He watched his brother move. He felt his own muscles twitching in response, felt his heart pumping blood to his feet and arms until they were in motion and he was his brother’s shadow. The music flowed through his fingertips and out through his toes, the rhythm echoing in his bones. The two of them ran across the room as the music buoyed them on, carried their bodies over the carpet and the couch and brought them crashing into one another. His brother shouted out the name of a song and his mom found it and played it for them on her phone. The two of them stood still, waiting for the song to warm up and move their limbs for them. Whenever there was music, their mom was happy. She would smile and hum or sing in her deep, raspy alto. He had heard his dad tell her that her voice didn’t match her body. He would rest a palm against her cheek and lean down to kiss the top of her head.
The sun shone through the window and the light licked his feet. He could almost feel the cat scratch of its tongue, the warm breath between its teeth. Whenever his brother shouted directions, his body followed, and his mom laughed and clapped. She turned the volume up and the three of them floated in the music as it surrounded them. He could see the notes hiding in his mom’s hair, the motes of dust floating around the top of her head like a halo. He could see the tune welling inside her tummy before bubbling up and escaping from her mouth, the words low and deep. He tried to sing with her but didn’t know the words. Instead, he hummed and twisted around his mom’s legs, trying to convince her to dance. She obliged and the two of them moved across the carpet, their toes finding purchase in the plush carpet below them, propelling them forward and backward into twists and spins.
His brother came over and his mom grabbed one of his hands as well, each of them dangling on her warms as she twirled them around and around. His brother shouted at her to never stop, to keep spinning them forever. He could picture the three of them, spinning as the sun sank and the darkness swallowed them, the night lights turning on and dousing them in their soft glow. His dad would come home and call for them and find them spinning and spinning, bodies and legs and hair all a blur. He would grab his brother and him, pull them up into the air and his mother would float off, still spinning. He knew that if that happened, she would never come back.
When it was just the three of them, he could see her growing lighter, her muscles growing loose and slippery like she was preparing to shed them, to slip out of them and leave everything behind. He had seen a look on her face sometimes like she wasn’t seeing anything. He knew it was his brother’s and his responsibility to keep her tethered to earth, to keep her with them, to keep her from disappearing - his father didn’t notice. He would come home and kiss her and hug the two of them and throw them across the bed, missing how far away her eyes looked, how empty. Never seeing how delicate her skin looked like a gust of air would send her flying like a dandelion puff.