"Where were you?" My mother asked, her eyes puffed and soggy.

The room was heavy silence save the arythmic ticking of the ceiling fan above us. "Where were you?" My mother asked. Her her voice rising and shaking. Her knees jogging somewhere happier, safer. Behind her the respirator hissed. "Where were you?" My mother screamed. Her face scrunched up terribly. Her hand squeezing mine. Behind her the heart monitor beeped. "Where..." My mother's voice trailed off. Too tired, too weak to fight anymore. My little brother let out a weak cough and the heart monitor beeped faster. The respirator breathed heavier. My father looked at me for pity. I had none. My father looked at my brother's small face--at all the tubes and bruises and bandages. I could see the anguish in my father's cheeks, flushed and tight around his jaw. I could smell his sweat, stale with old drink and bitter from older sorrow. His breath like a back alley. "I don't know," he said. And after the funeral, when I found him in his shed, his breath but a fading whisper with his shaking, sticky hand gripping a picture of my brother above a bleeding wrist, I could only think to ask him, distant and without passion: Where were you? "I don't know," he answered. His voice a whisper. But he did. We all did.

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