’t turn on the radio. Neither of us talks.