I woke up first as usual and with terrible head and body aches jabbed me at once. Guess the alcohol of yesterday was a bit more than my body could handle. I got up, draped my brother properly with his favourite blanket and went to the health kit in the kitchen to get an aspirin. On second thought, I decided to bring out the whole sachet of aspirin and put water in glasses for my siblings in case they need the aspirin when they awaken.
I cleaned up where we ate and then went to have my bath in my assigned room in Alfred’s house; since I sometimes crashed with him, I asked for a room so I could have some clothes over at his house. That way, I wouldn’t have to run home whenever I needed a change of clothes. I dressed up in a track trousers and a tank top and then I took my usual early morning run.
Entry by Katherine Alexander
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I woke up as I heard the front gate being closed, I figured that would be Katherine going for her usual morning jog which, if we are being precise, was more like a run. I was served a terrible headache for breakfast, the adverse effect of the alcohol. I washed my face and then went to the kitchen to get something for the headache in the health kit, I met aspirin waiting for me on the counter and two glasses of water. Knowing that it was Katherine’s handwork, I smiled. That girl was so thoughtful. If she weren’t my sister, she would have been the one, the perfect woman for me. I took the glass of water and the aspirin, then I put coffee grain in the coffee maker to brew. While waiting for my coffee, I have my bath, dress up in my usual black jean trousers and a blue shirt. On getting back to the kitchen, my coffee was ready so I poured some of the black coffee into my insulated travel mug, added a little coffee crème, no sugar. Just like I love it. I got my car keys and left the house
Entry by Alfred Alexander
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I woke up just as I heard a car pull out of the house. I’m guessing that would be either Alfred or Katherine but most likely Alfred. I turned on my stomach and looked at the watch still attached to my wrist. I didn’t realise I slept that long. I couldn’t get up on my first two attempts as I got dizzy and lost my balance.
I miraculously walked to the bathroom, washed my face, had a hot bubble bath and suddenly I felt a so much better but still had a nagging headache. I decided to take the last aspirin kept on the table and took the black coffee which I think my brother made instead of the glass of water which I believe ever practical Katherine kept on the table. I determined that breakfast; I scrambled some eggs and then fried some very delicious bacon and a few sausages and then I, having the rare opportunity of being the super caring aunty for once, went to wake Kayla up and that was when I discovered that I was the last person to wake up. I gave Kayla the treat of my special kind of hot bubble bath, after which I dressed the girl in white leggings and a light brown gown top and I helped her style her hair into two doughnuts. Kayla fought me every step of the way, telling me how much of an adult she was and how she could do all these things herself but it was the first time I got to really take care of her. The first time I got to be all that an aunt should be, and I was going to take full advantage of this opportunity. I served Kayla breakfast, accompanied it with a warm glass of milk which Kayla, so respectfully thanked me for. I knew that Kayla was all grown up. At 7,she looked like the whole world was accountable to her and there was just a magical feeling attached to watching this girl and how she did everything she did, it was like taking a peek into a fairy princess’s world. As I cleared Kayla’s dishes and was in the process of washing it, Katherine returned to the house with her dog, Calmstorm and two small bags. She entered the house through the kitchen and it honestly took everything within me to refrain from rolling my eyes at that blasted dog.
“Good morning, Kat” Kayla said and went to hug Katherine, I have to admit I was a little jealous, all morning and I didn’t get a hug, not even the sweet beaming smile that seemed to light up on Kayla’s face as Katherine walked into the kitchen
“I brought what we would need for the weekend.” Katherine said after Kayla released her and she sat down beside Kayla at the table
Kayla looking at her like as if Katherine was her goddess or something similar.
“Good morning, sis.”
“Good morning, Liz.”
“Those are my bags, where are yours?”
