Title: A Change of Grace
Chapter: 1 of 41
Isaac wandered aimlessly, not sure which direction to take. He knew Tay had a thing for the Dakota apartments. The John Lennon memorial, with it’s pretty view of the building, was one of his ‘places’, but he hadn’t found him there. The words he’d said jabbed at him, and he felt a growing urgency to find his brother. He wanted to talk, to tell him he didn’t mean what he’d said… at least about wishing him dead.
“Taylor, will you LISTEN to me?!” Isaac slammed the table in frustration, feeling anger start to build at the smirk on his brother’s face. Exasperation was quickly mutating into the desire to ram the CD player up his brother’s nose. “Turn that off and pay attention!”
Laughing lightly, Taylor hit the off button on the discman. Isaac was so furious, it was really quite funny. His eyes were actually starting to bug out. Pretty amazing for Mr. Cool. Forcing his face into an expression of polite interest, he raked the hair out of his face, laced his hands under his chin, and sat back, knowing full well he was only making the older boy angrier.
“Is something bothering you, Ike?”
Isaac took a breath, and pushed his voice into a normal register. “Tay, you know what’s wrong, and we have to talk about it… you got me into all kinds of…”
“Why Ike? Why do we always have to talk about everything? You sound like the Beavers dad, Ike. ‘Son… we have to talk…’ Ha. Ike… you got in trouble. Sucks to be you. WE don’t need to talk about anything, and I was listening to something…” He snickered to himself, knowing his overuse of his brother’s name would just irritate him more, and moved to turn the music on again, yanking his hand away as Isaac’s closed in around it.
“Tay… I got in trouble because of you. And you know it. Now…”
Taylor shook his head. No way. There was just no way he was letting Isaac even get the words out.”How do you figure that, Ike? Did I get in trouble, Ike? No. You did. So you must have done something wrong, not me.” He dropped his eyes, shrugging off the faint taste of guilt. He hadn’t done anything, Ike was just being anal like always.
“Tay you ditched me and snuck off. You didn’t tell anyone where you were, we spent the whole night trying to find you!”
Taylor rolled his eyes heavenward, and sighed deeply. “Ike, I was right there. I didn’t even go anywhere. Where was I when you found me? In the van. It’s pretty bad when a guy can’t go sit in the car without…”
“In the van with a girl Tay!”
“So?! I wasn’t anyplace far away, I was only in the…”
“I was responsible for you, you KNOW that, and you let me take the heat anyway!” Isaac’s calm tone was eroding rapidly, and he could feel the pressure building in his head. “Tay listen… please.” Something in his brother’s voice cut through, and Taylor sat back, the ill natured set lessening. Ike really sounded upset. “Okay Ike, what is it? Look, I’m sorry you got in trouble, I didn’t’ set out for that to happen, okay?” “No! Tay no it’s not.”
Isaac stood up, pacing in agitation. “Tay, it’s worse and worse every day. You sneak away, you lie about where you are, you…” He stopped, words backing up in his throat. He didn’t want to start finger pointing and hurling accusations. All that would do was put Tay on the defensive. Sighing, he sat down, aiming his words a little more gently. “Tay… I love you. And I don’t like the way things are going with you. You’re turning into something… someone… ugly.”
Taylor’s eyes fixed on the wall. He was ugly? He was what? Snarling petulantly,the thought “Look who’s talking,” flitting nastily through his mind, he shoved himself away from contact. “Oh, ugly… ugly HOW Ike…” The contempt in Taylor’s tone was unmistakable, but Isaac pushed on. Someone had to talk to him, someone had to find a way to get through…
Zac sat quietly, his eyes trained on the book he held. He hadn’t read much, his attention too diverted by the conversation taking place across the room. As Isaac’s list of Taylor’s transgressions went on, his eyes widened slightly. Boy, this was really something. He wondered how long Tay would take it. Thing was… he sighed softly and shifted, a little uncomfortable… it was all true. Taylor’d been impossible lately, constantly ignoring rules, lying, sneaking away, going to places he’d been told not to go, seeing all kinds of girls, even smoking out behind the building that one time, although he’d confessed to Zac that it had made him feel sick, and he wouldn’t be doing it again. They couldn’t even work with him anymore, the polite, reasonable, professional Taylor having become a thing of the past. He was constantly interrupting people as if his own words were somehow the most important, overriding business decisions, changing other peoples work, putting them down. Snapping and ridiculing, it was like walking on eggshells, just being in the same room. If his own work was somehow substandard, he no longer grinned with is characteristic “Sorry…” and did it over. No, now it was everyone else’s problem, they weren’t hearing it right, the equipment was bad, they were out to get him… Shaking his head, he glanced over the top of the book, wincing at the icy look on Taylor’s face. This didn’t look as if it was going well.
