anemoia (#words)

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WtW's resident "the cool cousin you see once a year, but the conversation you guys were having a long time ago picks up where it left off without missing a beat" (says rosi willard)

Child of God
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volleyballer

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See footnotes, I guess? :)

You Have One Minute to Explain What You're Doing Here (version 2)

October 16, 2020

FREE WRITING

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    "You have one minute to explain what you're doing here, then I'm kicking you off my property," growls a tall, solid man as he stalks toward Ivan. He stops a few feet away next to his rusting 1987 Chevrolet. A grin slides across Ivan's face. 
    "Mikey, Mikey. Still hung up on the past?" Ivan can't help but tease him. Mikey glares and adjusts his Crimson Tide ball cap.
    "Call me that again and you'll get a boot in your soft spot. Thirty seconds," he says, folding his arms across a dusty t-shirt. He leans against his pickup. Any other man would be intimidated by Mikey's stature and attitude. But Ivan is not so easily cowed.
    "Your ex-girlfriend sends her regards. And she made you these scones," he says cheerfully, as if Mikey hadn't threatened him just a few seconds before.
    Hesitantly, Mikey steps away from the pickup truck. He peers at the container and mason jar in Ivan's hands. "Apple, with a jar of salted caramel sauce to go with it?" 
    "You know it."
    Curiosity wins Mikey over. Although reluctance is etched in his scowl, he sighs and says, "That gets you in the door. Come on. And don't touch my scones." Ivan follows him into the house, the porch creaking under the weight of both men. Mikey is tempted to let the screen door slam in Ivan's face, but that's a little too uncouth even for him. He settles for a barbed question instead. "So, why have you been in contact with Laney?"
    "She's my friend," Ivan says, pulling up a hickory bar stool at the kitchen counter and looking all too at home for Mikey's liking. Ivan sets down the scones and caramel sauce in front of him. He surveys his brother's house, then nods in approval. 
    "Friend. Right. If she's just your friend, then I'm your real brother," spits Mikey. He situates himself on the opposite side of the counter from Ivan and pulls the scones out of his reach. His blood boils at Ivan's calm expression. 
    "Are you still not over that?" Ivan shakes his head in the manner of a schoolteacher chastising a young student who hasn't grasped a concept yet. He doesn't want to delve into this argument again. "And watch what you imply," he adds, his tone darkening.
    "I'll never be 'over that,' and I can imply anything I want," Mikey shoots back, his tone matching Ivan's. His hands are turning to fists under the counter. Ivan drops his eyes. He feels a fight coming on, and it's unavoidable with Mikey.
    Dust motes swirl over dark granite counter tops, caught in the afternoon sunlight. What Ivan would give to be one of those dust motes right now. Anything but here, sitting across from an enraged younger brother who wants to rehash every scandal and heartache.
    "​I didn't choose to lie to you. Blame Ma," Ivan finally says. If it were another time and place and situation, Mikey might have noticed the suppressed sigh, the weary resignation, and the overall done-ness Ivan is feeling about this argument. But he's too caught up in his own anger. Ivan and their mother let him believe a lie.
    "You still went along with it! Hiding the fact that my birth certificate reads 'Michael James McGregor.' When all my life, I thought it would be 'Michael James Bingley.' Like Ma and Pa. Like you." Mikey needs to get it out. Even though he's said those words a hundred times before, he feels the same urgency now to shout them at Ivan.
    "What would you have done if Ma asked you to keep that kind of secret?" Ivan demands. "It's not like there's a right time to tell your little brother, 'Hey, you're actually my half brother. Ma had an affair right before Pa died.'" Ivan is almost shouting too, halfway to his feet. His temper may not be as quick as his brother's, but it exists.
    "You could have tried," Mikey says, dark eyes flashing. He wants to hurl something at Ivan's head. Something heavy and breakable, preferably.
    "I did. You just don't remember," Ivan retorts. He can't believe that Mikey is bringing this up again. He came to make amends. He even came with scones and caramel sauce. Frustration grips him as Mikey continues to glare.
    "Ivan, why are you still here?" Ivan is surprised at the sudden shift in Mikey's demeanor. He sounds worn-out now, more resigned.
    "Because scones and salted caramel," Ivan offers. He has no other good reason.
    "Good point," Mikey concedes. He removes the lid from the container and lifts out a scone, holding it with reverence. He decides not to offer one to Ivan as he takes a bite. "Mm, she sure knows how to bake. What else does she know, brother?" Ivan can't believe what he's implying. He decides to ignore the hidden accusation.
    "Look, I'm sorry I had to lie to you—" he tries.
    "Oh? Tell me, did Laney promise you her eternal devotion yet?" Bitterness seeps into Mikey's voice. Bitterness with a hint of amusement that says he finds nothing funny at all.
    "No, you idiot," Ivan says, trying to keep his patience. "About the brother thing. I really am sorry. But we had that fight almost five years ago and five hundred times since. We've been adults long enough. Don't you think it's time to act like it and move on?" Ivan thinks he has offered the deal of a lifetime. Forget about the past, move on, and reconcile. But Mikey isn't going to take the deal.
