It didn’t wake me-- the ache in the far back of my mouth on the gum-line, where teeth were cut out when I was a teenager. It was needing to pee that woke me, the ache just kept me up after. Awake and imagining how to talk without pleading to my brother, not just talk about him like I did around the campfire last night when someone said, What will it take to convince these people? I know one of those people. I love one of those people. One of those people doesn’t believe it works. That it will enlarge his heart. That it caused the variant. One of those people is scared. I could play with him when we were little, but only if I was the bad guy-- the GI-Joe against Batman, the ninja raiding the Lego fortress. But I don’t want to be the bad guy, I wailed. Maybe I was too quick to cry-- but it’s true: I don’t want to be the bad guy. I don’t want to tell him Joe Rogan isn’t a deity, that it’s a numbers game and he lives in Florida, that the internet doesn’t love him as much as I do. I don’t know how to talk like a little sister about things so much bigger than our old bedroom: The research. The science. The statistics. The hospitals. The families. The sisters who aren’t sisters anymore. It aches-- that place far back on my gum-line. And I don’t know why. Maybe a corn chip cut it. Maybe it’s infected. Maybe it’ll just go away on its own.
First published in decomp journal, Issue 5