Family picnic, p.1
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       Family Picnic, p.1

           Y. K. Greene
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Family Picnic


  Y.K. Greene

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  Family Picnic

  Copyright © 2011 Y.K. Greene

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  Family Picnic

  Lilith rolled over, and over, and over, till she fell out of the bed with a muffled thump. She stayed where she fell a moment, dozing on the clothes piled beside the bed, until fuzzy thoughts of being caught in Adrian’s room finally induced her to crack one sleep crusted green eye open.

  The room was a clean mess, just the way he left it with clothes, shoes and various objects scattered about the surfaces of the room, no chair, table or ledge went uncluttered; but no food or trash and little that was actually dirty, a fact Lilith took full advantage of as she decided the shortest path to the door was under the bed and sleepily slither-crawled beneath. Underneath the floor was surprising clear, nothing there but a few dust bunnies and one forlorn rabbit eared novel, but no eye opening gym socks and she made a mental note to bug Adrian less about his eccentric house keeping the next time she saw him.

  Reaching the door (she was forced to lever herself to her knees in order to reach the doorknob) Lilith poked her one open eye out of the crack. Saturday morning with any luck neither of her parents would be up for a few more hours and she could crawl back to her own bed unnoticed. If not she sighed, a rancid expulsion of morning breath, she would either be caught in the hall or woken in a little while for her lessons.

  Lilith saw no one in the hall and slipped out of Adrian’s room, closing the door firmly but oh so quietly behind her, closed her single eye (it had been open far too long, beginning to show too many signs of true wakefulness) and dropped back to her hands and knees crawling to her own door from memory.

  Lilith’s head thumped against her door, one of those cheap balsa wood deals or the thump would really have hurt, when the telltale sound of mugs clinking together in the kitchen alerted her that her parents, more likely her mother, was up and brewing that life sustaining black drink. (Wonder why she bothers it’ll end up being all Bailey’s any way) her head dropped a little further and she shook it from side to side as she crawled into the near absolute darkness of her room. The bed should be straight ahead a few more feet; she caught herself thinking and stopped her four-limbed movement settling on her heels, though she refused to open her eyes. (I can still go back to bed - no way I’m going down stairs to watch her drink ‘coffee’) she stood up and took a firm step toward were she knew the bed must be, then another and then she stubbed her toe on the bed post as she skirted the bed altogether heading, instead, for the bedside table and the reading lamp on it.

  She kept her eyes closed as she fumbled with the lamp, letting her eyes adjust to the suddenly bright light before opening both of them. She blinked, clearing the fuzz of sleep from her vision, rubbed at her right eye with the heel of her right hand (she can’t make me recite, it’s Saturday!) And pointed herself towards her closet to stash the old Tee she’d slept in, one of many she’d snatched from Adrian’s room, to find something which wouldn’t send her parents into a (hissy fit, call it what it is, a hissy fit) punishment spiral. She pulled the Tee off and replaced it with a green and black cutoff her parents where sure to recognize as her own, she frowned slightly wondering what they had against her brother as she headed towards the door.

  No answers came as she passed from her room to the hall, or during the short trek to the kitchen, then thoughts of her brother were temporarily pushed from her mind when she reached the kitchen and saw her mother. Maria Tate sat under the (oh god, my eyes) bright florescent overhead lights, her back towards the door, sipping her (you know that ain’t coffee) coffee and staring, with an intensity Lilith was growing familiar with, out the window.

  She’s waiting for the mailman again, Lilith bit off a sigh with a ferocity that rivaled her mother’s fanatical vigil. Her left hand curled into a first then curled further until she felt the bracing bite of her nails into her palms. Of all the things about Adrian’s sudden departure from the family, absence of any correspondence definitely upset her parents the most. She clenched her fist tighter as she suppressed the urge to run into the room and scream in her mother’s face, “your only son runs away from home and the only thing about his leaving that bothers you is, he never writes? What – is – wrong - with - you!”

  Lilith snapped her hand open and held it up to the light from the kitchen, watching the indents she’d made flush red with returning blood before stalking fully into the room. The old kitchen chair made a pooting sound as she landed without ceremony. Sitting directly in front of the matriarch, blocking her view of the mailbox, Lilith focused one of her best killing glares on her mother; who, unperturbed by her daughter’s abrupt appearance, simply refocused her gaze downward. Besides the expected coffee mug and bottle of Bailey’s Irish Cream, an old photo album also graced the table, holding pride of place dead center before her mother.

  “Morning dear. Do be a love and pass Mommy the coffee pot.” Lilith ignored her mother’s request, focusing instead on the photo album before the older woman (that thing seems about ready to fall apart) made of black leather which had been neglected so long its surface was cracked in places, some of the outer layer of color had long since flaked away and the rest seemed intent on covering the table. What she could see of the pictures from her distant seat was only a jumble of color and black and white photos some so old they had taken on the brownish color black and whites take over time. “What’s that?” She leaned a little forward in her seat for a closer look…

  “Coffee pot, please. Or would you like to recite for me? We have some time before the mail comes, no reason not to start your lessons…” Maria slammed the album shut, with as little regard for its age as she’d shown for her daughter’s sudden appearance, large amounts of dust and flecks of leather flew up to settle on the table and her hands.

  Lilith rose stiff backed (…mruther frucker…) and went to the counter making sure to take her lazy time, pouring herself a mug first, adding sugar and cream till it was candy sweet; tasting repeatedly and carefully, blowing on a spoonful and sipping delicately (see how she likes waiting) though she knew quiet well how to make her coffee, before turning and bringing the pot back to the table with her. She frowned to see her mother’s eyes locked on the window again and slammed the pot down before landing in her seat accompanied by the chairs anguished pooting.

  Maria starred through her a moment, then blinked red eyes (god Mom, did you sleep at all or just sit up drinking all night - again) and focused on the pot with some effort. Her hands shook as she poured, nearly bad enough for Lilith to feel the need to help her, but not quite, not yet. She didn’t even fill the cup all the way before trading the coffee pot for the bottle of Bailey’s (god Mom you might pretend you’re not a drunk. I’m only fifteen, I deserve some illusions) and topping off her mug with it. She sipped the lukewarm mixture and began to open the photo album again, flipping randomly towards the back of the book.

  (Now she’ll ask me to recite names and addresses or if I read yesterdays letters. Or, heaven forbid, she’ll make me go over proper letter etiquette again, what is this woman’s obsession with the mail.) “You’ll be sixteen soon.” Her mother’s voice was quiet, oddly swollen, and Lilith began to really wonder what the album contained. “You’ll be sixteen, and your brother won’t be here to see it.” Maria drained the rest of the drink and mixed herself another one, with a steadier hand this time though Lilith didn’t notice - her mind on Adrian once again.

  He left about a year ago; he’d just turned eighteen, without a word or a note and no outward signs whatsoever. (Not true I knew, not why, but I knew he was going.) Everything going happy and good and then he packed his bags one ni
ght and was gone when their father went to wake him for school the next morning (he was still upset over something that happened a couple a years earlier, after he’d finished his ‘lessons’) Adrian left without a note and hadn’t sent so much as a post card since (Mom started watching the mailbox, though she didn’t start drinking right away) of all the things about a son’s disappearance that could upset his parents - only the lack of letters was upsetting hers.

  Her mother broke into her thoughts, “do you know why it’s so important for you to learn those
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