It’s something in the fibers

Marius G. Sipa @ Blood Orange Review

Tom Molanphy recounts the discomforts and crucial importance of hand-me-downs @ Blood Orange Review.
It’s dark in my brother’s closet. Brian, my other brother, rummages through bathroom drawers, rattling painkillers in their bottles. He’s checking for used razors, combs, brushes—anything with hair or skin or “part of Paul.” My Dad, on his knees in the living room, jimmies the lock on a long, black trunk, a keepsake of Paul’s from our Uncle Jack. He clears his throat in the deep, rumbling way he does before diving into a tough job. We’re each looking for what to take and what to leave.

A row of shoes line up one side of Paul’s closet. I lean down and slip my hand into the nearest loafer, and I’m reminded our bodies were different, head-to-toe. If I was female, people would say I’m “big-boned,” a sad attempt to make me feel better about my frame. Paul had three inches on me, easy, and where my hands and feet end in sausages, his fingers and toes were knuckley but thin, dexterous things that made children walk during his physical therapy career. We shared big eyes, a small gap in our front teeth, and scars from teenage battles with acne. His battles were longer and his scars were deeper, and I picture the sharp grooves on his cheeks that would disappear with a smile or deepen with a glare.

I push my lumpy fingers deep into his shoes, but I can’t reach the tips. The shoes are old, the leather cracked, and I remember the first hand-me-downs from Paul, the pair of loafers that almost got me beat-up in second grade at Holy Trinity Catholic School. I’m surrounded by his things, things that only tell part of his story. But they are the parts I can literally hold onto.
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