A Feather...Time to Freak Out
Ten years ago, my dad disappeared. Ten minutes ago, I wanted to make my twin brother disappear. You would’ve thought the stampede from the Lion King lived in my house had you heard the thundering steps this idiot took running up the stairs and slamming into my door at full speed.
“Bennie, you are not gonna believe this-”
“Before you say whatever it is that caused you to go turbo drive, can you at least take off your boots before you step on my carpet?” I huffed, cutting him off.
He looked down at his boots which were caked in about three layers of mud then sheepishly smiled and pulled them off. After setting them in the hall, he barged right back in and started pacing.
“Remember how when we were little, Dad had all of those owls? And he used to take us outside everyday to help feed them and taught us how to train them? Like that time Mom nearly had a heart attack because she came outside to both of us with owls on our heads and Dad was covered in bird poop? So yeah, fun times but-”
“Jacob, why’re you talking about Dad?” I cut in as my frown deepened.
You know those little unspoken rules? Not talking about Dad was one of them.
“Uh yeah, yeah, but you are not gonna believe this-”
“Why are we talking about Dad?”
He paused letting out an exasperated sigh. I raised an eyebrow at him in the reflection of my computer screen.
“You’re missing the point,” he huffed, reaching into his coat pocket, “I was out in the woods and-”
“The woods?! You know we’re not allowed in the woods,” I snapped, turning from my computer to look at him, “What were you doing in the woods?”
“Well if you’d shut up, I could tell you,” he stated bluntly.
I held up my hands in surrender turning completely to face him now. He took a deep breath and smiled.
“I heard this noise. It sounded kind of like an owl so I followed it into the woods. I only got about a hundred yards in when I found this hanging from a branch,” he explained holding the thing from his pocket up.
My eyebrows scrunched together as I looked at the object he was holding up rather proudly.
He nodded excitedly. I nodded slowly pursuing my lips.
“And this is important, why?”
He let out an over exaggerated sigh, his arms flopping to his sides as he rolled his eyes.
“It’s an owl feather,” he said as if that’d clear everything up.
I nodded again.
I turned back to my computer only to have my desk chair forcibly turned back around. He gave me a look like ‘stay.’ then started pacing again. I rolled my eyes at his behavior. Jacob was odd most of the time, but this was getting annoying.
“You don’t get it. Owls aren’t native to our area. In fact only about four species actually live in Georgia and this feather is twice the size of a normal owl feather,” he ranted, continuing to pace.
“So then how do you know it’s an owl’s?” I questioned.
“Do you remember what Dad used to tell us when we were little?” he asked instead of answering, his pacing stopping abruptly.
“Why are we still talking about Dad?”
Two rules in one day. Talking about Dad and going into the woods. Bravo, Jakey boy. You’re halfway to breaking number 3: Don’t piss off your sister.
“He used to always tell us that if we were ever unsure if it wasn’t him, we should ask for the code. Do you remember the code?” he continued as if I hadn’t said anything, “Come on, Bennie…”
I thought back, more so to get the twit out of my room than to actually search for the answer he was looking for. However, it had been drilled into our heads since we could talk.
“Always trust-” I started.
“Sigma,” we finished together.
He nodded excitedly and held up the feather. Then it clicked where he’d been going with this.
“You think Dad is sending you signals via a giant owl?” I deduced unable to keep the look of annoyance that formed on my face.
“Yes! Exactly! I knew you’d get it- why are you looking at me like that?” His face fell as I rolled my eyes and turned back to my computer. “Bennie?”
“Dad’s not sending you signals, Jacob. You found a big feather, big deal. That isn’t a sign of anything because Dad’s gone. He’s probably enjoying life with a hot white chick without a spaz for a son, drinking away any memories of the family he left behind,” I stated simply.
He went silent behind me. In the reflection, I could see that he was close to tears.
“Th-that’s a lie and you kn, know it.” His stutter came back, proof my statement had a bigger effect than I’d plan for it to.
“No, it’s not,” I huffed, forcing myself not to look at his face in the reflection.
He took a shaky breath clearly trying to compose himself.
“Dad didn’t leave us,” he finally said firmly.
“Yes he did. It’s not like it’s a new phenomenon. Black men ditch their families all the time. We’re just another statistic.”
I nearly jumped when my chair was turned so forcefully it rocked and a loud creak sounded. Jacob’s face was inches from mine, a glare etched on his lips and tears in his eyes.
“Look me in the eye and say you don’t believe that.” His words came out slow, measured. It was taking everything in him to stay calm. “Look me in the eye and say it!”
I squared off with him returning his glare with one of my own.
“Dad. is. never. coming back. He. left. Ten years ago. Grow up.” I spat my eyes boring straight into his.
A noise I’d never heard before left his mouth. It sounded like a mix between a snarl and a sob. He slammed his hand on my desk but I didn’t flinch holding my ground. Realizing finally that I wasn’t going to change my mind or position, he turned and stormed out of my room slamming the door on his way out.
I let out a sigh once he was gone. Turning back to my computer, I ignored the solitary tear that decided to agree with him. It hurt yeah, of course it did. I didn’t like fighting with Jacob, especially not about Dad. It’s his fault; he shouldn’t have brought Dad up. As long as I tell myself that, I can open a tab, log in to Netflix, and drown out the world with a clear conscience.