Taylor listened to the endless list of his evil, fighting to hold his tongue. If he didn’t want this to go on all day, he’d be best off just letting Ike get it out of his system. But God, he was going on and on and on and on… finally, unable to take it much more, he sighed heavily and held up a hand. “Ike, Ike… wait… did you have some kind of point?” Isaac stopped in mid work, mouth open, flabbergasted. Some kind of point?! Did he have some kind of POINT?!?! Utterly unable to believe he’d just been asked that, he snapped his mouth closed, and stood up, pacing again. “Taylor how in HELL can you ask me that?! Have you heard anything I’ve been saying? Don’t you see how you’re being?! Don’t you care at ALL?!?!” Taylor smiled unpleasantly, and nodded, turning the volume back up on the discman, and readjusting the headphones. “Yeah Ike, yeah, I hear you. I suck, I’m bad, I’m evil, I’m a damn criminal and it’s all all my fault, always has been, always will be… okay? So, if you don’t mind…” He cranked the volume, effectively cutting off anything else his brother might have to say.
Isaac stood for a minute, just watching. Taylor’s face had become wooden… he knew damn well that everything he’d been told was true. And by God he was going to admit it. Stepping in close, he reached out and pulled the headphones away from his brother’s ears, dodging the hand that came at him, eluding capture. “No, you’re going to listen to me.” “Ike…” “Shut up and listen, Taylor.” He held the earphones slightly above his brother’s head, idly swinging them a little. “You snuck off with that girl, and I got grounded. Do you think that was fair? Did I do anything wrong? I was where I was supposed to be, doing what I was supposed to do, and YOU took off. Is it fair that I’m in trouble because of what you did?” “Hey, like they said. You were responsible. You should have kept a better eye on me…” Smirking, he snatched the earphones back, and fixed them in place again. “It’s not my fault you can’t be responsible… Hey!” He broke off, shocked at the hand that suddenly gripped his face, hard, and stared up into eyes flashing with fury. “You should be glad I don’t knock you in the mouth right now. Now you listen up, and you listen good. I’m sick to death of you. Do you understand that? You make me sick, you make me want to puke. You used to be a nice guy. You used to be a cool brother. Now you’re nothing but a stuck up, selfish asshole. I can’t even stand you. I’d rather have you dead than like you are now…” He shoved his brother away roughly, and slammed into the next room, leaving Zac wide eyed, staring at Taylor. Taylor scowled at him, and Zac hastily averted his eyes. He didn’t need to get in the middle of this. He watched from under his hair as Taylor jammed a handful of CD’s into the case and slung it over his shoulder. As he stormed by, he shot a look in Zac’s direction that clearly said “Don’t.” Nodding, Zac stayed back. Tay was mad, he’d go for a walk, he’d cool off. Until then he, Zac, would stay right out of his way. Taylor wasn’t physical with him, as a rule, but you never knew with him lately.
Taylor slammed through the hotel lobby, fuming. Who did Isaac think he was? Where did he get off? His hands hit the double lobby doors, winging them open against the stops with a bang, startling the few guests who were on the steps. He scowled at them, warning them off with a look, barely resisting the urge to flip them off on his way by. To question his anger was not even a thought. He pounded down the steps, hitting the sidewalk at a run, pausing for a moment to catch his breath. Hot. It was too hot. Felt like it was sucking the air right out of his lungs. Stopping, he struggled for a moment with air that felt too thick to breath. “Shouldn’t have run, idiot…” The thought was tinged with humor. “You want to pass out here so Ike has to come down and carry you in? I guess not…” He slowed his breathing, and fought to get himself under some kind of control. He had to calm down, that was the problem. But God he was pissed off. How could Ike have said those things? He was just out of line, that was all. He’d talk to his parents later. They wouldn’t stand for anyone talking to him that way, least of all his brother. “Whatever happened to respect anyway?” his mumble was lost in the squeals that suddenly erupted across the road, and he glanced up, feeling a grin break on his face in spite of his mad. The girls. His smile grew. They were always there, always glad to see him. He shrugged off the incident with Isaac, and headed across the street, stopping as he drew abreast of the girls. He felt something warm wash over him at the welcoming smiles. THEY didn’t think there was anything wrong with him. Hell, anything he did made them giggle. He shoved his hair out of his face again, cursing the fact that he hadn’t thought to bring an elastic. Shrugging guilelessly, repeatedly tucking his hair with one hand, he smiled back at smiles, squeezed hands, returned hugs. It was so cute, they wanted to go into the park with him. Raising his eyebrows, turning on every ounce of charm, he smiled and waved them away cheerfully. “N’no, now there are way too many of you for me to handle, and I couldn’t pick just one, now could I?” He nodded as they giggled and made way for him, pausing for a moment as one of them called after him, holding out a hair tie. Grinning, he accepted it, appreciating the smiles as he pulled it into a ponytail. “Yeah…” he sighed in satisfaction. “Ike doesn’t have THAT now, does he?” Shaking his head over what jealousy could do to previously normal people, he headed into the green of the park.
