What I remember most in the whole of my silent world is the sound of my brother’s voice.
It haunts me, his voice calling me. And I start every time the remembrance of it moves across my consciousness. Start right out of the calm and coolness of the world without words and back… back into the world of elocution and warmth and motion. The world of the living. It is never for long, and it is only in part, but it is a going back in a small, faded daydream of living. And I am grateful for it every time I find myself jerking back into the approximation of a body and the sound of my brother’s voice.
It always starts with this, the quiet question that pulls at me and invites me to accept the remembrance. It is an impossible pull despite the all-encompassing understanding this is no more than the process of memoriam. Every soul makes for itself its own heaven, and this is merely mine. The sound of my brother’s voice and his thoughtful gaze and quizzical expression as he looks up at me.
Dream always starts here. With my brother calling out for me, and his hand stealing into mine once he finds me in the upper hall of our small home. His hand feels so tiny there, and he tugs me toward the window at the end of the hall. It is a low thing, and gives no view, but that isn’t why we both love it. The window gives on the shingled roof, and it is the roof we both want.
“You promised to show me the stars, aniki.”
My feet continually trip to keep up with my brother’s eagerness, and this has nothing to do with not wanting to do as he asks, and everything to do with wanting the memoriam to last, to linger, and not let me go. If only I could live in this moment forever, I would. But this is not how the world without words is, and the memory will not last, cannot last, longer than it existed in the world where I was born a living man.
I had been taken out of that world and could not go back now. But I could have this. I look down and my arm is stretched between my brother and I, connecting us even as his words do. It is his words which hold the most weight here. They are solid and real and I struggle to find mine, even in this memory, because I am so unused to words now. After so long.
“Su… kun… a.” His name drifts from my lips as a disused collection of syllables that swell my heart and convince my fingers to curl tighter around his. My brother. My younger brother. “Sukuna.”
He glances back at me, face still questioning, but neither I nor the persistence of memory can slow the memoriam. In a way it is relentless.
Relentless… and yet as welcoming as my brother’s hand in mine. He pulls me to the window and together we crawl out of it and onto the gritty, sandpaper rough shingles. He is small and still so very eager. I am older and capable of seeing the danger as well as the splendor, and so I hold him with one arm even as I maneuver myself onto the roof.
He squirms but stays near me and allows me to take the lead here. I wear the long cloak Gargantuan’s nights require and I spread it below me and open the folds so Sukuna can cuddle into me and I can wrap us both in the soft fabric. I smell his hair even in this memory and press my cheek to the top of his head because this parody of life can only reflect what was, and part of me had known even as a living man I needed to cherish every moment I had with the one in my arms.
“Aniki!” he demands after a time, tugging at the hem of my cloak. “The stars, aniki!”
Yes… the stars…
I miss them in my world without words. I miss them, but nothing can compare to the loneliness I feel without the warmth of the one I hold in the memoriam. My arms constrict around him, possessive but soft so he can wiggle away if he really wishes too. My heart swells painfully when he does not, and I tilt my head back to show him what he wants.
What he wanted in this memory the memoriam replays for me in my version of heaven.
“There, Sukuna,” I say, pointing up with one arm that is instantly cold outside the cloth of my cloak. “That’s Earth.”
“Where we came from, right, aniki?”
“That’s right, Sukuna,” I reply, my face again sinking to rest in his hair and my eyes fixed on the distant flicker. A thing like a blinkmoth caught in the chill upper air. Carefully I reach down and take his tiny hands in mine and lift them up to frame that obscure sparkle. “When you were too young to remember, Earth’s atmosphere dissipated and all the humans like us boarded the space trains for other worlds so far away they looked like stars. Our train brought us here, to Gargantuan.”
He nods so hard and with such enthusiasm I wrap one arm back around his middle so as to ensure he doesn’t slip away down the shingles. But this is a needless concern. In the next instant of replayed memory he turns to me with a shining face and carries on the tale.
“And all the trains were taken apart and used for materials to build our new home, right, aniki?”
“Yes,” I say, my voice tight once again as the memoriam begins to close around me and I begin to lose the ability to understand how to use words. “All… of the trains… except… one.”
The faded image of my brother shifts slightly in my arms and angles himself so he can see down into the street below our home and just a little further past the cobblestones. “The Soul Transit, right, aniki?”
I nod because my voice is almost gone, but when his face turns to me I cannot resist giving him a little more, even in this dream of a time that is gone.
“Yes, Sukuna. They left the Soul Transit because that is the train of the dead. It once carried those who died as humanity transversed the stars. Now it carries the souls of all who die so far away from the world of our birth, and from each other, back to a place where we can be together. Where we never need to be alone.”
The dream folds here. It always folds here. Partly because I have no more voice, no words to speak in order to maintain the memoriam, and you need words to uphold the approximation of the life you once lived. You need voice in order to hold yourself there in the world of the living, even if it is only in part and recollection.
And I have no more. I have used all to view this moment of warmth with the only family I carried with me out of my dying planet.
But… more than this the dream closes around me because here is the reminder of where I am, of where I truly am, and there is no continuance in daydream when you recall where you are.
Around me the world without words opens with the drifting lift of my eyelids. The silent rattle of the Soul Transit over rails that no one can see shivers through me, and I rest my head on the curve of the wall where window glass meets soft metal. There is no vocalization here, no resonation of any kind to disturb the peace of those who ride this car to our last destination.
I have been here the longest and have taken this path of memoriam more times over than any other because I do not exit our transport when it reaches the final stop. No, I wait and ride the course of the train’s route over and over again. Because he hasn’t come yet and will not leave him to ride these rails alone when at last his time of peace comes. I promised him we would go together, and so I stay here.
Stay even as the dream comes again and I shut my eyes to one world and open them again to a semblance of life.