My brother was a gymnast, the best in the Tri-County area; he refused to perform on any equipment but the trampoline. The trampoline was a new acquisition for Bellington High School in 1968, and Billy wanted to do things no one in Bellington had ever seen anyone do.
I didn’t know I loved him deeply, not then, not yet; for days on end I had no conscious thoughts of him. After all, I was the elder sister; I was a senior, I would graduate with Honors (as honors went, in Bellington), I was pretty enough. I did right in superficial ways. I kept structures intact by attending to surfaces, trying to conceal the fact that I belonged nowhere. Uneasy, I watched Billy practice in the gym, twisting and turning as though borne up by some liquid medium.
In the weeks preceding the gym show, Billy was granted special practice time during homeroom hour. Mornings in the crowded high school, I had homeroom in the gymnasium. Thirty of us sat in one section of the portable bleachers, waiting for the scream of first-period bell. Roll was taken, announcements made. Girls gossiped. In front of us lay the basketball court, vast and blond; on the other side of it, my brother hurled himself into the air repeatedly, warming up. He was obvlivious to spectators, and most only glanced at him once or twice and went back to copying homework assignments. I kept my hands open in my lap and stared at my palms, at the lines, the whorls and stars and crosses. If I looked at Billy, I wouldn’t be able to look away.