"He Was an Echo" is one of the April Writing Challenge entries that was chosen to be a featured story.
The morning air was crisp. It bit at her cheeks and left love bites down her neck. She checked for the key she knew would be hanging under the gap in the porch, grabbed it, and unlocked the library door. She was greeted by the familiar smell of dust, words, and different worlds as the door swung open. She breathed in heavily. The greatest gift they were ever left: a locked up library. All they had to do was turn the key. She padded through her sanctuary, searching for her brother as the sun came up, cautious and crimson.
Later, while she was sitting in the study encircled by Keats, she heard an indistinct, muffled yell. She turned around quickly, startled by the voice. Someone was shouting. Standing up, she looked around, searching for the source of the sound, peering out into the depths of the wild garden through the huge window. Her eyes lifted to the tops of the trees, and she saw him perched there, book in one hand and a feather tucked behind his ear like Peter Pan, a lost boy in the world of too many words and too much sound. She pulled the heavy window up, dust sparkling in the air like raindrops on a wind chime, and spoke into the air filled with his voice–
“What do you think you’re doing?”
He looked down at her, momentarily surprised, as if he had forgotten he was sitting in an old oak tree, not soaring over the tops of Neverland.
“Oh, dear sister, will we ever know where this train goes?” he said simply, smiling down at her. Spreading his arms wide, he shouted at the sky: “Off beat and bittersweet! This cannot be my whole life!” He sat down abruptly, rested his head onto a tree branch, placed the book over his eyes, and began to hum quietly.
She whispered his words back to him. Her beautiful broken brother. The one pushed out of the cuckoo’s nest, the outcast, misfit. The boy who sat in trees and howled at the moon, twisted the sun between his finger and thumb and spoke to the stars as if they could hear him. Perhaps they could.
“Will we ever know where this train goes?” she repeated again, watching her blonde-haired brother toss his book to the ground, where it landed heavily in a patch of nettles.