My brother enlisted at 18. My brother had several arms, all of them hairy and tattooed. My brother was the size and shape of a tree. My brother was a man. My brother died fighting for his country.
My brother didn’t necessarily want to go to war, but he ate breakfast, cuddled with his little girls, and took a page out of a notebook. The page was where he had written his plans for the future. He folded up the page into an airplane.
He put his baby girls into a double stroller and pushed it down the road. His baby girls babbled in their little toddler voices and he’d answer with things like, “Yes, honey, that’s a birdie,” or, “Yes, baby, we can get ice cream later.”
When they got to the bridge, he took them out of the double stroller and had them stand up along the railing. They grabbed the bars with strawberry fists.
“Daddy’s gonna fly the airplane now. Do you want to watch daddy fly the airplane?”
When they said yes, they said it loud and with violence in their voices; a directive. It reminded him of his weeks at boot camp. It reminded him of Hitler.
My brother wanted to jump off the bridge with one arm outstretched, holding the paper airplane like he was a giant passenger but he knew the proportions were uneven and that the airplane, full of his inked future, could not carry his weight despite its importance. Despite how full of blue sky it was. Despite how much he wanted it to.
He flew the plane.
His girls watched it fall.