“I live here. My things are in my room”
“Wow! You have permanent residence”
“Elizabeth, I’m close to Alfred, I was there for him during the storm, I have always been the closest to him, and I know him better than anyone else”
“I understand but I’m just not used to this kind of closeness, I wish the three of us were as close as the two of you are. It just kind of makes me jealous. I mean you never take me out on such escapades you take with Alfred. Yesterday was the very first and it was exhilarating”
“I understand. It’s perfectly normal to feel the way that you are feeling now. I sometimes feel that way when I see you with mother and how close the two of you are and how she always seems to praise you and use you as an example to me”
“I’m sorry, I’m really sorry”
“No, please don’t be. It’s natural for you to be the example and besides they are right sometimes”
The two sister hug and then Katherine poured a cup of black coffee, she added a lot of coffee mate and sugar into her coffee to the extent that I feared that the coffee almost looked like, just plain milk. She then sat down to read the magazine that Kayla just got from the mail and kept on the table. I guess that since she spent her weekends at Alfred’s place, she sent her weekend deliveries to Alfred’s house, it just seemed so cosy, like she was a part of this family. A close knitted family that I was not a part of.
“What are those?” I asked pointing at the mazagines that Katherine was gleefully glancing through
“These are some fashion Magazine which I use to get new decorating inspiration styles for my business.”
“You mean for your planning stuff” I said absently
“I take offence. That is very cold of you”
”I’m sorry. I didn’t know that you feel strongly about it”
“Thanks but I really take my business very serious yet very delicately, just like my baby”
“My very big mouth”
“Thank God that you know that” we laughed and Kayla smiled, it felt so good to laugh and talk amicably with my sister. Katherine finished up her coffee and she went towards the sink to wash it.
“No, don’t worry. Let me wash it.”
“Don’t worry, I enjoy washing my dishes myself and besides it is just a cup”
“I know but please let me wash it.”
“Liz, you don’t have to try to please anybody. Ok? I understand that you are in the phase of trying to enter our lives, and be a part of us and trust me, we are overjoyed to have you in our world but we don’t want you to swallow phlegm for the sake of decorum. Kayla honey, why don’t you go to the garden and catch some butterflies for your collectibles, how many butterflies have you caught so far, honey”
“Just 3, can you imagine only three butterflies in a month”
“Don’t give up now, three is a lot and I’m sure that they are all colourful”
“That’s another thing; they are not so colourful, mostly brown and dark green”
“Well, that is good honey, why don’t you go ahead and try your luck today and in a few minutes, we would look for them together and Lizzy would help us after which we just might go out to play lawn tennis”
“Is daddy going to meet us there for long tennis? He beats you flawlessly all the time”
“Well, we’ll see about this time, we’ll drop by at his office and we’ll see who will be the lawn tennis champion”
“Should I get some sunscreen cream?”
“You wouldn’t need it, the atmosphere would be cool. Now, go and get some butterflies before they all vanish and you wouldn’t be able to catch any butterflies. Kayla darling, please remember not to go far into the woods. Stay close to the path ”
Kayla ran out and left the two of us; Katherine was smiling at Kayla while I was genuinely dumbfounded and dumbstruck, butterfly catching, really, are we in Disneyland or something, when do 7 year old girls run after butterflies? She will just get her beutiful outfit dirty for no apparent reason but I knew better than to share my views with my sister.
“Like I was saying, don’t always try to please, people would love you more if you just act like yourself. I mean act natural and most importantly, the mistake that you should never make is to try to please Kayla. Do not be fooled by the looks of that little angel, she is also an expert at being a little devil so don’t even give her the opening that she needs. She is a very terrible opportunist and she uses every opportunity to the fullest. She has mastered the art of exploiting every chance given to her so watch out with Kayla. She is adorably dangerous. let’s go and help her out in catching those terribly impossible to catch little things known as butterflies, remember that we promised to help her out with that exercise. She loves to study those creatures”
“You promised to help her without including me and you did not seek my opinion but still I’ll follow you all the same, come on let’s go.”
