Here it is:
No editing. I’m too tired. Read at your own risk. Ha.
The Power of Knowledge
My parent’s house is chaos. That’s the nice way to put it. There are kids I haven’t seen in ages screeching through the halls, scaring my mother’s cat, Tiki until she hides away under the bed in my old room. I can hear her injured cries as I try to settle back on the twin bed, tucking my face into the soft pillow. Normally I’d be there with them, playing tag, hide ‘n seek, find the bogeyman. Right now, everything feels topsy-turvy and I am so willing to abandon myself to my old room, switch on the music of the Medieval Baebes and waft away into sanctuary.
Tiki murmurs and then settles herself against my chest as I lay on my side. She rubs her face against my chin, and I feel my fears ebb away. Sleep falls upon me and I feel my body drifting away into a sacred space, where the stars glisten, and I feel one with the universe.
“Soph? Sophie Anne?”
It’s the voice of an angel. I’m hugging Heath Lawrence and there’s an angel in the room and this is all so wrong.
“Sophie? Come on, wake up.”
My eyelids flip upward. Not a dream, although I can still feel Heath Lawrence close. Silly person.
Aunt Lea is stroking my head. “Are you feeling well enough for family dinner?” she asks.
I slowly sit up, still feeling dizzy, and in dreamland. “If I’m not do I get a pass.”
Lea’s smile is gentled, her eyes sweet. “No, dear. I could probably let you sleep for another 45 minutes but then your Mom would be up here dragging you downstairs. It’s up to you at this point.”
I rub my eyes and yawn. I liked the dream I was having. I liked being with Heath Lawrence. And that fact means that I am still too sleepy to be logical. Maybe I need a shower to revitalize me.
“Aunt Lea, have you ever been in love?”
She smiles at me, beatifically. My aunt is a saint. Seriously. She must be the nicest person who has ever walked this planet. She stands up and walks to the window, pushes aside the curtain and gazes outward. I wonder if she sees something I never have.
“Love’s different for all of us, kitten.”
“That’s not an answer.”
She shrugs. Her soft cotton crocheted sweater rises around her shoulders. “I had the misfortune of falling in love with someone who was already taken. I’ve never found anyone else.”
Her eyes glaze with tears but she smiles, and her shoulders lift into a shrug. “That’s life kiddo. The Rolling Stones had it right: you can’t always get want you want.”
The kids squeal downstairs. It feels so in opposition to this moment. I pull the cotton blanket up around my shoulders, feeling its comforting scratchiness. Aunt Lea sits next to me and I rest my head on her shoulder.
“I didn’t go after what I wanted. I didn’t know how. If I’d been your mother, he’d never known what I had hit him. But I am me.” Her words are sad, sorrowful and I feel my heart open.
“Is it too late?”
Her smile’s sad. “Does two decades count?”
My stomach falls. What does it feel like to lose y2our true love? I’m twenty-six and I don’t think I’ve ever met him. What if I had and I lost him? My heart breaks a little for Lea. She’s the most gentle person I’ve ever met. How could anyone leave her? Why would any man want to leave her.
She looks into my eyes, shrugs and then looks away.
“The man must be scum,” I say.
We hug each other. I don’t know how to let go. I feel her pain as if it were my own. She smells of rosemary and I wonder if she had anything to do with the sachet in my room.
She pushes me away gently and stares into my eyes. ..“Don’t let love go when you find it.”
I want to ask:., how do you know when you find it? How do you know if it’s real? How can you be sure you’re not chasing a blond tower down Main Street and it may be your oblivion? How does anyone really know these things.
Aunt Lea’s pats my shoulder. “Let’s get you dressed for family dinner. I think you need to wear black.”
A little black dress later and I’m still not ready for this.
It’s nearing 9 o’clock and the children have been sent to bed so it’s quieter than it’s been all day but the noise has been replaced with a tension that fills my body and feels stiff. My black suede flats echo softly on the maple hardwood as I advance toward the dining room. This is my family and yet I feel like I am walking toward some kind of judgment.
Isla is waiting for me outside of the family room. She’s nervously rubbing her right hand along her left arm, her smile is fractured.
Her lips smile crookedly at me. “I think it’s me.”
I frown at her. Her soft red curls drape around her face and her blue eyes are crystalline. If she wasn’t my little, most magnificent sister, I’d hate her. She’s gorgeous. Her flawless face is creamy.
“The meeting. I think it’s my fault. I think I’m the one who’s messed up your soups, Soph. I’m so sorry. I never meant to.”
I roll my eyes. “Of course, you are, Isla. Because you have so much power that you can curdle milk.”
The expression on her face is as if I slapped her. Should I backtrack? But, really, let’s be clear, what could she possibly have to do with my soups? She grows the vegetables that I use and that’s it. It’s not like she has any power over anything, right?
“You’re mean, Sophie.”
Now I feel as if I’ve been slapped. “Mean? Really? How?”
“You have powers and you ignore mine.”
I shake my head wondering if my concussion was far worse than presumed. Powers. Powers. What powers?
“What in the hell are you talking about? Have you gone daft?”
She moves closer and I can smell the scent of mint on her breath. “We all have powers.”
“Isla? What are you doing? Get in here now.”
I look at Mom. Her brown eyes are fiery. When she looks at me, she gulps. All of a sudden I feel otherworldly, in the way that I don’t understand what’s going on.
Isla follows Mom into the family room and I follow slowly, not at all sure that I want to know what’s going on.
Family and extended family are situated in the family room. A fire blazes in the fireplace. Soft discussion flows. Everyone seems content until I enter and then I feel the full force of their eyes upon me.
Mom waves her hands about and shakes her head with her eyes closed. “Enough already. You know why we’re here.”
A man I don’t know with a gray goatee, thick gray eyebrows, and searing blue eyes focuses on Mom. “The secrets you assured us were safe are about to be divulged.”
“Right, well, just go nuclear, Daniel. Nothing’s happened, despite your penchant for being over the top.”
The man’s face reddens. I expect him to grow a pair of horns and sear my mother. Instead, his thin lips collapse upon themselves, he clasps his hands together, and looks around like an innocent. Interesting. Go, Mom?
Mom stands there in her emerald green blouse and tight dark blue jeans and nods at everyone. “We’ve got ourselves a minor problem.”
She has the attention of everyone. Silence reigns. Mom looks out over the people gathered in the family room. Suddenly she looks down, mashes her lips together and shrugs.
The clock ticks loudly in the corner, every second stored away.
“The fact is we knew this was going to happen sometime.”
This? What? What was going to happen sometime? I’m lost.
Mom looks at Isla and me.
“My girl stopped drinking the tea.”
A gasp rises over the people standing in the room. Could their eyebrows be raised any higher?