Claymore by Christian Wiemer  It seems that time does manage to heal some wounds, but not all. We sat down in the chairs, turned on the PS2, and started playing our favorite game, Star Wars Battlefront. During the loading screen after a conquest, I looked down at his hand only to stare at the scar lined across his thumb. I ignored the quaking despair inside and brought up some comment about gaming. We managed to kindle a spark of a relationship through video games. When we were together, it seemed to be the only thing we talked about besides family business, but it was a start. The only other thing we could have talked about is the past, and that was something he wanted to avoid. For four years he has never mentioned the incident to me after the day it happened, nor has he told anyone the real reason he has the scar. It’s a subject we both wanted to avoid, so we just gamed. “Ha! Dylan, you suck!” “Eat shit, Rooster!” His nickname for me has been Rooster for as long as I can remember. I was given the name by my uncle because one day, when my brother, mother, and I were visiting family in Scotland more than a decade ago, I ran into my grandmother’s house with an egg from the nearby chicken coop screaming, “Gran! Gran! The rooster laid an egg!” Thus, my uncle started calling me Rooster with his deep Scottish accent. My brother, Dylan, following my uncle, began to exploit my new name to the fullest. Every Christmas or birthday card was addressed to Rooster and every picture, craft, or painting of a rooster was always pointed out so that I would be reminded of my barnyard friends. “Has Rooster laid any eggs today?” “Dylan…god damnit.” Besides writing it to me in cheeky letters, the times he called me Rooster the most were when we were playing video games upstairs in our old playroom back home in Charlotte, North Carolina. This room is relatively barren besides a spare bed, the TV, gaming systems, and two chairs. However, in the past, this gray-brown room was the site of a glorious Lego battlefield spanning the entire floor, which Dylan and I orchestrated throughout our younger years. It was here that together we built historical battlegrounds and epic castles where medieval knights and clone troopers defended their homes from the unending hordes of Separatist droids and rampaging barbarians. If the battle grew stale, then we would call upon the harbingers of ruin who were, of course, a small collaboration of samurai and various members of the Jedi Counsel. Dylan and I spent hours on end crafting brilliant machines of war like droid starfighters, a foot-and-a-half tall AT-AT, X-wings, A-wings, Y-wings, and of course, the Millennium Falcon. While I put the finishing touches on the ships, Dylan would arm our soldiers to the teeth with mixes and matches of weaponry. It was not uncommon to find a pirate with a Star Wars blaster or a Jedi with a bow and arrow. Even when the floor was literally littered with Legos, we created to our hearts’ content, together. But now the room is empty. After Dylan went to boarding school when I was ten, I had no one else to build Legos with. I had no one else to plan epic conquests with. So, eventually they were all stored and put away. It takes two to wage war. Without our Legos, we had to find other means to combat each other. As I spent less and less time with him, he grew more and more distant. Even when he visited he seemed different. Some unknown force had eaten away at his sense of joy and lightheartedness. He rarely smiled. His brow weighed heavy on his squinted eyes as if he were in chronic pain. He became tense. His seasons of competitive sports added muscle and edge to his body. Scars and stretch marks formed on his shoulders from growth and veins began to pop out down the length of his arm to his knuckles and through his fingers. His chin sharpened and his soft, brown hair cut shorter to the typical preppy side sweep. He was aggressive, and his eyes began to see the pathology in the home life we lived, which at the time I could not yet see. In the late nights I could hear him constantly fighting and yelling with my mother, roughing through a trail that I would eventually and unintentionally follow. He became almost like a third parent to me. But he used a much stricter tone than I was accustomed to. Anytime I messed up on some meager task, he would heavily scold me until I got it right or eventually stormed off. He hated it when I swore, especially to him. One night, in some trivial argument, I called him a bitch. “Call me that again and I’ll beat the shit out of you!” “What? You mean call you a bitch? Well it’s bloody true!” I don’t think my feet ever touched the ground as he thundered after me. I could feel the adrenaline rushing through me and my heart sinking deeper into my chest