After my brother died and came back as a ghost, Mom took up an interest in astrology. When she was away at work, I looked up the meaning of myself. A water sign even though I couldn’t swim. You were made of air, which made sense, given your tendency to jump from things. Mom had ripped out all the pages on my brother. A fire sign. I found them in her nightstand and read every page. When she found them out of order that night, she yelled at me. Can’t I have any privacy? She was worried my brother, who’d taken refuge in the living room and refused to move, was going to burn down the house. That’s ridiculous, he said, but he wasn’t talking to Mom anymore, so I had to tell her. Water cancels fire, I said, and Mom said, It’s sweet, these little things you believe in. Afterwards, you told me we could float away from it all. Air goes up for miles, you said, and I thought of the nothingness that came after.
Nicholas Cook lives in Dallas, TX, along with his dog. His fiction has appeared or is forthcoming in Jellyfish Review, (b)OINK, 100 Word Story, Lost Balloon, Unbroken Journal, and elsewhere. His story The Peculiar Trajectory of Space Objects won second place in the Feb 2017 Bath Flash Fiction Award. Find him at @thisdogisdog or nicholascook.com.