Obliterate by Glen Pourciau


My brother seems to be always checking boxes, pursuing activities and goals he’s assigned himself. He’s striving to actualize himself, as he puts it, to make himself a more peaceful and clarified person. He sees himself on some inner planet with such refined air that few people could breathe it. Our sister admires him for being a searcher. In my opinion, she views him from too great a distance to see him clearly. He’s the brother she looks up to, not me. I believe his mission serves an idealized version of himself. Meanwhile, he ignores me and more or less ignores her. He shows no interest in our current lives.

After not hearing from him on my birthday or over the winter holidays or after I sent him a message saying I was ill, I decided not to put up with his act anymore. I made up my mind to tell him off in person. I wanted him to see my eyes and face. I didn’t delude myself I’d help or change him. I planned to do it solely to release tension, which had been mounting inside me for years, and to see if my tension would enter him. I drove to his house, where I hadn’t been invited in years. I couldn’t know for sure when he’d be there, so I went in the morning, early for a visit.

I rang his bell, and before long he opened up. It would be an understatement to say he was surprised to see me. He seemed almost not to know who I was. He acted as if I were a specimen that could be contagious.

“Hello,” I said and waited for him to greet me. He said nothing. “May I come in?”

He hesitated. What did he think was going to happen? Was he considering asking me to make an appointment? He stepped back, leaving me room to pass.

“I hope this isn’t an imposition,” I said, mocking the absence of hospitality.

“Wait,” he said and put his hand up between us. “I don’t want you here.”

“I came here only to speak the truth. You are interested in the truth above all, aren’t you?”

“Maybe not yours,” he replied.

His words contained the seed of his presumed superiority. I inhaled deeply, reacting to his implied insult. Before I could answer, he shut the door and turned the bolt lock, his rudeness and disrespect igniting me. I imagined throwing a chair through his window, but I had no chair. I looked for a big rock in his flowerbed. Was that the way I should express myself? Why give him evidence he was right to shut me out?

“I’ll be back,” I yelled. “Don’t think you can obliterate me.”

I headed down his walkway, furious he’d managed to run me off before I could say what was on my mind. I started my car and plunged forward, shaking my fist in case he was watching from a window. I didn’t remember until I reached an impasse that his street ended in a cul-de-sac. I made the loop, thinking that perhaps fate was directing me back to my brother, telling me I shouldn’t let him off so easily. I stopped at his house and strode up his steps and knocked, but he refused to come to the door. I pulled out my phone and called him, but he wouldn’t pick up. Was he implying I was unworthy or that I could be dangerous? Was he attempting to leave me with an indelible memory? I went back to my car, addressing him in my mind and nursing a notion he’d regret resisting me.

As I drove away and turned a corner my phone rang, its noise jarring my eyes from the road. It was him, probably wanting to claim he’d been in the restroom and couldn’t get to the door or possibly warning me never to return. I didn’t care to hear his excuses or threats. He wasn’t the only one who could blow people off. Why would he imagine I’d answer him? If I did answer, would he hang up on me, laughing at my futility and how angry he’d made me? A bump interrupted my thoughts, my car rolling over the curb and into a stop sign, the airbag smashing my face. I cursed his destructiveness, shouting at him as I struggled with the bag that none of this would have happened if he’d condescended to speak to me.




Glen Pourciau’s second collection of stories, View, was published in 2017 by Four Way Books. His first story collection, Invite, won the Iowa Short Fiction Award. He’s had stories published by Jellyfish Review, AGNI Online, The Collagist, Little Star, New England Review, The Paris Review, Post Road, and others.

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