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My brother killed Abraham Lincoln. That is my weight, my shame. While he remained at large, I was held captive in my home. I should have told the soldiers who came with guns drawn and bayonets at the ready this true thing: I might have stopped him, for I harbored him and kept his secrets. I was a pie safe locked tight and guilty as he.
When John Wilkes Booth was small and in my stormy keep, I fused us, so alike in face and form, into one muddle of a being. He was beautiful always. I was hat-rack thin with hair like a Hottentot's and a longing to be him as deep and wide as any river I ever did see. "You'll teach him the verses, Asia, and make him the greatest Booth of them all," my father said. "Poor Hamlet weeps and sighs in your head, that I know," he added, forbidding me to ever set foot on a stage.
The memory of the world around us--our celebrated family, the words of Shakespeare as necessary as morning porridge, our reckless, enchanted childhood deep in the woods--was a symphony of endless variation.
I watched as my brother grew to manhood; a famous actor with half the country in a lather about him and an easy passage through the world that lay beyond our sorry farm overgrown with tick weed and blighted corn. When war came, though our family remained dead loyal to Mr. Lincoln's Union, my brother did not. He was a Rebel to his bones and no ordinary soldier. John Wilkes Booth was an enemy agent on an enemy mission. And I who lived in him, lived for him could not, would not turn away.
On April 15, 1865, the day the President died, rain poured incessantly as though ordered by a raging god to drown we sinners in our sleep.
I begin my tale with thatraw April dawn. I begin with rain.