where he sleeps

My brother sleeps in doorways, in the woods, in abandoned buildings, vacant lots, and maybe even on street corners. I don’t actually know. I don’t even know if they have a tent or a bedroll or a blanket. But I know he has to sleep. He’s slept in Colorado in April in the snow and Montana in June in the snow and Slab City in the desert in November and December. He slept in Aurora, Colorado the night of the movie theater shooting.

There are a lot of kids out there like my brother. I see them in in their distinctive olive drab and black clothes with their dogs and their dreadlocks and their banjos. Their faces pull at my heartstrings as they stand on the corner and beg. I never give them any money even though they, too, may somewhere have an older sister who is worried and giving my brother money since she can’t find her own.

My brother went missing in November. He caught a ride from somewhere near Eureka, California to Ashland, Oregon and never made it. His girlfriend showed up in Ashland and after waiting for him for several days, she finally called my mother and they filed a missing persons report. He showed up several days later somewhere I don’t remember, but his girlfriend found him - somewhat by dumb luck. His ride had let him out in the middle of nowhere in northern California and he couldn’t find anyone else to pick him up. I’m still not sure if this lost was a little town or big woods and I'm not sure if I want to find out.

I didn’t even know. She forgot to tell me until right before Christmas. And someday soon, when we stop talking, I will lose my brother - for she sometimes proves to be my only link to him. Will he miss me?

Phoebe Guider is a writer and artist living with her wife in Richmond, VA. More of her writing can be found at: www.phoebeguider.blogspot.com.

Phoebe takes classes with Valley.