TRACKSIDED

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FAMILY PORTAIT

“Jane, look who’s here.”

I can’t believe it, Abby is sitting in the living room.

“Aren’t you going to give me a hug?”

Abby smiles; I know she isn’t angry for running away. I advance; she gets up and gives me a huge hug rocking me from side to side.

My sister is such a good-natured person; perhaps she was adopted, I think sometimes. Rebecca and I have twisted personalities; Abby is normal.

“What brings you here?”

Abby hasn’t got time to answer as Aina announces that lunch is ready.

We all move to the dining room, where the curtains are pulled back, and the sun is drenching the immaculately white room with its rays of light. Here, I have a better vision of Abby; she seems to have put on weight, the cheekbones once carved with worry by my drama appear plummed up, her natural blonde hair shimmers, Abby shines.

We’re crossovers of our parents. She blonde like dad and has green eyes like my mother; I’m a redhead like my mom with blue eyes like my father.

Personality-wise, Abby takes after herself, whereas I suspect one of my parents to have handed down their Pandora’s box to me.

“Aidan isn’t with you?” I ask, realizing my brother-in-law’s absence.

“No, he has too much work, and I wanted to announce this in person.

Please, God, don’t tell me they’re divorcing.

If they did, I wouldn’t forgive myself; my stay with them tore them apart.

“I’m pregnant.”

Rebecca drops her fork, and dad blinks three times.

“Abby, that’s terrific news,” Rebecca yells.

I’m so surprised; Rebecca isn’t the kind of person to have intense reactions. No uri [our] Rebbecca usually remains as a garden gnome throw out all the seasons harboring the nameless stony expression.

Does it mean she’s happy about Abby’s announcement?

Rebecca was against Abby’s marriage, though; I still remember the heated argument as 20-year-old Abby announced just like today she was getting married. Rebecca said it was stupid that marrying young was old fashioned, and Abby would regret wasting her youth.

Abby, who studied in England, had fallen for Aidan Crawford, a descendant of some British lord or duke. After two years of courtship, he asked her hand, yes, courtship; he’s English, let’s keep the tale chic.

Rebecca saw red, but what I saw was an escape route, Abby had already fled when she decided to study in England, and this marriage was just another step away from the Austen soap opera.

My mother sought assistance from my father, but he, as usual, just wanted his little girl to be happy consented to the marriage. Ten years later, their so-called doomed marriage is still going secure with its ups and downs and roundabouts.

Aidan is a good man as far as sound men go; no, he’s a gentleman. The kind of man you want to present to your parents.

My exile in London didn’t allow me to discover Aidan’s flaws or anything else; the man is so perfect it’s flabbergasting.

I mean, I took both Abby and him in a no-mans-land, the border of patience and still Aidan held. They only argued behind closed doors. Aidan’s most significant act of violence was driving off and coming back with a bouquet for Abby to apologize.

Aidan deserves this baby, and so does Abby.

“I’m so happy for you, Abbs.”

Abby smiles, and tears roll down her eyes; I know what they mean. My sister desired this baby so severely without knowing I am crying, too, as I realize the impact of my departure. Abby’s body and mind needed peace to welcome the baby. What I’m feeling right now is a mixture of joy and regret.

I was such a pain.

After the tears and hugs, we start to eat, and the conversation takes a U-turn to my disadvantages.

“So Jane, have you chosen your college orientation?”

I don’t blame Abby; she’s just trying to make conversation.

“Eh.”

“Abby, do you know what Jane said when I asked her? Register me where there’s a spot,” dad says with a grin.

Rebecca and I are the only ones not dying of laughter.

“Oh, do you remember the orientation form in high school at the question of what do you want to be? Why do I have to be anything she wrote,” Abby adds.

Hahaha.

Okay, so they’re joking at my expense. I’m used to it. It’s just since it’s been a while; I’m having a hard time flying above it all and switching off.

Yes, I’m not very smart or a girl with ambition like Mona, I’m not a housewife prototype like Abby, and I’m not a CP3O like Rebecca.

I’m not like the female MCs of the books I read online, witty and pretty or on the verge of blossoming. I don’t have the willpower to evolve into a better me. Perhaps it’s because I have this gut feeling that I won’t live long, I tricked death once, but I doubt the reaper will let me off again.

I’m 20, and I don’t know how to describe myself, and I don’t want to define myself, but you can’t live without a tag in this world. If you’re tagless, then you’re an outcast. One needs the card, even a priced one. Any title will do, but you can’t just exist.

So I’m a waste of space, that’s it. I’ve found my tag: Jane Austin, aka #wasteofspace.

You see, I excel at useless reflections.

Society has a hard time dealing with people like me; it’s unthinkable to have someone without ambition.

One of my homeroom teachers once said it was the rich's luxury. I didn’t seize the comment’s depth, and I don’t think I grasp it now, but it makes sense. I’m not sure I would permit myself a lifelong cruise of listlessness if I were less fortunate.

I take a deep breath; I can’t benefit from self-pity.

Lunch ends, and my father retires in his office, I go to change my t-shirt, which I stained with ice-cream, and when I come back down, I find Abby and Rebecca whispering. Rebecca’s eyes are red, and Abby pats her on the back.

What’s this?

Rebecca’s tinfoil skin is going to rust if she cries.

Abby gets up as soon as she sees me, “Jane, let’s go for a walk.”

I don’t get it, but I get ready, and Abby and I leave for I don’t know what destination.

Abby links arms with me like when I was in middle school and as we go.

“Aren’t you jet-lagged?”

Abby tightens her grip on my arm, “I’m fine, and I want to make the most of it. I’m only here for three days.

“Three days,” I gasp.

“Yep, I only wanted to share the news, and I hate being away from Aidan.”

“You truly love him, don’t you?”

“Yes, I could die for Aidan. I threatened him he must pass away after me because I probably end my life if she left before me.”

I don’t understand such statements, love is an abstract concept for me, and I openly blame Rebecca for her lack of emotion and limited guidelines.

Rebecca has never taught Abby and me anything; that’s why I’m a mess, and my sister married the first man who showed her a little tenderness.

“How’s Mona?”

“She’s still crazy; you’ll probably see her later.”

She doesn’t ask about Brad; Abby barely knows him by name.

“Abby.”

I don’t know if it’s the right moment, but I feel I should apologize, and I wonder if it’s not the reason why she asked me to go for a walk.

“I’m sorry, Abby, for everything I put you guys through.”

“It’s okay, Jane. I’m just happy you are fine now. I hope you’ve found or that you’ll discover what you are looking for.”

What am I looking for here?

It’s clear I won’t bring the people I killed back to life; I don’t sleep better in Korea than in London. I don’t think I’ve dissipated any of my issues.

What am I precisely doing here?

Nothing is the answer and the purpose of my life.

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