Zac sat quietly, eyes trained out the window, as he listened to Ike rant and rave to himself in the bedroom. He couldn’t believe how harsh he’d been! He’d thought for a minute that Ike was just gonna haul off and belt him. Grabbing his face like that, and then telling him he wanted him dead?! Ike was MAD. Way mad. Shaking his head he watched Taylor down on the street, socializing with those girls. How could he stand them? Behind him, he heard the door slam open, and Isaac’s voice. “Where did he go, Zac?” He turned, and silently pointed out the window. Isaac glanced at the glass and barked humorless laughter. “Did he jump?” “Ike! Geez…” “Well tell me Zac, you just tell me. Is it me? Is it? Or is he…” He cut himself off as the pained look on Zac’s face penetrated his anger. “Zac what’s the matter?” Zac shook his head, keeping his eyes out the window. “I don’t want to hear it Ike, not you talking bad about him, and not him talking bad about you. I love both you guys… and I… I don’t want to get in the middle of it. No, he didn’t jump. He’s in the park…” Isaac watched him for a few minutes, thinking about what he’d said, then nodded and headed out without another word, leaving Zac to his observations. A few minutes later he watched his older brother cross into the park, distractedly waving off the handful of girls who approached him. Zac nodded in approval. Ike felt the same way he did about them. Wondering how many teeth Tay was going to be missing when Ike got done with him, and who he could get to bet on it with him. The only one with cash was his mom, but he knew her. She wouldn’t even bet on a sure thing like that. Nope, looked like he was out of luck. Wishing he could hire a fly to go watch the proceedings in the park, he wandered out of the room, in search of happier siblings.
Taylor rubbed the beginnings of a headache, and sighed. The cheer he’d felt during his rub with the girls had faded too quickly. This whole thing with Ike, that was what it was, it had really put him off. Even the lush green of the park, normally a balm to his spirits, didn’t seem to be calming him down. He was just too tense. The music, blasting through his head, lacked its usual energizing effect, serving now only to annoy. His head thumped and rang, and the sensation of pressure behind his eyes was almost unbearable. “God I can’t believe him!” He whispered the words harshly, stripping off the earphones in his agitation, tugging a little at his hair. The powder keg feeling just wouldn’t leave him. “I gotta relax…” He found himself a bench and lay down on it, looping a leg over the back, gazing up into the trees. Flashes of yellowish gray green New York sky showed through the leaves. Smog. He craved the pure blue of the Tulsa sky. There was no blue here, there never was. He could feel the dirt in the air on his skin. Funny what you got used to. He squirmed a little on the bench, something in his pocket jabbing into his leg. Flinching, irritated, he reached in and pulled out a key. Smiling a little, slightly puzzled as to how it had found its way into his pocket, he settled back again, holding it up before his eyes. His key to a rooftop apartment in the Dakota, gift of a friend, treasured possession. Antique, worn, fit to a lock removed before he’d been born. Someday, he’d been promised, he’d be able to go inside. Until that day, he had the key. He slid it into his palm and dropped his hands to his belly, absently stroking the smooth metal surface of the key. The sigh of the breeze was nice… soothing. He let his eyes close, enjoying the relative peace of the park.
