The Shine Journal

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Brotherly Affection


Krista D. Ball


Even though we had the dubious misfortune to be unwanted by our mother, Children Services found great homes for us.  My younger siblings – three girls and two boys – and I remained close in spite of our new separate homes as adulthood overtook each of us.   

A stranger to both birth control and staying with the same man, our mother jabbered away our childhoods with stories of our fathers.  Out of us six kids, our mother proclaimed my father as her favourite former lover.   She talked longingly about him, even in her rare sober moments.  The cruelty of fate cursed my youngest sister, Anne, with the hated father, Dawson Greyfeather.  Most of us knew a little about our fathers – hair colour, height, criminal records.  But not Anne.  She knew nothing beyond his name.  And even whispering his name was forbidden.  Mom used his name as if describing the special dungeons of hell reserved for child molesters and people who name their children after fruit.   

When Anne finally turned eighteen, I admit I felt nothing but relief.  I had liberated our mother from her difficult job of parenting when I was twelve.  My sense of commitment kept me in that  role long after the social workers found me my own home.  Our other siblings had adjusted well to their new lives and gave me little pause but Anne always worried me.  Brought into the world by an unfit mother then raised by Christian fundamentalists, she turned into an odd mixture of heathenism and guilt-ridden Puritanism.   I never knew from one day to the next if she would choose a convent or a strip club as her choice of employer.

So when Anne called me a week after her birthday in a blubbering mess, I didn’t waste energy hiding my annoyance. Our inebriated mother called me enough for a lifetime during my childhood.  I certainly wasn’t putting up with it from my sister.  I was in the midst of studying for my organic chemistry final and had no patience for interruptions. I preached my standard sermon; themed being born white trash doesn’t give permission to drunk call in the middle of the night.   

Then, what she said suddenly hit me.  “Sorry – you did what?” 

“I almost slept with my brother,” she said, choking and slurring through her tears and booze.  

Brother?  “You almost slept with Andrew? Richard? Are you high?”  I had seen many people do dumb things while drunk but this level of stupidity required drug use.  I ran a couple of lectures through my mind wondering  what would work best in this situation. 

“No, my other brother.” 

Definitely high.   “We only have two brothers, Anne.  I taught you better then to be messing around with dope.” 

“I’m not high.  It was Dawson Greyfeather’s son.” 

Her friends, helpful as all friends should be, had set her up with a wonderful man from out of town.  “A perfect match,” they said. Their outing went well and after a few too many shooters, they stumbled back to her apartment.  Some graphic details followed about fumbling to remove clothes – details I wasn’t interested in hearing about from my baby sister, but I let it slide.  Thankfully, she remembered the need for protection and sent him digging in his jacket in search for condoms.   

During the great condom search, she had asked him for his last name.  I delayed yet another older sister lecture of at least finding out a man’s last name before vodka shooters and nudity. I’d save that one for when sobriety reigned.   

“His name was John.  John Greyfeather.” 

“It’s just a coincidence,” I said.  I looked at the clock and sighed.  It was two in the morning and my future life as a doctor hinged on me nailing an exam only hours away.  Yet, here I sat – again – caught on the insane merry-go-round of my life that I could never seem to get off.  I reminded myself to grin and bear it.  Fighting it would only prolong the misery.

“It’s worse." 

 Of course it’s worse, I thought.  Still, I reassured her that all was not bad as it seemed even though a little voice told me it really was. And then some. 

 “He asked my name,” Anne whispered, still slurring.   Apparently at this junction, the poor man turned pale, mumbled obscenities, and backed up until he hit the wall opposite her.  

“His father is Dawson Greyfeather. He knew all about me.” 

My sister sobbed for another twenty minutes before the overpriced vodka finally did her in, and she passed out midway through condemning our mother to hell.  I proved worse than useless at comforting her. All I could think about is that I didn’t know if I had any brothers out there myself.  I moved the photo of my boyfriend of three years – usually on my nightstand – to underneath my bed.  All men suddenly became off limits. 

Anne spent six months in therapy before she dated again.  These days, she requires a birth certificate and driver’s license before any condom adventures.  At least she learned something.  For me, I spend two years to find my father.  I happily discovered he also had children; all girls.

Bio:When I am writing short stories or working on my unpublished fantasy novel, I am usually surrounded by my seven rescue cats. I pay the bills by working at a homeless drop in
centre running their hot supper program.

Motivation:I want to make people laugh and think at the same time.

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