As dumb as I knew it was, I still helped in hunting those butterflies. As expected, we ended up with mud on all our dresses and in places mud had no business being in. To make matters worse, guess what happened or didn't happen, we didn’t even catch a butterfly but unexpectedly we did have fun
We all had to go take quick showers immediately after. Katherine came downstairs dressed in a tennis skirt and white fitted tank top with a built-in shelf bra, complemented with a matching headband round her packed hair, a wristband and an off-white soled tennis shoes. Kayla was dressed in a one piece tennis dress with a pair of pink tennis shoes. I was dressed in a long blue jeans bum short and a body hugging top with a 4inched block heeled sandals. I know it is not ideal but since I have no intention of sweating and smelling, there was no use to dress like I was interested in playing tennis. Since I had no intention of playing, my goal was to look as effortlessly hot as possible. I don’t know who I might meet but my dressing caused Katherine and Kyle to raise their eyebrow. They both didn’t make any comment at all, much to my disappointment.
Katherine went to Alfred’s room to pick out his sleeveless round neck shirt and his tennis shorts with his custom made tennis sneakers. There is no doubt about it, my brother has impeccable taste. She kept all she took from his room in her gym bag while Kyle and I went to the garage and got into Alfred’s second car. I love SUV's but Alfred is the king of collecting the most distinctive SUVs I have ever seen. I do not know much about cars but mere looking at his car will cause you to fall in love. I got excited and I inserted the key into the ignition and tuned the key which caused the engine to roar to live, the sound of the engine gave me a warm fuzzy feeling. I must state that I started the car against all advice from Kayla. But really, would you blame me?
Katherine got out of the house, locked the doors and came towards the driver seat which I was still occupying and she opened the door, which made Kayla immediately say
“I told you so” Katherine ignored the comment and faced me not even looking or glancing for a spilt second at Kayla’s direction in the back seat. I didn't want to believe that Katherine will not allow me drive the car
“Liz, go to the back”
“Why? I can drive as well” I pointed out. She knew I could drive so what was the hassle for?
“I know that you can drive but not this car.”
“Why? What makes this car any different or special?”
“The thing that makes this car especially different is the fact that it belongs to Alfred and he definitely would not take it lightly if you drove this car”
“But he would allow you drive it because you are what? Are you his wife?” I poked, there had always been this weird thing between Katherine and Alfred. Mum had shared some of her concerns on the issue. We were really worried that there may be something untoward happening between the two of them. They act like they have feelings for each other and I mean romantic kind of feelings. They try to hide it but we see right through them. I really hope mum and I just have overactive imaginations. Katherine and Alfred being romantically involved would be a scandal we will never recover from
“Haven’t you noticed that I am his wife, his heart and his soul or are you too blind to see? Get down, I don’t have all day” she said with her usual sarcastic voice, the old Katherine was back, silly me for thinking things were already different between us
“You just hit a nerve and it would do you a lot of good if you don’t go with us because if you go with us, you wouldn’t like yourself. Once mum is angry, dad is also angry so why don’t you just sit at home and relax because once they start their love it would be disgusting.”
Kayla whispered sarcastically into my ears while Katherine was placing the bags in the booth. Katherine was right, the minx was a little devil. I mustered as much dignity as I could, got down and sat at the passanger's seat beside the driver's seat. I wasn’t giving either one of them the opportunity to bully me or the satisfaction of embarassing me.
“Sometimes it is good to listen to instructions especially when it concerns mom and dad” Kyle continued her sarcastic taunt.
Katherine and I did not talk all the way to Alfred’s office. We entered Alfred's office building with Alf Dreams boldly written at the entrance of the imposing structure. Everybody seemed to love Katherine. They were all genuinely smiling and greeting Kayla and Katherine. For the first time in my entire life, people seemed to ignore me and this didn’t sit well with me at all. The whole scene just made me boil the more and feel like I wasn’t a part of this their little cosy world. It felt like the universe wanted to make sure I got the message.
