When I was six years old, I broke my arm falling out of a tree in our backyard. My big brother Aiden rushed to my side, the grass leaving green streaks as he slid to his knees. He gripped my shoulder while I wailed, muttering shhh, shhh. His eyes squeezed tightly shut, and I wanted to yell at him to get Mom, but he held me fast. Slowly, numbness spread over my arm from where his hands clasped on my bony shoulder. It tingled, like it’d fallen asleep and was prickling back awake. The numbness seeped over the pain in my arm, and I watched open-mouthed like a fish as the bones righted themselves and the tan skin of my arm smoothed. Aiden let go of my shoulder and grinned at me.
“See what I did?” he said breathlessly. “I didn’t know if it would work!”
I turned my arm over, inspecting it. I poked at my forearm where, previously, the skin had been slightly tented and bent at the wrong angle.
“What was that?” I asked, my eyes wide.
“I’m not sure really, but the other day I fell and scraped my knee, but I touched it and it was gone!” Aiden exclaimed. “But it worked on you too! Isn’t that cool?”
I grinned along with him. “Yeah, you’re like a super hero!”
He was eight at the time.
Aiden was stolen when he was ten. I was eight. I remember the police patrol going past for curfew like normal, lights sweeping past the house. Then guys in riot gear burst in through the front door.
Mom screamed and shoved me behind her. She yelled her elder son’s name but he was upstairs in his room. The men in the armored gear stomped up the stairs and all I could hear, my face buried in Mom’s skirt, was the muffled crash of a door banging open and scraping footsteps.
They dragged my brother from our home, a ten-year-old cuffed and gagged like a criminal. He dripped blood onto the carpet; they’d given him a gash on the head, but the skin there was already stitching itself back together. He looked back once, wrenching to twist around in the armored guys’ grasp. I remember seeing his skin pale as a ghost, his face streaked with tears and his eyes so big I could see white all the way around his gray irises. I remember trying to run to him, and my mom clutching me to her, sobbing.
They shoved Aiden into a black van and I never saw him again.