Isaac wandered aimlessly, not sure which direction to take. He knew Tay had a thing for the Dakota apartments. The John Lennon memorial, with it’s pretty view of the building, was one of his ‘places’, but he hadn’t found him there. The words he’d said jabbed at him, and he felt a growing urgency to find his brother. He wanted to talk, to tell him he didn’t mean what he’d said… at least about wishing him dead. Maybe if they could go someplace away from everyone, they could just sit and talk about things the way they used to. Without the snapping and snarling. He hated to fight, it made him vaguely sick, even when it was with someone he didn’t like, and harsh words were almost unheard of between he and Tay. At least until now. Sighing, he aimed for the zoo. It was a hell of a long hike, but you never knew…
Taylor groaned as the raspy barking went on and on. He’d been pleasantly close to dozing when the racket began. “God… dog… shut up…” He sighed and sat up. Obviously he’d have to find a more peaceful area. Sitting for a moment, head in hands, he tried to pull his head together. He was sleepy, and felt a little disoriented, his head thumping queasily behind his eyes. Allergies. Good old New York City air. Maybe he just ought to go home. Take a Benadryl. Get some sleep. Shaking his head he looked up as the grating bark was joined by the wail of a child. Great. Just great. Kids, dogs… noise… God how his head ached. He stood up, slipped the key, still clutched in his palm, into his pocket, and stretched, one hand working the ponytail out of his hair in the process. An automatic movement, almost instinct. Sighing, wiping sweat from his forehead, he gathered the long hair up again, and slipped the elastic around it. Ike had accused him of being vain, with all of the playing with his hair that he did, but dang, it was his hair… he could play with it if he wanted. Truth be told, most of the time he wasn’t even aware he was doing it. Starting away from the bench, in search of more peaceful pastures, he found his eyes roving for the source of the wailing. It was a truly heartbreaking cry… where was it coming from? He took a few steps, following the sound, and came up short quickly. There in front of him, a little boy. Tiny, no more than three, and crying hysterically. Was he alone? Taylor looked around, searching for some sign of parents. Who would let a baby like that run around the park alone? He headed for him cautiously, not wanting to spook him, scanning the surrounding area. Darned if the kid wasn’t by himself. He smiled a little as he saw what was making the child cry. The dog he’d heard, barking away, front legs down low, tail in the air and wagging frantically, barking his foolish head off. Chuckling, knowing there was nothing but play in that dog, he moved in quickly, surely, and scooped up the child. “Take it easy buddy, he’s not gonna hurt you… look at his tail wag…” The little boy’s arms fastened with panicky tightness around Taylor’s neck, and Taylor felt a wet cheek press against his. Hugging him back, he stepped closer to the dog, and gave his head a friendly pat. “Look… see? He’s friendly. He wanted to play, that’s all…” The child looked, cautiously, and his wails faded to whimpers. “See? He’s a good dog…” The little boy nodded, but kept his hands tucked up against Taylor. Laughing a little, Taylor gave the dog’s rump a friendly smack and gestured at him “Go home then boy, he doesn’t wanna play… go on… go home.” The dog barked hopefully, found once and for all no takers for his game, and trotted off, tail still high. “Yeah, there’s no insulting you, is there?” Taylor laughed, and turned his attention to the child in his arms. Older than he’d first thought, maybe four or five. And heavy. “Hey, you okay now?” The child nodded, and tucked his head back onto Taylor’s shoulder, ruining Taylor’s plan to put him down. Sighing he went back to his bench and sat down, settling the little boy on his lap. “Buddy, what’re you doing out here alone? Did you get lost?” The boy nodded, and pointed off in the direction the dog had taken. “I was over there…” His eyes filled up again, and he sighed, shakily. “I can’t find my mom…” Taylor hugged him again, and set him gently on his feet, offering a hand. “Come on. Let’s go see if we can find her. I bet she’s looking all over for you.” The boy nodded and slipped his hand trustingly into Taylor’s. “What’s your name?” Taylor looked down, smiling. “My name’s Taylor, what’s your name?” “Tony…” Taylor shook his head. The kid looked so miserable.”Listen Tony, if we don’t find her I’ll tell you what we’ll do.” “What?” “Well look…” He turned the child around and pointed skyward, through the trees. “You see that really tall building? The tallest one, that you can’t even see the top of?” “The real shiny