The day that my mother's coffin had been lowered into the ground was the saddest days of my life. Even in death the more they lowered her, my heart sank with her and it seemed like it would never end. How deep was the hole? It took me a while to register what was happening, I didn't realize it at the time but I didn't see my father anywhere, only my Aunts and Uncles and few close family friends. There should've been more people here, my older brother Gerald and my other older brother but younger than Gerald, Kyle! Where did they go? Was I the only person that loved my mother? I was eight when it all happened and it was also one of the most confusing times I'd experienced. I had to stay with my Aunt Sylvia and she became a motherly figure to me but never the same as my mother's unconditional love. The same love that she bathed me in and she'd been murdered for loving unconditionally. If I had known who it was I wouldn't hesitate to put a gun to their head and pull the trigger so quickly I won't have second thoughts. It wouldn't bring me satisfaction, nor would it bring my mother back but maybe, just maybe it will sew together the hole in my heart that's agape and exposed ripped open by some stranger. I remember my Aunt Sylvia timid and assessing me through long fake eyelashes. She said to me "Bernice, I - your father is going to be a way for a while and he said that he needs you to stay with me, until he gets better"
I remember how she tried her best to contain her sadness and how hard it had been for her too. She and mom used to be the best of friends in high school and then they just stopped talking one day. Sylvia told me that she regrets the day she lost my mother as not only a sister but a friend. I couldn't help but cry when I heard her say that. My heart constricted so painfully and uncomfortably that it felt like breathing was next to impossible.
I stare out of Aunt Sylvia's front window. The past seven years this house has become so familiar and humble I couldn't possibly imagine my life without Sylvia anymore, we've had time to find out about each other and it helped a lot, especially with what we shared in common and we coped through it together.
Sylvia's house is compromised of two stories and mostly wooden furnishing and gold trim drapes and a beautiful chandelier that hangs fashionably in the hallway beside the staircase. My heart melts when I see it. Wallpaper of flowers on a beige background and beautiful cream colour carpets that match anything. The kitchen table swallows most of the kitchen itself but then moves subtly in a gap between the living room and the kitchen island.
Patiently I wait for Kyle's arrival, he promised he'd be here by one o'clock this evening but it's nearly half past and my insides squirm with a feeling of discomfort. I almost want to puke with both excitement and nervousness. I haven't seen him since April last year when he left for Vancouver and my brother Gerald on that note. Except Gerald moved to Alaska, for I didn't know how long they'd be or why they left but then again I could guess a few reasons why. They both promised that they'd come and stay for a few weeks on holiday on our small desolate farm, by god, I sound so desperate and clingy. I sigh and tidy my room throwing out pictures of ruined artwork that I have collected beneath the bed and put my farm boots downstairs on the back porch just if I felt the need to go for a walk like most times. The sound of gravel pitches into the distance. Nervously and most clumsily I knock over my pictures scattering them over the bedroom floor as I dash to the nearest window. Outside a truck in the distance trails a dust cloud and moves with such speed that I'm afraid whoever it is will go sliding into the ditch or lose control and go swerving into one of the trees that line the driveway.
Once the truck pulls up just behind my Aunt's car they step out of the truck. It's him. It's Kyle!
Most unladylike I barrel downstairs twisting my ankle painfully in the process but escape with a limp and go out to greet Kyle. He smiles when he sees me but I don't when I see him, he goes around to open the passenger door and it hits like a ton of bricks. He's bought a girl home. Before me standing is a beautiful tall brunette looking, smiling somewhat nervously at me. Her green eyes show no trace of friendliness and her smile doesn't quite touch her eyes.
He picks me up and spins me around like I'm a kid pinning me like a rag doll to him. I squeal once and he steady's me on my feet.
"Bernie, I've missed you sweetheart" He says pleasantly. "Told you I would be here"
I laugh "At one o'clock and it's almost two o'clock now!" I grumble and glare at him pursing my lips for effect.
He laughs at me most genuinely and hugs me once more but leaves my feet planted on the ground "Still my same old Bernie, you've grown maybe a good inch or two since I last saw you"
"Have I? I don't feel and inch or two taller?" I say.
I hear the sound of her clearing her throat standing insecurely beside herself; Kyle goes over to her and takes her hand. Argh!. He leads her over to me and smiles.
"Bernie I want you to meet my girlfriend Hannah" He says.
Hannah and I shake hands. "Nice to meet you" She says and stands beside Kyle again nervously awaiting his next move like she's his shadow. We stand awkwardly gazing at each other for a second but it feels like an eternity before Kyle plucks the courage to finally say something. "Where's Aunt Sylvia?"
"She's inside do you want to come in?" I ask and lead them in.
