For the whole trip we’d been at each other’s throats.
For eighteen years we’d been at each other’s throats.
We stood in line at a popsicle stand in Santorini, sunburnt.
“I can’t believe you convinced me to come to these islands with only a backpack,” my brother said to the back of the woman ahead of us. “And you forgot the fucking towels.”
The woman’s back did not realize the hatred being directed toward it but, I caught it on the wind.
“How was I supposed to know that ferry ride was going to cost us ten euro!” I tell the woman’s elbow.
My brother rubbed his forehead till dried skin flaked onto his nose.
“It’s not about the damn ferry. It’s the ferry, the towels, losing the jacket you bought. It’s the walking off and the drinking and wanting to spend all our damn money all the damn time.”
I could have hit him right then and there but, he was bigger than me. I scowled instead.
“Well you always want to do these stupid tours and spend all our time in front of shit paintings. You can’t let loose for five damn seconds.”
I glared at him, he glared at the woman’s back. The woman’s back fled the scene. It was replaced with a picture of a bored tan face peering out from a window. The face said something. I didn’t understand. My brother told the face “Popsicle.” The face vanished. It returned with a popsicle.
“Four Euro,” it said.
“For a damn popsicle!” my brother cried. But, the face had become a picture again and could not respond. More dead skin fell into my brother’s palm, on his cheeks and down to the sandy ground. He turned to me.
“Screw it. You want a damn popsicle?”
I nodded, scared.
“Two popsicles,” he told the picture. The face vanished again. It returned and laid two popsicles down on the counter.
“Eight euro,” it said.
My brother snatched up the popsicles, replacing them with some money, and stormed off to a rocking chair by the sea. I slipped into the one next to him. He tossed a popsicle to me.
“Can you believe this was four euros? For a stick of frozen damn ice!” He began to chuckle as he broke the wrapper open and took a first lick. As soon as he did he burst out laughing.
“Four fucking euros!” he yelled at the popsicle.
I opened my popsicle and took a lick. As soon as I did, it felt as if the air had filled itself with punchlines. I began laughing hysterically.
“And the ferry! Ten euro for WHAT! A two-minute trip to a crap beach.” He rolled over himself in the chair.
I caught my breath. “And can you believe the money we’ve wasted on nonsense! So much stupid stuff we’ve lost!”
My brother looked ready to burst. Our faces were more red than when we woke up on the black-sands beach after hours of baking. The dried skin had turned soggy on his forehead as he sweat with laughter.
We laughed until the popsicles melted all over our hands.
We caught our breath, sighed heavily, and went back at each other’s throats.