bubbles, scurvy, parasol, poop, futon
I think I'm contracting scurvy from sitting on my step brother's futon. It's my own fault for deciding to visit him. I mean, I remember what his room looked like when he still lived with us (us being me, my mom and his dad), but for some reason I thought moving out might mature him enough to clean up after himself, at least a little. But here I sit, on this futon, not entirely sure if he uses it for sitting or for pooping.
"Do you want any fried chicken?" He asks me, tossing me a bucket from who knows how many days ago that probably has never seen the inside of a refrigerator.
"Um, no thanks," I say, setting it carefully aside. "Do you want to, I don't know, maybe go for a walk?" I ask, hoping beyond all hope I can convince him to leave this terrifying place.
"You really want to walk around here? There's literally, like, five drug dealers in this building alone."
"You're making that up."
"I wish I was," he says in a tone far too serious for me to take seriously.
I pick up what may or may not be a fishbowl. I put it back down when I see a line of tiny ants making its way across the surface.
"There's a park I saw on the way over. Want to go there? You know, get some fresh air, catch up on stuff?"
For a moment I'm sure he's going to say no, but then he gets up and walks to the door, grabbing his keys out of a shoe nearby. "Sure, let's go."
** ** **
My nose welcomes the clean smell of fresh cut grass as we weave along the paved walking trails. I see a small girl off in the distance blowing bubbles while holding a small purple parasol. She looks perfectly primped for a day in the park, a far cry from the ever-expanding trash heap at my brother's place, and I'm grateful for the contrast.
"So is mom going to grill you when you get back?" he asks me.
"What do you mean?"
"You know, is she going to be all, 'Blah blah blah, Steven's not living up to his potential, he should be more self-motivated, have some ginseng and arugula tea, blah.'"
I shrug. "She doesn't know I'm here."
I hear him mumble "bitch" under his breath and I try to ignore it.
"Are you ever going to visit?" I ask.
"Not likely," he says. "That's what your freshly minted driver's license is for."
"Yeah, but what if I don't want to come visit you all the time? What if I don't want to risk contracting hepatitis by walking around barefoot at your place?"
"I dunno. Wear boots?"
I shove him.
"I wish you hadn't moved out. Now that you're not there to be disappointed in, mom's turned her attention to me."
"Yeah, little miss perfect, I'm sure she's got plenty to complain about, what with all your straight A's and lack of pre-marital sex."
"Hey," I protest, wagging a finger in front of his face. "I'm very rebellious. Yesterday I stole a roll of tape from the theater department."
He raises his hands and wiggles his fingers. "Oooh, what daring deeds will you attempt next? Will you actually...join the thespian society?"
"Yeah. That would require getting over my fear of large crowds and bright lights."
"Good. Those theater people give me the willies anyway."
The trails end and we are back at the front of the park. I realize mom's going to worry about me the longer I'm gone, especially since I didn't tell her I planned on going anywhere after school.
We fall silent as we make our way slowly back to the car. Steven's not too big on the great outdoors.
We climb into the car, and I feel a weird, unidentifiable ball of emotion form in the pit of my stomach. I'm not sure what I'd hoped to gain from this visit, but whatever it was, I don't think I got it. For some reason, Steven's moving out has affected me more than I thought it would. It's like...an end of an era. Except that he had a choice, and I didn't. I'm stuck at home, forced to rearrange my life to accommodate the hole that he left, picking up pieces of monotony and ritual and trying to make them fit in a pattern that no longer makes sense.
I suppose I hoped this visit would provide me with some sense of how to do that, how to keep the patterns of my life in order without having to incorporate this change. But instead, I feel...I don't know. Unfulfilled. I wanted something revelatory. Instead, I got more of the same, just in a different setting.
** ** **
"Well, don't be a stranger," Steven says as he leans on the door frame. "You've got the keys to mom's car now, so be sure to abuse your power."
I nod. "Yeah, for sure."
He rumples my hair and gives me a half-grin. "See you soon, little sis," he says, and closes the door.
"Yeah," I say to myself as I make my way back to my mom's fifteen-year-old minivan. "Soon."
X-posted to Facebook, because I'm an LJ-betrayin' bitch like that.