My sister in the unbeating heart

My sister is somewhere in the lesser Los Angeles area, the unbeating heart of it, on the wrong side of Commonwealth Street. I was sick and going through her closet, the light was bad, and now she’s gone. The house was cold, the floors, the walls, the tub, everything. People go down south and disappear in the dead streets, the dead houses. Sometimes she stole things she hadn’t mean to. She had a shirt of our father’s, the kind he would wear to work in the summertime when he would come through the door at the end of the hot day and find us in the cool of the house. I wish he were here to take back his clothes in the closets of dead cities. When we lived on Terrace Street I could hear my sister laughing in the rooms; I don’t know what it was about, she laughed all the time into the tape recorder. The morning heat would burn up the grasses, you could smell the sun wasting the cool earth and pines, and the birds even sang wildly for that. I was just coming to, electrified in the short night. I took my body down the street in the early heat, I took it with me.

Jennifer E. Brown is a writer from San Francisco. Her work appears in Lungfull!, The Indiana Review, Fourteen Hills, The New Orleans Review, Digital Americana, and other American literary journals. Presently she has been nominated by Short, Fast & Deadly for the 2016 Pushcart Prize. She holds a master’s degree in Creative Writing from San Francisco State University and works at Mills College in Oakland, California.