Sylvia is inside now sitting on the kitchen island sipping a coffee and reading a book on merchants. I know that she'd seen our brief introductions she's just waiting for the right moment to act like she didn't; she herself isn't very fond of the boys bringing home any girl that she hasn't already met herself.
In a way I'm glad that Aunt Sylvia didn't have the stress of bringing up both the boys. It would've been a handful and a lot to deal with, me alone was a lot to take in and it wasn't a pleasant surprise to me either. She never had children and no husband at age forty two she was single and loved every inch of singleness. I admired her too the depths but it was almost like a religion to not get married and have children, I'd learnt in Biology the other day that our main purpose in life was to get knocked up and pass on our successful gene to keep the line going, maybe not in those exact words but it had a similar meaning. There was Martin, Aunt Sylvia's close friend that came from time to time and saw Sylvia on weekends in the markets but besides that I hardly see her associate with anyone aside from me.
Aunt Sylvia looks from me to Kyle to Hannah and her mouth stretches into a large grin.
"My, my Kyle you handsome thing you!" She cries "How have you been, darling?" She glances at Hannah who looks out of place and uncomfortable. "And who's this?" Aunt Sylvia pretends to act surprised but she knows who it is, I can see, her smile isn't genuine and she isn't pleased either but it's enough to fool Kyle and Hannah.
"This is My girlfriend Hannah" He introduces her and she stretches out to shake Sylvia's hand but she ignores it and hugs her tightly. "Such a pleasant surprise to see you, I was so worried that Kyle was gay"
"Syl!" He exclaims.
"Just being honest dear"
"Well make yourself at home your brother shouldn't be too far away" Sylvia says nodding to the couch and hastily attending to the dinner filling the kitchen with the smell of burnt chicken.
I sit on the kitchen island looking at the two of them snuggle on the couch.
"What times Gerald get here?" Kyle asks, none too concerned.
"You know you're brother better than I do, you should know" Says Sylvia
Kyle looks at me and smiles.
"Come here, baby" He says and waves me over.
I look at him and rush over to sit next to him. I look enviously as he drapes one arm over Hannah and one over me. I can't quite believe he still bought her. Kyle is my brother I don't like this girl any better than the idea of her being here in my home. I lean in whisper in his ear.
"You know a little heads up would've been much appreciated"
Kyle looks at me and tries to keep from smiling.
"Sorry, it wasn't exactly planned" He whispers back.
I realize that I've missed Kyle more than I'd thought. Kyle's hair is a golden brown and shortly cropped. His brown eyes match mine and Gerald's. Kyle is a lot taller than me and is built on mainly muscle mass if I had known him. We don't share much, aside from our eye colour of course but aside from that we're practically opposite. I have long brown hair and, no sugar coating it, chubbier than anyone else I know. My face is a lot rounder and less prominent. I hate the way I look; I would count myself as borderline fat but not quite.
We sit and watch a long marathon of soap opera's while Aunt Sylvia and her expert hands slice bread for sandwiches' and places them onto the plates she's laid out.
"Where are your bags?" I ask Kyle
He looks from me to Hannah, obviously ready to admit something.
"Hannah and I thought that it'd be best if we stayed at a hotel, you know because it will be a little crowded with everyone" He says
Aunt Sylvia shoots daggers at him from the kitchen.
"Nonsense! There's plenty of room and we hardly ever get to see you boys anymore!" She practically shrieks.
But I guess in a way Kyle's logic is right. There wouldn't be enough room for all six of us. Despite the fact that Aunt Sylva's house is gigantic there are only three rooms' two of which Sylvia and I possess. I can't help but feel awful.
"You and Hannah can have my room, I'll"-
But it's no use trying to protest, I already know what He's going to say.
"No Bernie we can't and don't worry we'll be back to visit you everyday if you like" He chides
I'll admit I'm a little disappointed but not as disappointed as I'd expected at this news. After all Kyle and Hannah need a room to themselves, but it's more than I could hope for, at least he's here and not halfway across the country.
We have lunch, tasteless sandwiches and hard baked biscuits that barely give in if you saliva it down. It seems Aunt Sylvia's gone all out to make our guest feel welcome; it's almost comical if I hadn't been watching so intently.
By mid-afternoon the warm air thickens to unbearable and I can't help but feel headaches coming on. I decided to take a walk to Philips house. He's probably back from town and I need a bit of time with him, I hadn't seen him of course since the semesters break started two weeks ago.
His house is only around the corner from ours, I could see it from our backyard just below the horizon. It protrudes just because of its brilliant red colour amongst the fields green grass and wheat crops.
Philip and I've known each other since before my mothers . . . death.
No doubt he's playing his play station or quad bike riding around his paddock with his older brothers. Our friendship dates back to elementary school when most kids were out enjoying the sun and the playground, while we sat and isolated ourselves from the other kids doing what we did best, talk.