Not What You Were Promised
Uncle Artie comes over to me after his speech. Shoos away everyone else and hunts me down. Tearfully he thanks me for spending time with Kaitlin. Says she hasn’t been speaking to anyone. Knowing now who she is it makes sense that a lot of people would have looked over to us this afternoon, checking up on the muted daughter of the dead woman. Would have seen us talking. It would have only been a couple of hours but I can see it means a lot to Artie. I shake his hand and tell him I’ll miss Aunt Edi and excuse myself.
Everyone seems stoked that I spent the afternoon with Kaitlin but I – being the ignorant idiot in all this – didn’t even know she was Edi’s teenage daughter. I hadn’t seen any of them since I’d gone to college and moved away for good. They probably wouldn’t think so much of me if they knew I’d just talked about Emily Bronte and life in the big city and my own boring childhood and other such meaningless crap. If they were hoping I got all philosophical up in her grill then they were mistaken.
I see her, over by Bobby of all people, through the double doors of the events room and standing in the lobby. I head over to them and Bobby catches my eye and waves as I approach and Kaitlin, looking instinctively where he is looking, sees me too and as she turns she actually smiles – openly (and unwittingly no doubt) – and in the instant I arrive I embrace her. She goes stiff in my arms.
“I’m so sorry,” I say next to her head. For once in my life, I mean it when I say it.
She wriggles out of my grasp, pushes me away, and when she emerges she’s looking at me angrily, the smile gone, replaced instead by a look I’ve seen on enough girls to know she is not happy. Without a word she turns and walks away.
“Kaitlin,” I call uselessly after her. She heads towards the stair and climbs them out of sight.
“You idiot,” Bobby says, punching me in the arm. I’d almost forgot he was there.
“What’d I do?” I ask genuinely, turning to him.
“She was just going on about how great you were, doofus, how you didn’t treat her like she was fragile. How you didn’t do the whole ‘I’m sorry’ bullshit. Smooth moves, by the way.”
“She was?” my heart sank.
“Yep. Blew that one bro.”
“Did you know she was Edi’s daughter?” I ask, disappointed in myself and trying to find a way to excuse it all.
“Dude, she’s our cousin, of course I did.”
* * *
I wake up to the red glare of the alarm clock. It’s one. I don’t exactly know why I woke up. Maybe Emma kicked me in her sleep. I roll over to face her and as I turn I realize I’m not at home. Emma is not here. By the time I’m facing Kaitlin I’m already freaked.
“What the hell,” I say, sitting bolt upright and she shouts and shoots up too, drawing the covers up around her defensively, “what the hell are you doing in my bed?!” I demand.
“Woah, easy,” she says, holding a hand up to me as if to soothe me. I realize she hasn’t been asleep. She must have woke me as she slid in.
“Are you okay?” I ask as I wake up and my senses return to me, “is everything okay?”
“Christian,” she says quietly, “everything’s fine.” She shuffles towards me, never breaking eye contact. She looks upset. I think. It’s hard to tell in the dark. I reach over for the bedside lamp and she stops me, her hand on mine. “Don’t,” she says simply.
“What’s going on?” I ask seriously, putting my spare hand on hers. Instead of replying she leans forwards and kisses me on the mouth, parting my lips with hers and-
“What the fuck,” I say suddenly, taking her shoulders and literally pushing her off me and her tongue out of my mouth.
“Bobby said-“ she starts, instantly upset. The change in her voice from what I can only assume was seductive is obvious.
“What?” I interrupt, “what could Bobby possibly have said to make you think this was okay?”
“He said your girlfriend’s dead,” she finishes, looking at me with tears in her eyes.
“She is-” I say without really thinking about it, “but-“ I blink, thinking how unbelievable it is to be having this conversation. I wonder briefly if I’m still asleep. “But we’re family, – you’re a minor, for chrissake – there’s so much wrong with this I don’t know where to start.”
“So why haven’t you kicked me out?” she pouts.
Oh God. Why haven’t I kicked her out?
“Look,” she continues quickly, sensing weakness and preying on it. Or is that giving her too much credit? “I’m hurting, you’re hurting, what’s the problem?”
Before I can respond she sends an exploratory hand beneath the covers and I buck at the touch and any concept of wholesome or innocent is gone, smashed to smithereens as she takes my penis in her hands.
“Touchdown,” say says, grinning up at me.
“No!” I say, snapping a bit too suddenly to my senses and pushing her away violently, “not touchdown, not okay, very much a problem.”
She steadies herself as she reels away from my shove and the covers slip from her and her bare breasts are revealed. She quickly rectifies this and shuffles to the very edge of the bed, somehow making me feel like the bad guy. She’s hurt and embarrassed. We sit in silence in the dark and I can’t be sure but I think she’s crying. “But you’re hard,” she whispers.
“My dick doesn’t have a moral code,” I say, guiltily averting the conversation, “but I do, Kaitlin.” We continue to sit there, her with the thin hotel sheets wrapped around her ridiculously thin frame, with a torrent of no doubt confusing emotions beneath the pale skin. God, however fucked up this situation is, however much this isn’t my fault, it doesn’t change the fact that I’m the responsible one here.
“Kaitlin,” I say, choosing my words very carefully. She doesn’t look at me. She stares instead at her fingers in her lap.
“I thought-“ she begins, but I cut her off.
“I know you’re hurting. I am too. Believe me. But this isn’t right. We’re blood.”
“I’ve done it before you know. I’m not a virgin.” she lies. It’s such a terrible lie.
“Okay,” I say, “but this,” I say, waving my hand at the messed up situation, “this isn’t right. This wont make it better.”
“So what?” she asks, angry like in the lobby now, “WHAT?”
“Shh,” I hiss, worried that someone will burst in and get the wrong – well – mostly the wrong idea.
“My mom is dead and I’m fourteen-” christ “-years old and I don’t know what the fuck to do and now you’re giving me shit about trying to take my mind off the fucking people saying sorry and the hugs and the bullshit about how okay it’s gonna be and the full-time attention so much so that I can’t even fucking think about trying to deal with this bullshit hand life’s dealt me.”
“It’s not fair,” I try, “it’s not okay. And it probably never will be. It’ll probably burn like hell forever, right here,” I tap my chest, “like something gnawing it’s way out, right? And the only thing that’s gonna change that is you learning to bury it deep enough so it doesn’t hurt so bad all the time.”
I stand up and grab some clothes from the open suitcase in the corner – a pair of pyjama pants I never wear and a shirt that’s gonna be ten times too big for this tiny girl and toss them on the bed. In complete silence she slips the shirt over her head and – under the covers – wriggles into the pyjamas. She stands up and leaves without saying a word. The door closes quietly behind her with a click and I’m left evaluating how the weirdest moment of my life just went. That’s coming from a guy with a zombie for a girlfriend.
I wait for a half an hour, sitting on the edge of my bed and staring at my bare feet, seeing if she’ll return, hoping to God she wont. She doesn’t. I consider calling Emma. I consider going out and buying way legal porn. I consider just going to bed and pretending this never happened. I settle on the latter.
As I lay there, waiting for sleep to take me but doubting it ever will, I smile. It takes a lot to make the relationship I have with Emma seem normal. To be able to square it away. I’m closer now than I’ve ever been. I send her a text and receive a response almost immediately, like she was waiting for it.
I love you too x x
This is the end of Love the Dead, or at least a close to it’s time here at Blame Per Diem. I’d like to hope I’ll work on everything, all my minis, at some point in the future. Love the Dead was my first mini, written on the second day of my year long writathon. It’s nice to give it some sort of conclusion, especially one as dangerous and taboo as its opening. Peace out.