    "It depends on whether you're shacking up with my ex," Mikey says, narrowing his eyes. He breaks off a crumbly piece of scone. Even if she broke up with him almost four months ago, the idea of Laney with anyone else tears him apart. Especially his own brother. He doesn't want to imagine Laney and Ivan together, her curly hair wild in the wind as they cruise down the highway, Ivan laughing and leaning over to—
    "Dragging out drama!" Ivan throws up his hands. "Michael J. Bingley, I swear that's all you want to do whenever we see each other. But for what's it's worth, Laney and I are just. Friends."
    He doesn't realize his mistake until Mikey, hoarse and shocked, ventures, "Bingley?" 
    "I didn't—I mean—" 
    "Am I part of the family, finally?" Mikey asks in the same hoarse voice, as if he hardly dares to believe his own words.
    Ivan finds his words at the right moment. A smile begins to grow. "You always were."
    "Really?" The doubt in Mikey's question pains Ivan more than any insult. 
    "C'mon. Up until you found out, you had seventeen blissful years and never doubted that," he says. 
    "Nearly an entire childhood, I guess," Mikey admits. Family. He's really one of them, to his brother. A hint of warmth tingles in his gut. Light filters in through the window and warms his face. A sudden sense of belonging hits him.
    "See? Having a different set of Y chromosomes doesn't change a thing. Our biological relationship has nothing to do with being family."
    "There you go, being all science-y. I always thought that was cool, you know. Having an older brother who was gonna be the next Albert Einstein. Even if I didn't understand half of what you talked about." 
    "You thought that? Me?" Of course Mikey would have looked up to him, but Ivan has never thought he was much to look up to. 
    "Of course. I mean, you brought home discarded honors textbooks for fun!" Mikey smiles a little, and Ivan can't help but return the smile. "Meanwhile, I was fumbling with a football," he says, shaking his head. 
    "Fumbling pretty good, too. The best tight end in the county, they said," Ivan reminds him. His eyes focus on a picture from the past. "But at least I played baseball, kept me from being a complete nerd. And honestly, I wanted to be more like you."
    "Me? The goof-off, the troublemaker, the jock, the charming, handsome idiot?" Then Mikey laughs. "Okay, I see why you'd want to be me. Heck, even I would want to be me in high school." Ivan rolls his eyes, but anything is better than fighting. He hasn't felt this comfortable around his brother in five years, since Mikey discovered that they were half-brothers.
    "Exactly. I was more on the path to becoming the next Gregor Mendel with a baseball hobby and a decent haircut," he jokes.
    "Who's that?" The best part is, Mikey sounds genuinely curious. Ivan shrugs.
    "Just a genetics scientist that I admired a lot. I wanted to be more like him than Einstein. The advances he made... oh, man." Ivan has to stop himself from launching into a spiel on genetics and chromosomes and DNA and cell cycles and pea plants and Punnett squares. That would probably kill whatever fragile bond they're forming.
    "You never told me," Mikey says softly.
    "You never asked."
    "Well... maybe it's time—"
    "That we start asking."
    "Why don't we start now?" Mikey suggests. Hope bursts in Ivan's chest. After a rocky start, they might be on their way to building something good. Something new. Something honest.
    "That's the best idea you've had since the treehouse," Ivan remarks. A torrent of memories floods his mind. Pirates and swashbucklers, swords and toy guns, mud-covered adventures, tattered tents and crusty blankets.
    "Ah, that treehouse," Mikey murmurs, and Ivan can tell he's just as lost in the past as Ivan was a moment ago. "Those are memories I'll be telling my grandchildren about when they ask about the 'good ol' days.'"
    "We really did have a good life, growing up. Still do," Ivan says.
    "You bet we did. Just took a while for me to see past seventeen," Mikey admits. His next gesture seals the fractures of the bond between them; Mikey slides the container of scones toward his brother. "Here, have a scone," he says with a wink. "I'll warm up the caramel sauce." Mikey feels the tension dissolve between them—not completely, but enough for them to enjoy this afternoon. To get to know each other again.
    "Any coffee left?"
    "Nah, but you can brew a few cups. The filters are in the cabinet above the coffee pot, bottom shelf. Don't use the coffee in the clear container unless you wanna be bouncing off the walls."
    "Thanks, Mikey."
I said I would release this story with a little more detail. :) It's omniscient POV and present tense. A different style than U usually write (I prefer third person limited, past tense) but it was fun. It seemed to fit better like this. Anyway, this is the same dialogue, word for word, from the prompt "All Talk." I also have that version published here:
You have one minute to explain what you're doing here.
Comment below with any thoughts, impressions, feedback, random fandom posts (hey that rhymes!) or cool stuff. Anyone wanna talk about the Tower of Nero? (Please, I just finished it and am in dire need of discussion. Malcolm Pace, son of Athena—yes, please.)
Need book recs or fandom appreciation? I got you.

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  • October 16, 2020 - 9:11am (Now Viewing)

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2 Comments
  • queenie

    re: yeah, i just got burnt out. i might re-new them in the fantasy piece i just posted.


    7 months ago
  • queenie

    re: uhhhh..so here's the thing..i..sort of lost interest in continuing 'bloom'..er...i'll probably explain it in a post.


    7 months ago