as I ran into my room, grabbed my wooden sword, locked the door, and braced myself against it. I could feel a shockwave pierce though my back as he slammed into the door pushing me away from the force. And in one more slam with not a beat to spare, shards of the door flew to the floor and my eyes were locked with a familiar opposing set with a foreign fury. My grip of the sword weakened and my knees buckled in fear of the tremendous force before me. All I could do was try to shield myself as he threw me hard to the floor and started kicking me repeatedly. Fortunately, my mother saved me before Dylan’s kicks could leave any bruises. She was the hero then. But in some cases, the roles between my mother and Dylan were reversed. He would protect me when my mother would yell and swear at us. He did everything he could to syphon every attack away from me and take the damage for himself. He even pulled me away from home to our neighbor’s house when our mom told us to “fuck off” in her drunken rage. Dylan could rarely forgive people, and I could forgive no matter what, for better or for worse. He tried to warn me that these situations would only worsen, but I could not listen. I could only forgive. As the years went on, we only grew more and more distant. Our friendship slowly diminished, but I wanted to hold on to it like a lost man in a desert conserving his very last sips of precious water. However, what little life remained was cut away in one swing. Like any other night, when Dylan was home for the weekend, he was playing as loud as he could on his guitar with his usual heavy brow, and I was alone outside playing with the Scottish claymore I had recently gotten at the Renaissance Faire. I could have picked my shorter and much sharper sword, but the claymore was new, so it held priority. At the time, he was sixteen, and I was just twelve. That night I didn’t want to deal with either Dylan or Mom. They were both fighting earlier, and Mom was fussing about how Dylan is only at boarding school because Dad wants him to be away from her or some messed up argument that Mom always manages to fabricate. They had yelled and screamed, and I heard swear words that I never even knew existed. I was tired of them both. Eventually, Mom told us to come to the kitchen for dinner. Dylan reluctantly put away his guitar, and I put my sword through a loop at my side, which I had fashioned from a bandana. It was by no means a proper sheath as it only held the sword in place and didn’t cover the blade. While Dylan and I were eating next to each other, Mom, despite us telling her not to talk about it, reminded us that we needed to rake and bag the leaves in the morning. Hearing that was the equivalent of a thousand fingernails scratching on a chalkboard for both of us, I immediately groaned in misery. Dylan told me just to do it and get it over with, but I was too stubborn to not fight this task. The three of us argued and argued, but the fight soon became between Dylan and me. As the heat and tension rose between us, we threw barrages of insults at one another while Mom tried to calm us down. I could see Dylan’s heavy brow curve deeper and his hands clench with popping veins. After he called me a lazy piece of shit one too many times, I broke out the “B” word. His face contorted and snarled in anger as he shot up, slammed his stool to the floor, and punched me hard in the face. He tried to grab me but I turned toward him, drew my sword, and he instantly backed away. He stood distant as I held myself tall and ready with the blade parallel to my face pointing towards him. “Are you gonna use that?” “I will if I have to.” My mother screamed, “Dylan! Your hand!” Blood poured down the length of his thumb and dripped onto the floor. Each stream ended in drops of blood that fell like teardrops staining both the floor and my eyes. I looked down to see a streak of crimson lining the edge of the blade quivering in my hand. I threw the sword on the table and looked to my brother to see him staring at me dead in the eye while my mother urgently tried to clean and wrap the wound. I could only stand, watch, and tremble. I had cut a large vein in his thumb, so we had to go the hospital and get him stitches. I was silent during the entire trip. Even though he never looked at me in the car, I could feel his anger weighing down on my soul. I knew I had just severed the relationship between us. From then on we would never speak to one another unless we had to and only if it was in person. He never reached out to me, and I never reached out to him. I forgot what it was like to have a brother. I haven’t heard the word “brother” come out of his mouth in half a decade. I thought I lost him. Fortunately, it seems that time does manage to heal some wounds, but not all.