Aaron Burch

The Brothers

The brothers do not know they are brothers. They do not look alike, do not share any traits that may seem brotherly. No one else knows they are brothers.

They do not share the same birthday. The brothers are not twins; they never pretended to be the other, never played make believe and switched roles to trick anyone. They do not refer to one another as “brother.”

The brothers take a road trip together. They drive across the country, not keeping track but managing to share the driving time exactly 50/50. At each stop, one pays for food, the other gas, and all calculated—though neither does the calculations—they split the cost as evenly as they do the drive time.

The brothers are not tricksters or pranksters, they do not like puzzles or riddles, are not fascinated by detective novels or mysteries, do not especially enjoy feeling confused or confusing others, though, of course, each brother likes or doesn’t like each of these slightly more or less than the other.

The brothers do not have a sister. They do not have any other brothers. They are each only children.

One brother stays, the other drives back across the country, returning to where they’d started. He pays the full cost himself, does all the driving, has to make no radio or restaurant or route or when-to-stop-for-the-night compromises.

The brothers do not share the same job, nor are they even similar. They do not feel similar obligations or impulses regarding when or how frequently to call their parents. Neither brother is a morning person, nor a night owl, though each leans slightly more toward one than the other.

They talk infrequently, see each other even less. When they do speak—on the phone, in person, via email—they continue to never call each other “brother.”

The brothers are, are not, do, do not, like, don’t like, have, have not.

As time passes, each brother thinks of the other less. They often do not speak to others of one another at all. They forget about the other altogether. They never once speak the word “brother.”

Aaron Burch's first full length collection of stories, Backswing, will be out next year from Queen's Ferry Press. He edits Hobart: another literary journal. A couple months ago he had a poem here on Everyday Genius about Kanye and Jay-Z.

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