one?” Taylor laughed. It had never occurred to him that the building glittered, it was just the hotel, but he supposed it did. “Yep… that one.” “Yeah… what about it?” Taylor laughed. “Well, that’s where I live. So if we can’t find your mom nice and fast, we can go back there, and we’ll tell MY mom.” “Do you live real high up there?” Taylor nodded seriously. “All the way to the top.” Tony laughed delightedly for a moment, then glanced at Taylor with naked suspicion. “I don’t know, I’m not supposed to go with strangers.” Sighing, Taylor nodded. “I know, and that’s a good thing. So, if we can’t find her, we’ll go over to the phone at the front gate and CALL her. Okay?” The boy nodded and Taylor gestured across the park. “Okay buddy, show me where you were…”
“Thanks…” Tony accepted the paper cup of coke, and plopped down on the grass. Taylor settled next to him, and leaned back on his elbows, gazing up into the sky again. There was no way he was going to find this kid’s mother in a park this size. If Tony’d had some idea where he’d been… but it all looked the same to him. He was still balking at the idea of going home with Taylor, and Taylor couldn’t say much about it. To a child of the nineties, everyone was suspect, and that was a good thing. Too many weirdos out there. Still, the kid wanted his mom, and a cup of coke would only appease him for so long. He had to do something. To just leave the boy didn’t even cross his mind. “Who’s that?” Tony’s voice broke Taylor’s revery, and he looked around, searching. “Huh? Who… where?” Taylor’s puzzled face made Tony giggle. “No, no, not over there. Down there. That…” He pointed and Taylor saw his wallet had fallen out onto the grass… open. “Oh… that’s my brother Zac. Do you have brothers or sisters?” Tony smiled and nodded. “Yep. I have two brothers. How many do you have?” Taylor laughed. “Six. Three brothers and three sisters.” “Wow six! That’s a lot!” “Yeah it is…” “They’re lucky, they must like you.” Taylor’s eyebrows went up. “Why do you say that?” “Well ‘cuz you’re nice. My big brother’s always nice to me…” Taylor smiled a little, and nodded. “Yeah, my big brothers always nice to…” He trailed off for a second, eyes going distant, before picking up the sentence again “…to me too, my big brother’s pretty nice to me too…” He groaned a little and dropped back onto the grass. If he’d only tasted guilt before, it flooded him now. “What’s the matter, Taylor?” He gazed up at the little boy. “Oh, nothing, I had a really silly fight with my brother before I left. You know how that is?” Tony shook his head. “I don’t ever fight. It’s not nice.” “Nope, you’re right, it’s not.” “Well, you must be a good brother anyway.” Taylor smiled faintly. “Sometimes maybe… my big brother’s pretty cool though, and my little brother too. Hey I have a brother who’s your age I bet, how old are you?” Tony pulled himself to his full height, and his face took on a satisfied expression. “I’m five. And I am NOT small.” Taylor chuckled softly, not about to be the one to tell the kid he looked three. “Yeah, my brother Mackie’s five. He likes Sega.” He pointed out the picture of Mackie as he spoke. “You ever play Sega?” The little boy shook his head… “Is that like Nintendo?” “Yep kinda…” “Yep we got that… Hey!!” Tony jumped to his feet, pointing and yelling excitedly. “My mom! Over there that’s my mom!” Taylor jumped up as well, spotted the obviously frantic woman just rounding the corner away from them, and hoisted the child onto his shoulders. “Hang on buddy, watch out for trees…” He heard the giggle from above and laughed. “Now you yell real loud so I don’t have to chase her too far…” He locked a hand around the boy’s ankle and took off at a jog, catching up quickly. He heard Tony’s gleeful shout, saw the woman turn, and froze… arrested by the unadulterated hatred and fear he saw on her face. “What are you doing with my son! Put him down! I’ll call the police!” His mother’s hysterical tone frightened Tony, and he started to cry, as Taylor lifted him down and handed him to the woman, who snatched him away roughly. He stepped back, not wanting to leave yet, wanting somehow to make her understand that he hadn’t harmed him. He watched as Tony buried his face in the woman’s shirt, sobbing heartbreakingly. He almost understood… when you were that scared, sometimes seeing your mom was all it took to unhinge you, and the kid was only five for God sake. Finally, throwing caution to the wind, he stepped forward, very gently touching the woman’s arm. “Ma’am…” His voice was soft. “I… just want you to know I didn’t hurt him. He was lost…” She looked up at him now, some of her initial suspicion fading as it became clear that this was just a boy, and her son hadn’t been harmed. She smiled hesitantly, and chucked Tony under the chin. “Tone, who’s