The Revolutionary’s Brother

Aleksandr Ulyanov, 1887

The Revolutionary’s Brother
by Lita Kurth

Oh Sasha, Sasha. Your black hair. When they came to the back door and whispered that your protest hung from a noose, in the centre of the city, I said nothing and did not move. I was a cold stone with an earthquake inside.

To the gallows we went in broad daylight, heads up, and carried home your body labelled ‘traitor’. Mother washed and dressed you in your wool suit and vest. Surrounded you with flowers and mourned behind drawn curtains, mourned without the funeral wreath on our front door. Friends stayed away.

Mother, the winter is cold. Will there be fire tonight? I searched for embers among the angry.

Trailing sparks behind me, I fled to Paris, city of luminescence, love, and philosophy where blossoms hung on trees, then fell apart. The ground was white. My paper was white. I scribbled secret pamphlets to distribute. With amethyst eyes, I rated the comrades. This one: trustworthy. That one: weak. This one: a traitor. Fire tonight.

A cold hard train brought me home. Heading eastward across Europe, devouring coal, the engine shrieked to an iron land. It threw off cinders that sizzled red on the snow, then turned black and ghostly grey. Ragged kids waited by the tracks and scrambled to gather up the cinders.

Mother! There will be fire tonight.

Ice gathered on my goatee; forty below zero meant nothing. Rifles, rags, bottles, and gasoline, we assembled provisions as if for a party. First we tipped the bottles up and drank them empty. Vodka: clear, like water, but hot, not cold. Swaying, we set the bottles in the snowbank. For now. Explosive new wine will shatter old bottles. I’ll cover every window in black, put the city on its knees.

Mother, goodbye. Tonight there will be fire, and every night, fire.

Lita Kurth MFA- Rainier Writers Workshop, has published in three genres and been nominated for Pushcart Prizes and Best of the Net Awards. She teaches creative writing and co-founded a San Jose’s Flash Fiction Forum. “This is the Way We Wash the Clothes” won an award from Lunchticket.

Photograph of Aleksandr Ilyich Ulyanov, 1887, from Российский государственный архив социально-политической истории. Ф. 395. Оп. 1. Д. 132. Л. 1, via Wikimedia Commons.