Remember Us, an excerpt:
When Charlie, Ben and I were little, we played superheroes more than we played all our other pretend games combined. We’d make our visiting cousins sit by the maple tree for hours, ropes flung all around them, while Ben and I fought off the dark villains side by side.
That’s what I thought about on those days as we sat on either side of Dad’s bed, taking turns fetching the paper or helping him walk down the hall. He didn’t need both of us to help, but it made us feel better, made me feel better.
I wished that we – Ben and I – could put on our capes once more and fight off the litany of bad days to give him a whole string of great ones from now until forever and ever, amen. I wished for it with all my might.
The doctors didn’t say much, and I became paralyzed, fixated on the reality of death. It was as if, for the first time, I allowed myself to acknowledge there truly was an end in this life.
The knowledge settled in my bones, seducing me with the notion of staying here, caught in time, of family too, forever.
“We need an army of stormtroopers to rescue Dad.” Ben pushed his glasses toward his face as Dad slept under a blue blanket between us. It was past my bedtime too, but I was wide awake. My eyes hurt and there was a crick in the confines of my neck which I massaged at intervals.
“Well, strictly speaking, I don’t think we’d want stormtroopers,” I offered him a superior expression and shook my head.
“Ummm, I am not turning away any help,” he waved his hand over Dad’s insensate form.
“Stormtroopers are part of the evil empire, Ben.”
“Wait, what? I thought they were good.” His eyes were wide.
“Stormtroopers were only ‘good’ for episode 1, 2, and half of 3.”
“Well what happened in the second half of 3?” He kicked off his shoes and placed his patterned socks on the end of the bed.
“They turned on the Jedi halfway through 3.”
“So they were bad halfway through 3 until forever?”
“Yes. Do you not pay attention when you watch these movies every year?”
“Who says I watch them every year?”
“You know, May the 4th? Revenge of the 5th? Never mind. They were clones in 6, 7, and 8. But in the new movie they aren’t clones anymore. They are normal people who were brainwashed since childhood.”
“The stormtroopers. Do you really not know this stuff?” He put his hands on his head. His slim fingers looked stark and white against his dark hair. Ben smirked and gave me a slow wink.
“Maybe I was testing you.” He held my gaze, and I squinted at him to gauge his sincerity. “Because what Dad really needs is The Force.” He rolled up his plaid sleeves, a giveaway that he was getting serious.
“Ben, I don’t care. I’m suddenly exhausted.” Ben knew more than me on any subject and now that I knew he’d been kidding, this wasn’t a hornet’s nest I wanted to disturb.
“Important it is.”
“No, it’s not.”
“I’m just saying if we’re going to make a galaxy-wide plan for Dad, we’re going with mine.”
“Come on Reese. Stay with me. The Force. Dad needs The Force.”
“Hmmmmm.” I rotated my neck back and forth steadily.
“Yoda? Luke Skywalker? Obi Wan? The Force is a metaphysical and ubiquitous power.”
“Isn’t Luke a twin?”
“Yeah, with Leai.”
“Luke and Leia Skywalker.”
“Not really what?”
“Technically Leia’s last name is Organa. And she is a princess.”
“Okay, I knew that. All hail Carrie Fisher.”
“But she is badass because later she becomes a general.”
“I can be badass.”
“She lost everything and was never once tempted by the Dark Side.”
“I can be badass.”
“I believe it.” He leaned forward and patted me on the head.