That burnt out cigarette tripping between his fingers; his eyes are steady but his arms always shake. And beneath the rugged carpet, our words are stirring, like damp air trying to hold its own breath, or else we might all choke on the smoke. There was always a fire in our lives, the ruined towns and larger cities in smouldered concrete, inverse winters with flaming suns. All our effort lay in the trickery of adulthood, which we yet had to master.

I was six years older than you, so I had the given word. But you never listened because you were the given rebel. Anxious bones, always shaking, always shaking so badly with cigarette in hand. But those eyes could kill snow, could make the walls crawl into the brick layers. I have held your hands; I have picked you up and carried you around. I have held your dreams like a human holds the newborn bird. The fear of fragile glass, a skeleton of sugar dreams. When you grew past me, you grew into a thought that had long only be carried in the back of a little boy's mind, of someone who had only himself and his frail glow. The winter sun, piercing my eyes when on top of a mountain hill, ready to ski down.

During summer, you were toned and bronze, I recall this. I made fun of your crooked nose, broken sometime during your hockey years, but the girls loved it. Your chin protruding from the child face, cheeks building and structure visible; compensating for nicotine stained teeth. And the bird eyes that spoke of a decade of fire, blue sky against the torched land. Can we speak the spell; at least attempt to let the river wash in? I have for so long wished for us to be cleaned, purified. Every time when I was crying alone in a corner of my heart, you got upset with yourself, the distaste for my tears and failure. Maybe I failed you in being weak, human. My pain was as real as yours, perhaps worse.

Carrying this weight on your back, the heavy brick walls. You shook, you stirred, and your skin was tense. Light another one, take it to your lips, and let the smoke fade. It was the ritual of the moment, our given mistakes. And in the back of our hearts, keeping the embers warm.

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