The Lighter Side

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Family Bonding

I was confused when I woke up to Blake still driving and listening to Drake. He was mumbling the words under his breath, tapping the steering wheel. I studied the time that now said 6:30, opposed to a little after twelve when I went to sleep. Was I dreaming? First of all, we should be home. It doesn’t take six hours to get home. Secondly, he was listening to Drake. Mr. Rich Workaholic listened to Drake. I just had to voice my thoughts.

“You listen to Drake?” I marveled, not even hiding my astonishment.

He noted,” You’re awake.”

He reached over and turned down the volume. I brought my legs up in the seat, turning towards him a little. It wasn’t hard to notice how he avoided my question.

“Where are we going?”

I was met with silence.

“It’s a little far don’t you think?”

Zero sound waves entered my ears from his mouth. I was suddenly amused. If he wanted to play this game, I would play it too.

“Last night, I was studying my foot and one of my toes were the weirdest color. It was green and black with yellow stuff coming out of it. Should I be concerned?”

Not even a look of disgust.

“Oh my god, there’s a deer!” I screamed.

“What!” he exclaimed,” Where?”

That got a reaction.

His eyes were wide and frantic as he braked extremely hard. I admit it was really dangerous and stupid of me. It also hurt a lot more than I wanted it to. But was that worth it; although, not if we got in a car accident and we both died.

That wouldn’t be okay.

I started laughing to where it was hard for me to breathe.

“Blaine, that wasn’t funny,” he sneered, going back to normal speed.

For the next thirty minutes, I had gained control of the front panel, using his phone to play whatever song I wanted. I still refused to use my phone just yet. I would only use it when I absolutely needed it. We drove past a green sign that said Grover Hill in white letters.

“Isn’t this where my grandma stays?” I questioned, opening up the window. It was a little hot for fall.

“Yes,” he said, hesitantly. Was he hoping I didn’t notice?

“Are we going there?”

“No. We’re just passing through.”

I tried to hide my disappointment. If my grandmother was here, that meant Reed and Brielle was here, too. This would be one of my only opportunities to see them in while.

We both agreed we were hungry and decided to stop at this cute sandwich shop. For a little town at this time of day, there were many people out in every direction. It reminded me of a baby New York. The bell above the door chimed when I pulled on the metal handle, Blake grabbing the top of the door and opening it wider so he could fit through. Immediately, a lady rushed over to help us, leaving the other customers waiting at the counter.

“Mr. Siere, I didn’t know you’d be here today,” she squeaked, ushering us immediately to a table by the window. She handed Blake a menu and then turned to me.

This was weird. I wasn’t sure if I liked it or not. The lady smiled sweetly at me and placed a coloring book in front of me. I flinched as she bopped my nose and then returned to the slightly annoyed customers. Yeah, I didn’t like this.

I pushed the coloring book far away from me and crossed my arms,” What does she think I am? Six?”

Blake glanced up from the menu, looking deep in thought,” I suppose you do look like a Kindergartener.”

My mouth nearly dropped open. Was he serious or was he messing with me? He really appeared to be agreeing with that thought. I uncrossed my arms, placing them down to my sides and looking into the reflective glass beside me. I didn’t look like a kindergartener. In fact, I thought I could pass as being seventeen. I turned my head back to Blake.

“So, you’re saying I resemble your twin daughters?”

“Very much so. Same nose, mouth. The three of you look even more alike when you’re angry,” he observed.

I avert my gaze,” I guess that makes sense. We are supposed to be sisters.”

A waitress stopped at our table, writing our orders on a notepad. Thankfully, Blake let me borrow his menu so I didn’t have to order off the kids.

My thoughts wandered to the idea of this new baby. How did I not notice mom was pregnant? When I think back to it, it was very obvious. She was drinking a little less, smoking a little less. Keeping jobs longer than before.

I remember when I thought she was pregnant last year. It was only her stomach after giving birth to three children. She accused me of calling her fat, which wasn’t my attempt at all. This time, I just thought that was the case.

“Blake, how did you decide you wanted so many kids?” I inquire, peering at him through my eyelashes.

He looked taken off guard by my question. There were eight of us total, whether we were planned or not.

“I always had a big family growing up. I had five siblings and my two cousins lived with us for quite a while,” he answered, thoughtfully. “It made sense that I would want one myself.”

His eyes lit up and quietly chuckled,” I told my mom when I was younger I wanted to be like nineteen kids and counting. I’m glad I didn’t follow it through. I can barely handle five.”

The smile dropped off my face and I looked at the table. The air was quickly tense and I avoided eye contact. I didn’t want to make it worse than it already was. Stopping the awkward silence, the waitress came back and set down our orders in the table, dismissing herself quickly after.

I had lost my appetite and picked at my sandwich. I knew I shouldn’t get so overworked because of what he said, but I couldn’t lie and say it didn’t bother me. He was trying, but he didn’t see me as part of his family. He only had five kids in his eyes. Not eight. Not even six.