your friend here?” Tony looked up and reached for Taylor’s hand. “Tay… Taylor…” Taylor smiled a little and ruffled the boy’s hair. “Tony why you crying bud? That’s your mom right? ” “Right” “Well then shouldn’t you be doing the happy thing right about now??” The little boy laughed, and nodded, wiping his eyes. “Mom, Taylor bought me a coke, and he lives in that sparkly place way up at the top! And he has SIX brothers and sisters. SIX!” “Six, my Goodness…” “He told me we would find you…” He hugged her again tightly. She smiled at him fondly, her heart finally slowing, her adrenaline backing off. Glancing up at Taylor, she reached into her pocket, pulling out a thin billfold. “Here, thank you for bringing him back, I was losing my mind, I turned around and he was just gone… let me…” Taylor backed away, waving off the money. “No, no no, that’s fine. I’m just glad we found you.” “Well at least let me reimburse you for the soda…” He shook his head firmly as she persisted, and turned to Tony. “B’bye buddy, be careful and keep an eye on her from now on. These parents wander off, you have to watch them every second…” Tony laughed, and waved as Taylor took his leave of them. He knew how she felt, he’d lost Avie once, in a zoo. He’d thought he’d go insane before he finally found her. The fear in her eyes when she’d seen him though, he couldn’t shake the image of it. “You’d have thought I was Manson the way she looked at me…” Sighing, chalking it up once again to life in the nineties, he switched on the discman again. This time the sound wasn’t quite so grating, and he wandered, watching life go by in time to the beat of the music.
“And a little child shall lead them…” The phrase circled over and over in his head, as the bark of the tree pressed into his back. The little boy’s words had been full of innocent wisdom. “God I’ve been such an asshole… He’s standing there telling me how nice I am, and how much my brothers and sisters must like me… and they probably want to kill me.” He sighed, the turmoil in his head worse than ever. Why had he been like that? What exactly had he been thinking? And why was Ike being like he was? He idly twisted grass between his fingers, wondering what was wrong with them all. He was tired, his head ached, and he needed to catch his breath before starting home. This little nook, well off the beaten path, quiet but for the sigh of the wind… that peaceful oasis he’d been seeking, finally. His eyes caught fleeting glimpses of the Dakota, through the trees, as the wind blew the leaves. Tiny little flashes, barely there, drawing his mind… so old, it was so old. Had stood so long. Home to people hundreds of years in their graves, and still it stood. How many scenes it had stood sentry over. How many lives lived behind it’s walls…..his hand slid into his pocket, folding around the old key again, his eyes closed and he felt himself drifting… dozing. A strange, dreamy disorientation slipped over him, and he sank back…
Isaac rounded the corner, eyes fastened on the dirt road in front of him. There seemed to be no time here… The hum of the traffic muted to ears used to its constant roar, the singing of the birds clearly audible. The trees were thick, shutting out the soaring buildings, and he felt a warm comfort at the thought that this place was here, in the middle of the city, unchanged. There was no sign of Taylor, however, and as much as he hated to do it, he was going to have to give up. He was too tired to keep looking, the park too huge. As it was, his mother was probably beginning to be pretty annoyed with him. She hated it when they left without saying anything, and he knew he’d been gone a long time. Yeah, it was time to get back. For all he knew, Tay had already beat him home. His steps took him toward the edge of the park, and he glanced up catching a flash of the Dakota, through the trees. Tay’s place. God how he loved it. His thoughts roamed… he’d been so hard on Taylor. It was probably unfair of him, Taylor after all was only 15, and everyone had attitude sometimes… sighing, he kept walking, suddenly distracted by a flash of bright gold. Glancing sharply over, he felt his heart leap. Taylor! Sound asleep against a tree. Didn’t that just figure, leave it to his brother to fall asleep in the dirt, in the middle of Central Park. Chuckling, he took a step toward him, stopping suddenly as the air around his brother seemed to shimmer. He saw Taylor’s eyes flicker open for a moment, a flash of dazzling blue in the sudden silver glow that surrounded him, and then… before his eyes, his brother’s form became misty… insubstantial. To Isaac, amazed, it seemed he could see right through him to the tree. He saw those much loved blue eyes roll upward, saw the silver shimmer turn milky, and before his eyes… his brother was gone.