We Are Not Here to Have a Good Time

Outside the sky is trapped between day and night; the low clouds remind me of windswept sand. My mother, Sandra and me are waiting in the park- ing lot of the Morrison Center—a place for disturbed kids— for my older brother Oswaldo to be released. He’s been here a year, ever since he tried to light our house on fire. No one was home though, which should count for something.
The inside of the car smells like nail polish. My hair is parted to the side. A maroon clip-on-tie divides my chest and my mom’s wearing a beige dress with a lobster pin that my dad complains, is worse for wear. I don’t know what he means, but I think it looks beautiful in a damaged sort of way.
Oswaldo wrote me letters twice a month, but the only thing I remember is that the Morrison Center used to be a school for the blind. He said that in the morning kids lined up outside their rooms to have their eyes cleaned, by people with buckets of water and washcloths, because dust had collected on them while they slept. He told me blind people never blinked, that they couldn’t see because everything was too beautiful, too bright. I didn’t know how he knew this, but I believed him.
When we dropped him off he looked over his shoulder at me in the back- seat and said, “Carlos, we’re not here to have a good time.”
Any minute now he’ll come through the giant, heavy doors; until then, I’ll watch for lightning bugs with their cold, soft light.

Jorge Ricardo Lopez-McKnight is 30 years old and lives in Southern Indiana.