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When my brother took me to my room, could I have known what that would do?

Could I have known that violence would be more forgiveable than pain? That one day, this would be the unraveling memory, the one that would make the careful lies fall apart? If it had been different—if I had been stronger, if I had not been so aware at every moment that my brother could, and would, kill me, if he felt that I was too much of a threat, what would I have done? Would I have thrown myself at him, nails sharp and dragging? Kicked and bit, tried to hurt every inch of his body, leave him in tatters and scars? Would my mother then spend the rest of her life telling him that he needed to forgive me? That what was done was done?

Or was it not about violence, but her sons, her sons that she could believe had every right to let their anger and hurt coarse through their bodies in a way I was not allowed? If I had fought him off, if my mother had come home one afternoon, her son’s body bruised, me crying and explaining what happened, would she have demanded me to apologize?

When my brother took me to my room, did he know his place within the family was assured? Did he know how haphazard he could be, how risk-free his secrecy was, did he know that the cost for all of this would never be on his shoulders? When my brother took me to my room, was that the moment it was over for me? Was that when the path would veer, when it would spill me down the side of a cliff, lost and abandoned, and I would no longer count as one of their own? When I left my room, my hips rolling in ache and stiffness, was that a gate? Did it shut then, and I just didn’t know it?