A short story by Sam Vest
Upon arriving home to my family’s mansion I heard the feint strums of music in the basement. There were seven children of us altogether, and only one too young to have flown the coup. I descended the stairs to find a lone musician leaned over his guitar, soaking in bittersweet chords. I paused halfway down the stairs, not wanting to break the spell.
This musician was my youngest brother, though he was not young anymore. His limbs protruded from pants and a t-shirt two sizes too small. Baby fat had been replaced with angular muscle, and his blonde hair was darker now, even against the sunbeam that illuminated the peach hairs of his adolescent beard.
“Brother.” I said.
The musician whipped up his head and looked like a deer in headlights.
“Oh!” he said tossing aside his guitar.
He sprung to an electric keyboard and set the basement ablaze with the sickest beat I had heard in years. I flew across the basement to join him on the dance floor. We shook our long, lanky bodies like witch doctors begging the sky for rain. We were suddenly both kids again and the time that had separated us seemed like only yesterday.
After moving my body every which way I knew how, I embraced my brother, and threw us both upon a giant round pillow called a Luv Sac.
“Luke, I’m home!” I said kissing both his scruffy cheeks.
“Yes,” said he, “now put on some clothes and let’s build an igloo.”
I scarcely had time to thank him for my glorious welcoming party before he zipped up the stairs.
I ascended the mansion to my old room, where I rummaged through a nostalgic closet, picked memories off hangers, and found the relics still fit and looked awkward and mismatched as ever.
“Brother!” I called into the mansion.
“He’s already outside.” Echoed my mother’s voice from some deep chamber.
I exited through the garage and beheld a winter wonderland! In the distance, my brother, the Eskimo, shoveled fresh snow by the pounds upon a steadily growing hill. I grabbed a flat-faced spade and entered the jungle. My legs disappeared up to the knees into the canopy, and with great effort I ventured to the working Eskimo.
“Take this spade,” said he, “you can do more damage than I.”
I traded my flat-face spade for his snow-spade and we set to work building our hill. I needed only touch the surrounding powder with my spade and it weighed heftily with white dirt; and thus, contacting all the muscles of my abdomen and back, I hurled the load upon the hill.
“Heeyag!” said my Eskimo brother contributing another spade-full to the hill.
“Blag-ah-darg!” I mimicked.
“Weee woooo!” said he.
“Froginst!” Said I.
We piled the surrounding jungle onto our hill till my sides ached.
“Another three feet and we can make a second floor.” I said.
“Yes, but not before a break.” Said my brother. He trudged through the white jungle to the mansion and returned with two water bottles. I squeezed the ice water into my burning mouth. The defective bottle depleted half its contents onto my steaming beard, which then trickled down my coat.
“Watch this.” I said.
I backed up a good distance, plotting to make my brother laugh at the sight of fluttering legs, and my body half-submerged in the hill. I took off running and dove headfirst. The snow was hard as a brick-wall, and I nearly broke my neck, which made the joke doubly funny.
My brother climbed our mighty hill and danced upon it to test its constitution.
“It’s ready.” Said he. “Which side should we make the door?”
“Well,” said I, “I want the sun to wake me in the morning and bid me good evening at night.
“Hmm… The sun rises over there,” He said pointing East to the misty sky above the tree line.
“And sets over there.” He pointed West.
“Therefore logic dictates we build the door………that way.” Just as he was about to point East again, he swung around his arm and pointed West, where everyone should know the sun does not rise.
“Heh heh heh,” he giggled, “J K, we’ll put the door on this side.” He thrust his spade into the side of the hill facing East.
We worked as a tag team. First, my Eskimo brother chizzled the insides free, and I swept out the debris. Soon the hollow could encompass one of us. Then I crawled inside and hacked at the walls, while he swept out the debris. Working upward and out, the hollow expanded large enough to hold the two of us with a lady friend each.
“Fashion a door so we might know the dark.” I said.
My Eskimo brother rolled a giant snowball. He crawled into the hollow with me and we used the snowball to seal the entrance. Sunlight ceased to be and all of a sudden the two of us lie in an ice cave.
“This is the closest either of us will ever be to ‘buried alive,’” I said, panting from our efforts, “Look at the lengths we must go to get a little thrill in Godfrey, Illinois!”
“Yeah.” He said, somewhat removed.
Our eyes adjusted to the dark. The walls of our cave glowed with yellow and baby blue light in spots we’d cut too thin. Steam rose from our exhausted bodies and hovered in the atmosphere like a sauna.
“This must be like what Godzilla feels like before attacking Tokyo.” I said.
“Ha.” he responded.
He sounded deep in thought. He put his foot on a glowing blue spot on the roof of the cave, and pressed hard till he grunted from exertion. He got on his knees and punched the spot.
His fist pierced the wall. Light burst in upon us and felt like the first we’d seen in ages. The sight of my brother gazing into the light looked like a snapshot from a grand adventure film.
“Stay there!” I said, “I want to see what you look like from the outside.”
I kicked the giant snowball blocking the entrance till I could squeeze past. I climbed atop the hill to the spot where my brother’s glove protruded. I seized his hand and held it tight. It slipped through my mitten and retreated into the hole. I looked inside and saw the smiling face of my brother, the igloo.