I knew Reed and Bri weren’t lying when they told me about their first visit with him. We didn’t exist to him unless we were waving our hands in his face. I didn’t seen like had a father. I only had my mom, Reed, and Bri and that was all I’d ever need in my opinion.

Pushing my plate away, I mumbled,” I’ll meet you in the car.”

When I walked outside, I relaxed, taking in the fresh air. It was nice and calm opposed to the raging storm inside of me. I wished to have a normal family. A mom and a dad, a dog and a couple brothers and sisters. Not filled with envy, hatred, and criminal activity. I made a promise to myself that when Griffy and my mom got out of jail, I would make them change. I would push until we were a normal family. I didn’t need my dad and his rich, perfect life.

When I looked up, I found a familiar pair of blue eyes and a brown tuft sticking out a black hat. The person was casually walking down the sidewalk, hands stuffed in the pocket of a black hoodie.

I couldn’t help myself. I ran.

**

As soon as I got close enough, I matched myself on him, clinging to him as tight as I could.

“What the he-Blaine,” he gasped, gripping my shoulder.

“Hey, big brother.” I grinned.

A smile gradually formed on his face as he pulled me to his chest, clutching me tighter than I had before.

“What are you doing here?” He asked as we walked down the sidewalk.

“Dad,” I told him, simply.

His face hardened, clenching his jaw. He and Dad didn’t have a great history from what I heard. He hadn’t exactly caught on to Jy either.

“So, you met him, huh?” he muttered, kicking a rock across the street.

I shrugged. I was still waiting to meet the man I would call my father. Honestly, Griffy had a greater chance than him.

“They don’t seem to like me that much,” I admitted softly.

He stopped us, grabbing a hold on my forearm,” Forget about them. We made it well without them before and we’ll do it again now. Dad’s full of money and dreams.”

He threw an arm around my shoulders and we continued walking until we reached the familiar house of my grandmother. Instead of leading me through the front door, he led me off to the side where there was a small house branched to the side.

He rolled his eyes at the loud music that was coming from inside and opened the door, increasing the sound. There was my older sister, dancing around with a boom in her hand, singing to her heart’s content. It was very enduring, but something I never missed back at home. She paused when she saw us walk through the door, pushing a button that stopped the music.

“Scotch bear!” She screamed, running me over with a hug.

She was definitely still the same and I didn’t think she would ever change. The bubbly, hyperactive girl. My mom gave her sleeping pills when she was six because she never stopped moving and she never went to sleep. Unfortunately, she had given her too much and we had to make an unexpected trip to the hospital because...she wasn’t okay. She sat me on the floor and then pressed the button for her music, returning to her broom.

“So, what’s been up?” I asked Reed as we made our way into the kitchen. I sat down on a chair at the table, resting my elbows on top of it.

He shrugged,” Nothing much. I got a job at a Chinese restaurant and finishing college up. Bri’s thinking of moving to LA. She has a dancing thing there.”

He reached into the fridge, grabbing out the apple juice and then went to grab two glasses out the cabinet. I gladly accepted the cup, taking a little sip out of it before setting it back down.

“Mom’s having a baby,” I sighed, my grip tightening on the cup.

He leaned back against the counter,” Yeah. Gran nearly had a heart attack when she heard. We’re all too old to have a baby around.”

“You sound like we’re all fifty years old,” I laughed, taking another sip.

“I certainly feel like it,” he joked.

Reed always made jokes about feeling old. Whenever we used to visit Gran and Gramps together, he used to steal Gramps cane and walk around the house with it, his back hunched and a loud groan coming out his mouth every time he took a step. Life was always easier with the two of them around. Suddenly, Bri appeared in the doorway, frowning as she looked at me.

“Blaine, did you tell Dad you were coming here?”

A loud knock sounded at the door causing me to jump and almost spill my juice. Reed immediately went to the door, swing it open. I watched as Blake pushed past him, looking around the room until his eyes landed on me. I could feel how angry he was at me. I shrunk in my seat as he came closer, his jaw tensed and his hands balled into a fist.

“You are in so much trouble,” he fumed. This was the most intimidating I’d ever seen him and it honestly scared me.

Reed tried cutting in,” Dad-”

“I don’t know what rules you had when you lived with your mother, but you live with me now. You are under my custody,” he yelled his face beet red. ” I don’t care if you don’t like what I say or what I do. You will respect me and my rules.”

I put my head down as I felt tears welling up. I hated being yelled at. It always made me cry and feel embarrassed, especially by teachers.

“Do you understand?” he asserted, waiting for my response.

“Yes, sir,” I whispered.

He mockingly put a hand to his ear,” What was that?”

“Yes, sir.” I gritted my teeth louder.

Satisfied, he nodded sharply,” We’re leaving.”

He grabbed my arm, tightly, but not enough to hurt me and pulled me to the front door.

“Bye Blaine,” I heard Reed say softly.

“We love you,” consoled Bri as she shut the door behind us.

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