wild spanish oranges


a young man's older brother is shot down in a rural florida town.

  • Genre: Historical fiction
  • Length: Short
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i was sixteen the summer my brother asa was shot down on our mama's front porch.

i remember that july was hot and rainy. the dirt roads had turned to mud, and in the shallow gray puddles thousands of fattening tadpoles wriggled and squirmed. i remember sometimes asa would dip his bare feet into the dingy water, letting the tadpoles gather among his toes as they sank slowly into the cool of the muck. staring out at the cabbage palms and gaunt slash pines, planted up to his ankles in water and earth, he seemed to become part of the land itself. asa, the wild one; asa, the brave--the dredgeman, the alligator hunter. my older brother. he was twenty-four then but i could have thought he was ageless. he was as alive and restless and enduring as sawgrass prairies and cypress swamps.

we could not know it, then, but he was already dying. and when she showed up on the other side of our split-rail fence, wearing that cotton dress, he was dead.