To make matters worse, when we were about to enter Alfred’s office, the secretary denied me entrance. That was the most embarrassing part of my day. I was not walking closely behind them so they had entered before me and the secretary told me I couldn’t go in. I wasn’t allowed access until Katherine came back out and said ‘she’s with me’, not even ‘she’s my sister’ but ‘she’s with me’. The secretary did not even apologise to me, she apologized to Katherine. I was livid but also determined to enter their world, I wouldn’t let this incident get to me. I decided not to let my humiliation show so with all the dignity I could muster again, I followed Katherine into the wonderfully furnished office. That would be the very first time I would enter Alfred’s office. I loved his deco and the ambience of the place. I doubt mum had entered his office before, she would surely have had a lot to say. His choice of deco and the whole room showed expensive and exquisite taste. I saw at the far end of the room, a luxurious, elegant and modern Persian executive desk and three men, one sitting at a side of the table beside the glass windows and dark blue curtains which were drawn slightly, I guess to keep out too much light. The other two were sitting at the other side. On the walls, were all pictures of Katherine, Kayla and himself. Even on his table were two pictures, one of Kayla and the other of himself. I knew the exact moment he looked up from the documents in front of him and registered our presence. His eyes lit up and a big smile formed on his lips, making the other two men turn to look at the reason for the smile that had then turned into a full blown grin. Katherine also seemed extremely excited and glided into his outstretched hands. She hugged him and surprisingly, sat down on his laps and he also showing affection gave her a peck on both cheeks and said something into her ears which made her laugh, then he signalled for Kayla to come and then he carried Kayla on Katherine’s legs and he repeated the gesture by giving her also a peck on both cheeks. From my perspective, that seemed to be a very uncomfortable position for him to be pecking Kayla from. He also said something in Kayla’s ears which caused her to giggle. This whole scene happened in front of the audience in his office and they weren’t concerned or bothered. It was as if no one else existed. He then rocked both of them on his chair a little longer. Kayla got up from both their legs but he held on to Katherine and they both stood up almost at the same time. The whole scene with Katherine just seemed so inappropriate to me. He excused himself from his business associates and took Katherine by the hand and led her to the other room which from the slight opening of the door, seemed like a sitting area. As I was trying to read their lips from the slightly opened door. Alfred stood up from the couch he was on to close the door of the enclosed space. I was left standing there with not as much as an acknowledgement from anyone. I felt beyond insulted, nobody noticed me! Not even Brian or Daniel sitting not too far away! Had I become a ghost overnight. Kyle, oblivious to the distress of her dearest aunt, went to sit on her father’s chair and started making calls on her dad’s phone.
I was left standing there in the middle of the room like a fool not knowing what to do with myself, where to sit, what to say, who to say it to. I felt so stupid and foolish! I felt like a worn out statue that nobody noticed. It was a hard day so far and it didn’t seem to be getting any better. I found myself questioning my whole resolve to become a part of their world because I honestly didn’t feel wanted. They didn’t seem like they were interested in me being a part of their world.
About thirty minutes later Alfred came out, changed, wearing the clothing that Katherine brought from home for him and when Kyle saw him, she gleefully shouted “Mission accomplished”. She got up from her father’s chair and went to sit on the couch. That was when I actually saw the couch, it blended with the background, how was anyone supposed to notice it at first glance?
“What were you doing with my phone?”
“Making a few calls.”
“And who were you calling, if I may ask?”
“Well, you may not ask.”
“I’m not telling you dad so please drop it” Katherine began to laugh, she had the most adorable laugh
“Why do I have the feeling, Katherine that you know something that you are not telling me and why do I think that you would not tell me at all”
“Guilty as charged.”
