Nebraska Center for Writers

BRONTOSAURUS
by JM Huscher

I.

My fingers curled themselves around
Danny's trachea like a house fire
collapsing in a burst of spark.
I remember the sound of him
choking on his own laughter while
my scalp oozed bloody from where
he had ripped my hair out. I kept
squeezing until I could see him
afraid of me.

That was the last one.

II.

Brontosaurus.

Because it took up two whole pages
in my science book, I imagined that
something so big must have lived
for a thousand years, and back then
I wanted to live forever.

III.

It was probably summer.
It was probably something broken.
It was probably an accident.
I discovered the strength of my
right arm and the shape of my
brothers mouth
wrapped around
a scream. I can still see it.

That was the first one.

IV.

Brontosaurus.
Every single time, and
I don't remember what
would have come second.

V.

It was my mother who saw it first.

Matt hid himself under the dim streetlights
that guarded our house to spray paint
thick lines on square letters
f-a-g-g-o-t.
He had been deliberate with each
sidewalk staining stroke—
left the empty blue can
in our driveway like
awful punctuation. He was
smaller than me, but I already
had a reputation for
writing my name
in softer cursive, and the boys here
were more interested in flattened
knuckles and knowing who stood
where. Matt asked me if I wanted to
do something about it.

I said no.

VI.

In all of the coloring books,
the pictures of brontosaurus
are exactly the same: the husband
is eating the entire top of a tree while
the wife twists her neck down
to suck up a lake.

Dilophosaurus and stegosaurus.
T-Rex and triceratops.
The other dinosaurs were always
pictured hungry and circling their prey
backed up into a corner, and you could
almost smell the inevitable blood spill.

VII.

You always give in too easily,
she said. So I told her about the
electricity in my fist the first time
I hit someone, and about how
it was gone the second time. I
told her about
the sound
of Danny
choking.

I still get scared by a lot of things,
I said. I always did. Even when
I was little. We used to make-believe
that we were dinosaurs in the yard,
and I was the only
kid who picked

VIII.

Brontosaurus.
He was so big, he
never had to
fight.

Reprinted with permission
Copyright © 2009
by JM Huscher


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