In this month’s New Voices Revisited, we return to Ron A. Austin’s “Shine,” first published on our site in March of 2015. “Shine” is a tale about a rebellious teen and her younger brother. It is a gritty, funny, and heartfelt story, touching on the ways in which familial love endures conflict, pain, and anger.
I wanted to believe Yell was slicing notched machetes through Amazonian flora as she tracked rare panthers, tarantulas scattering under her feet. I wanted to believe she was Kumite fighting in Thailand—a musty, concrete theatre bristling with blood-lusting spectators, adrenaline setting claws in her spine, she and the champ trading slashes across the chest like masochists posing as sadists. I wanted to believe all that, but I knew she was most likely chopping it up with one of her dickhead ex-boyfriends, smoking dirt weed and guzzling cough syrup until the ghosts of dead prophets dropped from the ceiling and empty Pringles cans became megaphones heralding End Times.
Yell bit Mom on the shoulder so Mom finally kicked her punk-ass out. Mom made me put on rubber gloves and inspect the wound for signs of infection with a miniature flashlight and a magnifying glass.
The wound was a perfect oval, as if Yell had attacked with a precision cutting instrument and not her teeth. There was discoloration—red, green, and purple, like weather-beaten aluminum—but there was no pus, no gangrene. Funky tufts of fur didn’t sprout from Mom’s face, nor did she become a zombie. One day later, Yell’s stuff was jammed in garbage bags and boxes, and two days after that Mom organized a yard sale. I lugged grimy folding tables out of the basement, and Mom made placards, even busted out that fine and sophisticated calligraphy she learned at the Y.
She earned ten bucks off an old lady who haggled over Yell’s antique hand mirror for a solid hour. Mom closed up shop when a crusty white dude with only 2.5 teeth in his head asked: Got any gently used stockings? I’d take garters, too. Three days after that, Yell’s stuff was back in her room, hair-care products categorized by severity of kink, Freak ‘Em dresses hung with respect.
Two more days after that, Mom sighed and told me, “Avery, you need to go find your sister.”