Black Sheep

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“Have you seen your sister’s facebook?” Mia handed me a much needed glass of white wine.

I nodded my thanks and looked around the milling throng attending the wake, most of whom I had no idea as to their identity.

“You know I don’t bother with those things,” I re-informed my ex-wife. “Why, has she sent condolences?” I added, scoffing at the actual thought of it.

Six months Mom had lain dying and not a word from Carly, let alone a visit. That she would spend a second acknowledging our mother’s death was to me, both amusing and sad.

“No, she’s coming!” Mia informed me, already accentuating the fact by nodding, as if she knew I’d look in her eyes for signs of jest.

“To the funeral? Well it’s a bit late for that.”

“No here. To the wake,” Mia explained. “It was your son that saw it.”

“He’s on Facebook? He’s only eleven years old!” The thought of him following my sister on social media made me pale. “Oh god, she’s not still posting ‘those’ photos is she?”

The question caused Mia to cough on her own drink. “Oh no, thankfully. Well not on Facebook. I don’t think Connor knows about her Insta account. Thank the lord.”

If he was navigating his way around Facebook I reasoned, he’d know about Instagram, but tried to dismiss the image of my son let loose on the world wide web from my mind as I was approached by elderly friends of my deceased mother, wishing their best.

*

It was early afternoon and my sister’s impending return to our childhood home had slipped from thought with the departure of many of the guests. It wasn’t until the excited squeal of my six year old daughter from the entrance hall broke the sombre mood of the day did her expectant presence take actual form. No one else could make Lucy scream in excitement like her long absent auntie, and though my feelings towards Carly right then were mixed, I joined my family to welcome her arrival.

In the process of hugging my wife. Correction, my ex-wife, (I continue to make that mistake) Carly’s arm was being dragged to the side by my daughter, eager to claim my sister for her own. Connor looked on with the puppy dog eyes he’d always had for his aunt. Eyes I recognised as probably not dissimilar to my own at his age. Looking upon a goddess. A goddess that just happened to be part of the family.

My presence was felt in the hallway and Carly’s eyes dragged up from over my wife’s shoulder to settle on me, a fresh glass of wine still in hand.

“Hey stranger,” I offered after a moments silence where even little Lucy could sense tension between us.

“I’m sorry,” Carly stated, her eyes teary as she pressed her body against me in an embrace. How ‘sorry’ she actually was intrigued me with her lack of compassion during the last year or her failure to attend the funeral but those questions would wait. Right then, it was just pleasant to see her, to have her back home for how little time she was endeavouring to treat us.

It again was Lucy that dragged us apart, pulling Carly across to a settee to show her a drawing she’d done. I noticed a large well used suitcase beside the door and wondered if indeed she was planning on staying on?

“It’s wonderful,” Carly praised Lucy’s art whose own attention was drawn to the artwork adorning my sister’s arm. A temporary henna tattoo daubed her left hand but it was the intricate lattice work of ivy running her entire arm from wrist to shoulder that demanded investigation, Lucy tracing her fingers across the green trending to red leaves upon the vine.

“That’s new,” my ex-wife seemed to convey my thought and Carly regaled us with the when and where of her latest acquisition.

“So are you planning on hanging around?” I broke into her story probably too abruptly and much more callous sounding than I meant.

“Well yeah, I was hoping to,” Carly stated. “I’m sure I can find somewhere cheap to rent.”

Lucy and Connor were understandably ecstatic with the news, my son taking the opportunity to hold her other hand in a bid to mimic his sister’s innocent examination of her skin and the tattoos thereupon.

“Well obviously you’ll stay here until then,” Mia proposed and Carly’s eyes immediately went to mine.

“I mean that would be great if I could,” Carly questioned me, Lucy answering for me.

“Of course you must!” She maturely stated. “Dad showed us your old room, it’s mine when I’m staying here but you can have it. There’s a grown-ups bed in it and everything. Come on I’ll show you.”

Connor as well was eager to lead my sister up the stairs and I stopped their progress as the two of them dragged her off the settee.

“Wait a second,” I challenged and all three sets of eyes looked furtively toward me, nervous I was about to object. “Maybe you could carry your aunts suitcase up for her Connor, what do you say?” I proposed, essentially giving my approval, and eager to show his strength, Connor was quick to comply.

“You’re holding up well,” Mia placed an arm around my waist when they’d reached the landing, out of earshot.

