The Gentiles

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Callie

I absolutely love the linguistic phenomena called rebracketing. Words divided differently than what they were intended to be results in a whole new different interpretation and the formation of a new word or words just amazes me. I have always been fascinated by this process since I have learnt about it in middle school until it was ruined for me that very same year during Thanksgiving dinner.

“Pretty dress, Callie.” The ever sweet Ane had complimented my outfit. It was such a huge merit, to be praised by her. She was the prettier one between the two of us and I’ve been jealous of her height ever since I could remember.

Mom had purchased the dress a month ago as a surprise for me. It was supposed to be a Sunday dress but I found it too beautiful even for church so I saved it until the next big celebration we’d have as a family which was Thanksgiving.

The dress was salmon pink with see through cap sleeves and a sweetheart neckline. The skirt falls just at my knees and has the perfect volume around it.

Mom chose the same colored short heeled Mary Janes to match with it and even did my hair in a series of braids pinned with golden hair clips.

I felt beautiful wearing it, even more so when daddy called me his little princess. Of course, the best appraisal came from Harry when he described how the dress perfectly complements my hair color and how it brings out the blue in my eyes.

Cheesy, I said to myself, but I ate it all up and thanked him bashfully.

I know, pathetic. But this was before when I was hopelessly pining for him.

I didn’t elaborate on how it was perhaps because of my contact lenses that my eyes looked a little bluer than usual. I had worn clear contacts but they still magnified the heck out of my eyes because of how high my astigmatism read.

Abe had been late for dinner.

Baba gave him thirty minutes before it was decided that the food was getting too cold and we began without him. He didn’t answer any of his parent’s phone calls, nor Ane’s. Not even Harry could get a hold of him.

He wanted to search for Abe but was prevented by baba.

When Abe finally arrived, we just about finished desert. I was on my way to the toilet when I heard a rustling and found him ruefully tying a bandage on one of his hands with the help of his teeth.

He hadn’t even bothered to clean the blood off of it.

His piercing blue eyes met mine and in a swift motion he was on to me, breathing hard against my face.

This happened after the lake incident when he kept me underwater for seconds more than I could hold my breath. I was shaking with fear as he reached out and locked the door behind me.

Apart from the blood on his hands and his disheveled hair, he looked fine. Though, he maybe didn’t feel like it.

He had slowly studied me, the heat of his eyes traveling from my face down to my heels, then back again. He’d stepped closer to me, a hair's breadth away.

“Not one word.”

I’d nodded my head eagerly, eyes focused on him, cautious of his next movement.

He nodded towards the sink where he made a mess of the iodine and some cotton balls. “Help me clean up.”

For the next twenty minutes, I had tried my best to clean and bandage his wound, which was mostly peeled skin on his knuckles.

Harry’s knock on the bathroom door made me jump, asking if I was still alive.

I shouted at him from behind the door that he was right, I shouldn’t have gobbled too many mashed potatoes, which was met with the muffled sound of laughter.

I cleaned up the first aid kit while Abe sat on the toilet seat, watching me.

“You hate mom’s shit potatoes, too, huh?” he broke the silence.

I refrained from cringing at his words, afraid he’d notice and be offended.

Aunt Denise never missed cooking mashed potatoes whenever there’s a family gathering. It’s not that her cooking was bad. It was just that I was fed up with it.

“It was always the same thing.” I decided to tell him a neutral answer. It was the truth but I’d never admit to him I was sick of those dam potatoes just to add fuel to his hatred.

“Liar,” he murmured in a low voice. I still heard it.

I’m not sure if he meant for me to hear it or my hearing senses spiked up due to adrenaline.

Before I could reply, he pushed off the seat and opened the door to a confused Harry. One of his hands was about to knock on the door and after a beat of awkward uncertainty, his face broke out into a forced grin.

“Abe. You missed dinner.”

Harry’s voice was controlled and I could see a shift in his usually bright eyes.

“No, I didn’t,” Abe smoothly replied, eyeing me sideways.

He was making sure I didn’t talk. That I’d keep good on my word. I noticed he shoved his hands inside his coat pockets and understood what he meant.

The look I saw on Harry’s face when I turned to him was something I’d never seen before. His nostrils flared and he almost looked angry.

I pulled on his arm and led him towards the stairs, not wanting to spend any more second with Abe.

“My stomach still hurts, Harry. Please help me find nana’s ointment.”

Thankfully, he followed suit and went with me to nana’s sewing room.

“Did he hurt you?”

A little too late to ask that question, Harry.

I shook my head. “Of course not. Why would you think that?”

He didn’t look like he believed me but he dropped it nonetheless and gave me privacy as I rubbed the ointment on my supposedly ailing stomach.

I went back downstairs to everyone getting settled in for a game of scrabbles in the living room. I sighed when I saw that Abe wasn’t anywhere to be found and got comfortable kneeling on the carpet beside Harry, peeking at his tiles.

We were all paired up - my parents, baba and nana, uncle ken and aunt Denise, and Harry and I. Ane preferred to play alone, as she should, she was unbeatable in scrabble. Abe would have been her partner but he never played with us. He either watched or he was gone.

“Harry, you take Callie as your teammate,” baba informed him before turning to me. “Hope that’s alright with you, Lily?”

I did not digress and so we had begun the game.
A good twenty minutes in, Harry lost his luck drawing out good tiles and we were stuck with letters F, C, H, and Y. There was only one move we could do and it would only give us a low score, better than passing nonetheless so I arranged the tiles to formation.

“Fairy,” Ane said out loud after I had just placed the Y.

“Just like how she looked like one,” Harry commented out loud.

I blushed at the sentiment when a scoff made all of us turn our heads towards the cause of the sound. The hairs at the back of my neck stood up in an instant.
Abe leaned against the wall languidly, eyes glinting with mischief. None of us noticed his arrival.

“Fairy?”

I got chills down my spine knowing he was talking about me.

“She looks more like an imp.”

The blood drained from my face as my confidence shattered to a million pieces. Suddenly, I didn’t feel beautiful anymore. The dress that I was wearing had lost its sparkle, the glass of ignorance had shattered along with my self esteem.

Baba laughed and my heart sank to my stomach.

“You’re right, Abraham,” he said, patting the top of my head fondly. “I think nymph is more appropriate than a fairy. Fairies are for little girls and our Lily is growing into a beautiful young woman now.”

At the time, I thought I had only misheard Abe and did not think of it that much. However, he’d be unperturbed in calling me a nymph since then and at the back of my mind, I have this feeling that there was a hidden context behind it.

I wasn’t wrong.
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