Amy Riddle


My brother dies sixteen seconds after the video starts. He stands on the ledge of an apartment building, fourteen stories and four feet of wall. Fierce wind thrashes his hair, puffs out his jacket making him look fat. He looks down, then steps backward to the safety of the rooftop, disappearing into shadow. At second twelve, the clock counts down, he leaps over the wall, back to the ground, face to the sky. The green-tint and low-resolution of the streaming blur him into the balconies, flashing strobe light. The fall takes three seconds: fourteen stories at ten feet per story at thirty-two feet per second per second, allowing for wind resistance. My brother hits the ground, hidden by a patch of trees. The video runs eight more seconds. The cinematographer says, Jesus Christ.


When I searched for articles with my brother’s name, I found the video. Contributors have added new versions, with special features, borrowed graphics; they’ve made music videos of my brother’s death. One version has sound effects: my brother’s bones crunch in a liquid squelch as he hits the ground, unseen. I hate these artists, but I watch their films, rate them with red stars. I burn copies of the original to CD’s. When the website deletes his death, I keep my brother, forever falling, hidden in green plastic cases on my bookshelf. I watch the video on my computer, with the door locked and the curtains closed, like pornography.


Euphemism Campus Box 5555 Illinois State University Normal, IL 61790