“For now,” casino oyna I countered. “She hasn’t said anything. Why would she even come back at all? And today of all days. It wasn’t for Mom’s funeral, so why?”

“I don’t know,” Mia offered. “Ask her. You’ve said yourself you and her were close. Maybe she thinks it’s time. And the kids love her. It’d be good to have another potential babysitter on call.”

I hugged Mia myself, glad she had been there for me today; during the last year, despite our divorce.

“Thanks for today,” I stated. “Helping with everything.”

“Hey it’s what ex-wives are for isn’t it?” She laughed.

I frowned in response. “Hmm, I’m not sure about that, but I’ll take it. Are you going to hang around for a while?”

“I don’t see why not,” Mia smiled. “Try dragging those kids away from her now anyway.”

“I think Connor has a crush on her,” I admitted and Mia once again laughed.

“What man doesn’t?” She giggled.

*

I bade farewell to the last of the guests late afternoon and finally breathed out. The delighted screams of the kids in the backyard, especially Lucy’s was a welcome sound echoing through the house and picking up paper plates and some empty glasses from the hallway I ventured toward the distraction. Depositing the rubbish in the kitchen, I walked out into the strong sunlight in the yard and shielding my eyes looked upon the entirety of my family.

Carly was in the process of climbing out of the pool, Lucy impatiently awaiting her to watch her dive. Connor was doing laps, the little would-be olympian demonstrating his prowess for his favourite aunt, ignoring his mother’s warning to ‘not go too hard.’

I looked back at my sister, the water cascading down over the barely there olive colored bikini that she ‘just’ wore. Was I being prudish? It covered all of the contentious regions I supposed. Maybe having children of my own had made me more conservative? Certainly twenty years prior I’d have done just about anything to see my big sister as she was; in less. The sudden recollection of my youth took me by surprise. God I spoke to myself. It’s more than twenty years!

Before Lucy had a chance to dive, Carly pushed her in, jumping in directly behind her to splash my daughter as her head arose, laughing and not the least resentful for the trick.

“It’s nice to hear laughter around here again,” Mia smiled at me, sunning her legs on a deck chair.

“Stay for dinner?” I proposed, admittedly not looking forward to being alone with Carly and the eventual argument I knew would come.

“It’s school tomorrow Trey,” Mia acknowledged. “We’d be getting home too late if we stayed on.”

I understood where she was coming from. The kids would be overexcited from seeing Carly anyway, bedtime later than was usual would be a nightmare for both of us were we still together, alone, I didn’t envy her. Mia looked at her watch, I think sensing my reason for asking. “We’ll stay till five.”

*

“Can we stay next weekend Daddy?” Lucy anxiously asked as I saw them into the car well after Mia’s anticipated departure time. “If Carly’s still here,” she threw in the addendum.

I looked at Mia in the front seat and she was nodding furiously, obviously ecstatic about the possibility of an added weekend without the kids.

“I’m sure that can be arranged Honey,” I kissed my daughter before attempting the same on Connor who without malice shirked away, his eyes looking over my shoulder to be sure Carly hadn’t observed him. I ruffled his still damp hair instead and wished them a safe drive home before taking a deep breath and re-entering the house.

Carly remained where the kids had reluctantly said goodbye to her, stretched upon a banana lounge catching the last of the sun’s rays before it dipped below the tree-line. She poured wine into my glass as she noticed me head back out, handing me the glass as I dropped back into my own deck chair.

“Thanks,” I told her, downing a large amount of the glass in one go, Carly smiling over her sunglasses.

“Big day huh!” She grimaced.

“You could say that again,” I sighed and she did, repeating the claim which drew a smile from me.

“There’s lots of leftovers,” I observed. “At least I don’t have to make anything for dinner.”

“Mm, I would’ve suggested a delivery anyway had there not,” Carly stated.

It was all small talk and it continued on for the next five minutes while I ran through my head the amount of times she’d been home in the last decades, coming up blank when imagining the last time she’d stepped foot inside this house. For a while it felt like no time had passed. Sitting out there together we could still have been in high school. Pool parties with friends. Her face turned up to the sky and I took a moment to admire her body, still perfect in my eyes even now closing in on her 41st birthday. Where had the time gone? In her early twenties leaving for college, then leaving for good and not looking back, rarely re-entering our lives. The bikini in the process of drying, canlı casino from my vantage still damp between her upper thighs where it created a pronounced cameltoe. It sat lower on her pubic bone than it’d been when Mia and the kids were there I perceived, paler skin and the hint of pubic hair above the hem. I felt myself blush and looked further up along her body, quickly skirting over her breasts to more palatable viewing, her tattooed arms.

