Author : Brian Bartolomeo

Apparently I have a face that invites unsolicited advice.

“Are you even listening to me now?” my brother asked from the driver’s seat of his semi-classic car. “Aren’t you supposed to be a genius or something? What you need to do is to get a job that pays real money and pull your weight around here. We’re all tired of the position that you’ve put us in, so you need to move on.” His tiny, blonde girlfriend in the front passenger seat conscientiously ignored our heated argument in favor of texting rapidly while we all sped down the green corridor of a winding back road.

I tend to stonewall in uncomfortable conversations in hopes that the other person gets bored or shows a weakness, but I had heard enough out of my brother for the day. I leaned forward from the back seat and said, “I’ve done more ‘moving on’ than you have. How many swaggering, self-righteous bosses do you still have anyway? I keep losing count.” His only response was to upshift. I continued, “At least I have something to—” The car flipped.

I stood on the road and watched my brother’s car slide sideways on a patch of sand covering the road, hit the railroad ties lining the steep slope off the edge of the road and tumble over and down, twisting to absorb the impacts. Not twisting enough. I stood in horror and confusion. Wasn’t I supposed to be in the car? Was the sky supposed to flash those colors? Then I remembered. I remembered coming to myself and remembering again and again. I remembered that I wouldn’t allow myself to remember any of my previous efforts while I was in the car. That would defeat the whole point of the simulation.

I dragged myself over to the console to set the simulation up for another run. Maybe this time I would let it continue into the crash itself to see if I could have done anything to save my brother during that final collision. I had to force myself to face that memory again. I had to keep trying, keep tweaking my initial mood or my approach to keep me from provoking my brother over the edge. I couldn’t move on.

I had to know if I could have gotten it right.

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