Butter Both Sides

by Treehouse Editors

a brief encounter by Casey Jordan Mills

The divorce split the household into a nasty atmosphere. My parents rummaged through DVDs, silverware, and picture frames; my brother and I watched as they tugged on the Panini press, staking claims, spitting slurs about money and betrayal. Each party signed and initialed eight or nine dotted lines after pretending to read the stack of legal papers before Dad and I drove off with cardboard boxes and a key to a new duplex. Mom didn’t stay for the wave-off, but my brother lingered in the driveway. My brother had a mind for math—he argued it would make him successful, a grown-up with a salary. He tweaked his jokes to blame everything on Dad (and me) boasting how numbers would make him a better man. We went five years without speaking. I tried multiple times to contact him, but he didn’t want anything to do with the other half of the family. I knew he would only apply to his dream school; I knew him well enough to know he had zero friends. I clicked through the pages on Craigslist until I found him, his post searching for a roommate in the area. His ad: Looking for a quiet roommate. 2 bedroom. 1 bathroom. 1.8 miles from campus. Rent and bills split evenly down the middle. I arranged a meeting, using a different name to deter suspicion. My brother answered the door of his cramped loft only after I knocked four times. We stood in silence, examining changes in our appearances and demeanors. He finally motioned for me to come in, still only a few words traded between us. He offered me a glass of water and handed me half of what he called his signature sandwich creation, made with our Panini press already plugged into the counter, his parting gift from Mom.