“They’re new,” I repeated my ex-wife’s observation and her face lowered to aim in the direction I looked.

“I was sure I had the right arm done the last time I was in town,” she proposed and I shook my head.

“Do you even remember when that was?” I charged and she lowered her glasses.

“Not really,” she replied, sensing my mood change.

“Connor was only nine. I’m surprised Lucy remembers you at all.”

“What do you want me to say?” She challenged. “I’ve been working. Travelling.”

“Yeah, so busy you couldn’t even come back for Mom’s funeral. To see her while she was dying.”

“Did she ask to see me?” Carly threw back and it took me by surprise. She hadn’t. And the fact I hadn’t thought of that fact prior shocked me and left me momentarily speechless.

I didn’t answer her question, rising from the chair with a non-committal shrug and went to the edge of the pool. I heard her rise from the lounge behind me and as she did I dropped to my knees to rescue a lady bug from the surface of the water. Seeing it safely back on land, I looked to my left and my sister’s bare feet.

“He swims like you, you know,” Carly changed the subject. “Connor. All arms and splashes,” she chuckled.

I squinted in the last rays of the sun and looked up her body, my face level with her crotch, her nipples now more overt.

“Like I used to!” I challenged, smiling.

“Oh yeah? Prove it,” she stated and ever so quickly she had both hands pressing my back. Fully clothed I fell headfirst into the pool, the water colder than I’d expected, bobbing back up, catching my breath to see Carly in rapturous delight above me.

“Oh god I wish the kids were here right now,” she laughed, dropping to a knee on the poolside and reaching a supporting arm down.

I swam to the edge and accepted her help, taking hold of her tattooed forearm but dragged her into the pool instead. Her shocked scream muffled by the water as she fell. She came back up spluttering, laughing, wiping water from her eyes as I held onto the edge of the pool.

“I’ve missed you,” I admitted, being together with her, alone in the pool bringing memories flooding back. Of innocent play as children and teens and then not so innocent as we aged. Were they real? Memory is so corruptible, over the years I began to tell myself much of what I though was true was possibly fantasy. She came to my side and clung to the edge facing me, still the twenty year old girl I remembered from my visions.

“I’ve missed you to,” she concurred as my teeth chattered, a smile returning to her serious visage. “Come on, lets get out of here.”

*

Showered, she returned downstairs hauling her suitcase and I thought the worst until she explained.

“I can’t stay in my old bedroom, Trey,” she admitted. It had been completely redecorated for my daughter in the years we’d been living there until the divorce, but the bones remained. “There’s too many memories,” she added.

“It’s alright, come downstairs,” I stated, providing an alternative.

Much like my son, I was eager to take Carly’s case from her, gesturing for her to head to the basement as she frowned at me skeptically.

It was the room where we’d spent our teens. Parties, television, homework. Now refurbished, new carpet, painted. Carly’s eyes lit up at the transformation from dingy hangout to modern media/guest bedroom.

“Trey, it’s fantastic,” Carly beamed and I felt goosebumps run my spine. Everything was how it had been, but updated. CRT television to large flatscreen. Playstation one to Connor’s PS4. The tattered old couch to modular lounge, easily converted to a double bed. “We used to spend all our time down here just to get away from Mom and Dad,” Carly reminisced. “Now I actually want to!”

I placed the suitcase against a wall and joined her as she scoured a shelf of old cd’s.

“Remember these things?” She laughed as she pulled out a title and flipped the cover. “This is mine!” She remarked.

“Yeah, all your old cd’s are there,” I acknowledged. “Like I was going to throw away all your stuff!”

She placed the disc back and looked down at the gaming console. “Oh god. Remember that game we used to play for hours? The bandicoot one.”

I stepped back and sat down on the sofa, recalling the game and the memories it invoked. Of Carly laying on the floor as I sat behind her. Her legs spread enabling me to see up her skirt. Of her looking back over her shoulder and catching me, parting them further. Had that actually happened? I wondered.

“Yeah of course,” I stated. “Crash Bandicoot. It was awesome,” I added. kaçak casino Was I referring to the game or her?

