When we were kids Peter and I would fight a lot. I don't really know how we became rivals, but we did. I've always had a resentment towards him... despite my mother telling me it hasn't always been that way.
The most prevalent memory I have of him was when we almost killed ourselves. We were young, I think I was almost nine. John had gone off with our stepfather for some event upstate, and our mother was off at work, so we were home alone. Peter got bored, and since he couldn't or wouldn't leave me alone, he decided to take me down to the train yard so we could play in some of the rock pits.
We walked down to town, and I remember so much about walking through it. It was Summer and blazing hot. The whole town seemed to be writhing around, sweating and tearing up from the heat. But, Peter and I and any other kid thrived on it...we took to the Summer with gusto, and sucked out everything it had to offer.
Before going to the rock pit, we fucked around the town. Got some cheap candy from the store, swam a bit, even played around the sand pits. But we always kept our eyes on the rock pit. I don't know why, it wasn't like there was anything really interesting there. I guess because Peter wanted to go there. I think it might have been a personal sanctuary for him, to run away from home.
When we reached the rock pit, Peter jumped into it, and looked through the shit at the bottom. I tried to make my way down towards him, being careful not to fall and bust my ass. He looked through the junk at the bottom... broken coke bottles, a busted radio, a few beer cans... nothing of value. Disappointed, Peter then climbed up the other side of the pit, and got out a book.
I don't remember what book it was. He was always reading books. It might have been a Hemingway novel. He loved depressing writers like Hemingway.
I sat next to him in silence. I don't think I really knew what else to do besides that. I felt lost without John to cling to. Peter, visibly annoyed by how close I was to him, shrugged me off and scooted a few feet away.
That was when the restless loneliness began. When that happened, I would act out, and get hyper, in order try and cope with the emptiness somehow. This time, I had the genius idea of coping by pelting Peter with various hard pebbles.
This plan backfired, as you can imagine. At first, when I was throwing the smaller pebbles, Peter tried to play it cool and ignore me. But then I threw the larger rocks, so he didn't really have any choice but to acknowledge me. This time, he acknowledged me by throwing rocks at me too.
We were in the most epic rock fight in the entire history of mankind. Pebbles flew like Soviet drones and rocks soared like American missiles. We were at a bloody, scuffled stalemate for a few minutes, until I accidentally picked up a shard of glass and pelted Peter with it. It sliced his cheek wide open, and he fell to the ground, wincing in pain.
I knew I had fucked up then, so I dropped my rocks and tried to back up and out of the rock pit. I needed to get a head start or...
He was already climbing up after me. Before I could even defend myself, he was already on top of me, punching me. Looking back, he wasn't seriously trying to hurt me. He was just a little angry. But, back then, it seemed like he was legitimately going to kick my ass to kingdom come.
So I slipped out from under him, I was good at that, and climbed up to the edge of the rock pit. He stumbled and slipped from under himself, and I laughed. He looked up at me, and I saw tears in his eyes.
And then I said something that I think I will regret to the grave.
He looked straight up to my, with his blue, blue eyes. And I won't ever forget those eyes in that exact moment. It was just one of those moments where...I kind of really noticed his existence. That he was my oldest brother, and he was there; he was there, when my father was not.
"..What the fuck did you just say to me?"
"You heard me. Coward! Baby!"
He stops hurrying up after me, and just stood up tall... tallest I've ever seen him stand, even if he wasn't at his full height yet. Even if he was only a child. At the very same time, the sound of a monstrous freight train echoed in the rock pit. Peter looks at a rising, billowing smoke cloud in the distance.
He descends to the bottom of the rock pit, and then climbs up the other side of it.
Towards the train tracks.
I guess that was about when I felt the fear begin to nudge at my senses.
Peter steps into the middle of the tracks, and then looks at me from across the pit. He had that dangerous smirk splashed across his face that I would eventually inherit. An ominous Summer breeze brushed over the trees, and I made my way around the pit and to Peter.
"Are you seriously about to-?"
"This'll show you who's the true coward!"
With just those words, I was convinced that this was a challenge I could not step down from. So I step into the middle of the tracks and face my brother.
"That's you, Peter. You're just like a little girl."
Peter's smirk wasn't wiped away like I had hoped it to be. I hoped he would have gotten angry and then chase me off of the tracks. He didn't. He stood there, readying himself to jump.
The smoke crawled up into the sky as it got closer and closer. He puts his hand onto my shoulder and holds me there, as if he's making sure I don't run away.
Peter's a stubborn bastard. And I am too. So even when we saw that train shooting towards us,we didn't dare move. But... that train got so close, and I panicked.
I tried to jump off, but Peter was holding onto me. And I'll never forget seeing his face.... he was in a daze. As if he was in a suicidal trance. I told him I would knock him over to get away. He didn't listen. I swore I would knock him off his feet.
The tracks rumbled and shook as if the ground underneath us would break and rip and fall asunder. We could smell the smokestack of the train now. It covered the Summer aroma that clung to us.
I yelled again at him, but he wasn't listening. I swore, I swore I would knock him off his feet.
And that's what I did.
We rolled over, leg over leg, arm through arm, body under body; we tumbled over an edge and crashed through rocks and bushes, and were then pushed into the river. We could feel the train roar through above, blowing its whistle. Tiny pebbles and dust rose up from the river bed, billowing up like the train's smoke. Our blood rose along with it, in between the two of us.
I don't remember anything after that. I just know that's the day Peter broke my trust. And when I stopped looking up to him. Looking back, I don't know how much of that was Peter being a stupid shithead, and how much of that was him just being a kid with problems.
When I got the call about Peter's death, this was all I could think about. It hasn't let my mind since.