“The women in my life. Brian and Dan, I know this is unprofessional but I desperately need a favour from you, I really need you both to come with me, we need to move this meeting to a different location. Katherine wouldn’t let me off the hook and we have a deadline to meet. Before either of you say anything, please remember that it is a weekend. I would have suggested that we reschedule but let's be factual, we need these documents/plans fully structured and the budget fully examined before the next State, investors and landowners meeting and Wednessday is almost here. We all agreed to do this personally which is why we must sort this out together. You know my sister Katherine means so much to me and she really wants this favour. The compromise she would agree to is that we all play a round of lawn tennis to get our genius juices flowing and then we get back to work. We even have the option of getting outside the box ideas from her, if we choose to request for same”
“We need all the ideas we can get and that is why we have a team specifically assigned to that task. Since they have a few hours more before they submitted their report and the report from the finance/audit unit, I am open to some distraction but lawn tennis....?” Brain said
“I must tell you; this is highly unprofessional and unusual. Working with you Alfred has been laced with a lot of blurred lines between professional and unprofessional. I haven't quite decided if I like it or if it is time to abandon the whole project based on these unusual behavioural pattern. This is a first for me, really. I'm in. Let's indulge in some fun” My sweet Daniel said with a far-off look. He had always been a strange creature
“It’s settled then! They are coming! Gentlemen, if you want to play lawn tennis in suit, it’s okay with me but if not we can drop by at your houses for a change of clothes. Is that okay with you?” Katherine said
“Ok, sure, it almost sounds like I don’t have a choice besides I think we are all due for a break”
“And Dan, we definitely would stop by at that milkshake joint that I saw you last week, I was told that you take it every day, and today is Saturday, they have the strawberry special today” Katherine said and winked at my Daniel. Low blow sis! Low blow!
“Let’s do this. Man, you are right about one thing; the women in your life” I noticed that there was this dangerously amused yet interesting look in Dan’s eyes as he was looking at Katherine but his expression was mostly unreadable. I had spent some time with Dan and I’ve gotten to know him a little. In all that time, I had never seen that expression on his face and it was a little unsettling, I made a resolution within myself to watch Daniel besides I thought I was the focus of his attention and affection. Ever since Andrew's dreadful party, Dan had not called or texted me which was very much unlike him. I resolved to find the time to ask him about it.
“You can say that again and I’m really sorry for including you in this scheme that these women in my life planned” Alfred continued, not noticing any change in his business associate’s expression. Alfred and Katherine could be very clueless at times, they ignored me all through. I didn’t have to tell either of them my suspicions besides I didn’t owe them anything.
“Come on Alfred, you make us sound like some characters in a book, come on, hurry up, the tennis court waits for no one not even the famous Alexander family". Katherine said as she led the way out of the office
“Hey, Lizzy, how are you? I’m so sorry but I didn’t see you there earlier. Come on, let’s go” Alfred said on the way out of his office, I think that was the point I was at the verge of tears, I honestly didn’t know how to react to that.
We went to Brian’s house to get him a change of clothes, as agreed and then we went to the club to play lawn tennis at the only private club in town, Alfred beat Katherine at it and quite mercilessly at that.
After a few rounds of all of us disgracing ourselves with our skills or lack thereof on the tennis court, we freshened up and went to Dan’s favourite milkshake joint where we all ordered the strawberry special milkshake and that was when I decided that it was definitely worth the hype.
The men moved on to discuss the business issues and the plans they were discussing in the office before our interruption. They seemed to have gotten the financial reports they were waiting on and they were going over the figures while on phone with a John. If I was to pick a moment that was the peck of my embarrassment, it would be that moment as I could not contribute a thing to everything they were saying. I didn’t have a clue about anything remotely related to the topic of discussion. In my defense, not everyone was informed about numbers, architecture and structuring and the all those engineering and financial complexity. I felt so useless and stupid because even Kayla had something to contribute to the discussion when it came to the quotation prepared by that John person. We all headed back to Alfred's office. Katherine left Kayla and I in Alfred's office while she went out to god-knows-where. She reappeared after many hours.
We waited for Alfred to be through with everything work related before we all headed home, home being Alfred’s house. I miss home! my home! The place I am not invisible but very important! My parents’ house! Now I appreciate what I didn’t appreciate when I was at home! I miss being the center of attention! I don't want to be a part of their world again! I am the queen of my world! I am content being in my world!