She joined me on the couch and lay back, the light sun dress settling upon her body, moulding to her every bump, most notably her groin.

“You know I was there when we released some back into the wild in Western Australia a few years ago,” she confided. “I thought of you!” She added.

“What? Real bandicoots?” I quizzed to which she nodded. “Is there anything or anywhere you haven’t been or done?” I marvelled.

She was quiet a moment as I leaned back on the lounge with her.

“There are still some things I haven’t done,” she cryptically answered, her eyes searching mine and I wondered what she meant by her demeanour?

I wanted to kiss her. The more I looked at her, the stronger my feelings for her. If none of those last years of her at home had been merely my overacting imagination, we’d been on the verge of fucking. I had no doubt. We’d kissed. Not innocently either. I could describe the account perfectly even so many years later. In this same room discussing my then girlfriend. Carly had wanted to hear all about our date, even down to the kiss which I’d described as ‘awkward.’ Her offer to see if it was me that was the problem, try out on my sister. It was her’s, the first tongue mine met. And then New Years Eve. By the pool. Neighborhood fireworks and Carly the closest girl at midnight. At 18 and 20 years old respectively. Brother and sister. We knew what we were doing. Alcohol affected or not.

“I know!” Carly declared. “Leg’s get drunk and stay up listening to cd’s! Like old times.”

I was taking the next day off work for bereavement leave anyway, but even not, there was nothing I wanted to do more. Well, maybe something.

*

“Remember sneaking upstairs and drinking Dad’s booze?” Carly sat crosslegged on the carpet as I passed her another glass of bourbon and ice.

It brought a smile. Running back downstairs and smelling the other’s breath to prove we’d gone through with it.

“I remember getting caught!” I recollected. “Dad smacked me so hard. Can you believe they would do that?”

“Not Mom,” Carly noted. “Not to you anyway. You were her golden boy.”

Carly changed the cd, on her knees and leaning forward, her dress riding up on her hips. History felt like it was repeating. More than twenty years later and my eyes descending once again on my sister’s ass, the smoothness of the back of her thighs, the hint of white panty as she leaned lower. All it would take is her to look around and catch…and then it happened.

The first song playing, Jeff Buckley’s ‘Everybody Here Wants You’ and Carly turning her head to see my eyes lazily make their way from her bottom. A smile. A knowing smile? Coming to her lips before she retook her seated position. It was the same song. Playing when we first kissed. In the same room.

Did she remember? Was it planned?

“Why did you go?” I asked as I drained another glass. “Why didn’t you come back?” I added. Two questions that had haunted me for years.

“Mom,” she answered as if a response to both.

“What, so you have a fight with Mom and then wait for her to die before returning?” It was then I thought of her timing. “God tell me you didn’t come back just for the will?”

Carly turned her face from me and when she looked back there were tears in her eyes.

“You really think that?” She questioned, not waiting for me to respond. “How do you not get it Trey?”

I looked back blankly, still not understanding but troubled I’d made her upset.

“All I know is things were cool and then you go and leave. You drop by every two years or so and then whoosh, gone again,” I was yelling. Unsure why. “Now you say you’re gonna hang around awhile. What for? The house, the money?”

“You’re a dick if you think that!” Carly spat back.

“Then what?”

“It’s you, you fuck!” She shouted as Jeff Buckley aptly sang ‘…they all look so good from a distance but I tell you I’m the one.’ “It’s always been about you.”

She rose from her seated position leaving her drink behind and marched to her suitcase as I looked on stunned. Tearing it open she brought forth an envelope and threw it at me. The paper yellowed and soft from age I held it before myself.

“What’s this?” I challenged.

“Read it you asshole. I’m going to get some air.” She took the bottle of bourbon from the table and stormed away upstairs, the song ending to leave me in the now silence of the empty basement.

The one word on the front read ‘Trey’ and inside was a single sheet of paper as aged as the envelope. Thin and delicate, the writing in red ink, faded with time.

My heart broke as I began to read.

‘My dearest little brother,

There are words we long to say but rules always hold us back. Prevent us from declaring. For years I’ve wanted to tell you how I feel. To admit this lifetime of love I’ve had for you. So many times I’ve been on the verge of admitting, biting my tongue and hoping you take the lead and say it first. For surely you feel it too. We should be together. More than brother and sister. We’re both adults now and there’s only the taboo that can stop us acting upon what I know we both feel.

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