You three were trouble ever since the day your eyes opened up like wrists in a bathtub. You three were “The Boys”, that means that all of you would be the ragtag trio that liked to bring your mother to her knees, that means that our father would leave you because he couldn’t handle a mess, his eyes downcast from your longing faces.
When you three were kids, you liked to play Cops and Robbers, your fingers cocked into the perfect gun, obscenities falling from your mouth like bullets. You used to ricochet off the walls, screaming over how you couldn’t catch each other, over how death would never touch you. You three believed you were invincible, like you were always swallowing Super Mario stars, the ones that made you glow from the inside out.
But then you grew up. And you never grew out of that phase. You never learned to put the guns down, transforming tender fingers into shiny black metal. You swallowed pills and smoked blunts, listened to Tupac, screamed “FUCK THE WORLD!”, believed that death would never catch you, would never touch you, would never fill you.
We lost a brother because of that. We lost a brother to ignorance and darkness. We lost a brother because you couldn’t stop being children who liked to run around in the dark, toting weapons and saying, “Motherfucker, I’ll sleep when I’m dead.”
I’ve watched you three grow up in photographs. I’ve watched you three be soldiers of the street. I’ve listened to the phone calls where you said, “I don’t think I’m going to make it to the morning, sis. Maybe I’ll be better in another life.”
I don’t want you in another life, my brothers. I don’t want to hear another phone call about how one of you have died at one fifteen in the morning, your body lifeless on a couch. I want our father to stop listening to police scanners like they’re a lullaby, searching for your description amongst the bodies that fill up their feed.
Please, my brothers. Grow up. Stop dreaming of your blood filling up a gutter. I want you to be the men that I know you are, the men that our father failed to be, the men that our brother would want you to be for him.
Please. Wake up. Stop waging a war on this world when there are arms that are ready to hold you, when there are shoulders that know your burdens, when there are people that can look up and say, “I need you to stop fighting. Come home. Be my family. I love you. Please. don’t. die.”