Bullet in Tennessee

This was how it ended.

People found comfort in the fact that it was “meant” to come down to a blood-spattered backseat of a grim new-model Chevy with a hood bent like a crocodile muzzle, to a hole in your delicate, mysterious brain; what better way to exorcise genius?

The note that they found on you was addressed to your sister, “whom [you] loved.” It wasn’t meant to dismiss your parents, this note, it was borne out of your love of precision.

Your parents lived mostly in their thoughts: somehow managing to talk above your head even when you became a head taller than both of them, or else lapsing into “cool” phases, offering you wine and unsolicited advice about condoms. Your sister was near and keen, mouth hanging open in wonder at everything you did: college math in the seventh grade, tae kwan do black belt, balancing a spoon on your nose and explaining stochastic differential equations at the same time.

You dutifully went on double-dates with me, knowing that my best friend Ruth pressured me to “not just be the freaking third-wheel all the time.” For Ruth’s benefit, you brushed strands of hair out of my face and, with a look of desperate teenage longing, whispered things in my ear: Continue reading