I pulled up in front of mom's house and turned off the car. And then I sat there thinking... she'd been gone almost a month. We were all orphans. My throat felt tight and I got that weird twisting ache behind my eyes and nose, the feeling right before tears come. Maybe because we were planning to move a lot of stuff to
's church basement, and there was something painfully final about that. Maybe it was because Sundays without mom already felt normal, as ugly as that sounded. Silas came out of his deep dark closet, Jeremy joined the family, Elizabeth registered for school, Melanie still struggling with her wayward self. And I was doing, well... not a lot, as usual. Elizabeth
Write something normal, that was my mother's last request. Your writing is beautiful, and you're wasting it on vampire trash. Write something that makes a statement, that makes people stop and grab a pen to underline the words, and say 'Hey, I feel that way, too.' Write something that makes people feel less alone. You can do it, Jessie Mine, I know you can.
I wanted to. Lord knows I wanted to. But my inspiration was always a little off the beaten track.
Sundays, I realized. I could write about Orphan Sundays, and how all the dynamics are changing, now that we are parent-less.
I could. I might.
But would it be fair to share my siblings' secrets?
Jessamine. My mother named me. I knew the story from way back, that my mother got pregnant with me not long after Melanie was born, and she was happier about it than my father was. That my father threw all his psychic energy into hoping for another boy, but that mom secretly wished for just one more girl. She liked her girls, liked sewing dresses for girls, liked pink and yellow and soft pastels. Didn't care a whole lot for baseball or hockey. She always said a house full of girls was a house full of joyous shrieks and happy laughter, love songs hummed while dreamy hearts danced, and eyes that twinkled with romantic ideals.
And there I was, a girl.
They'd decided on names well before I was born, of course. Joseph Jr. for a boy – poor Silas wouldn't get the Jr. spot – and Jessica Lynn for a girl.
They brought the birth certificate papers while dad was out in the lobby calling around to let everybody know he was a father (again) to a new baby girl (again), and my mother had been holding me in her arms for an hour, staring at me, unwrapping me and counting fingers and toes, and singing, "Good morning my Jessie, good morning Jessie mine." And so that's what she wrote in for my name. Jessamine. Actually, she wrote in for my father, too. Jessamine Joseph. And if it was weird having a boys' name for my middle name, ah well, there probably wasn't another Jessamine Joseph in all the world, and I kind of liked it that way.
She always said, "Oh, your daddy loves you, have no doubt about that, but you were always my baby first, and that's how I named you."
And so I was thinking, Who's baby am I, now that my mother is gone?
Silas came out of the house, sat down on the front steps, and lit a cigarette.
Theirs. I answered my own question.
We all belonged to each other, and that's why it was important to keep the sacred Sundays.
He was staring at me, so I got out of the car and joined him on the steps.
"What are you doing, Jessie?" he asked.
"Just thinking about mom. Feeling sad."
"Ah," he said. "I try to never do that."
"Think about mom?" I asked.
"No, feel sad."
He shrugged. "I'm sorry you feel sad."
The door creaked open behind us. I looked over my shoulder and saw some guy I'd never seen before.
"Hey, is this where the party is?"
Silas rolled his eyes at me and said, "If you're looking for a party, you're at the wrong house."
The guy laughed, way too loud. It made me flinch and feel annoyed. "And you are...?" I asked.
"Travis," he said. "I'm with Melanie."
As if I couldn't have guessed that much. I thought it was sibling only day. Talk about Jeremy day.
"Aren't we supposed to rip Jeremy to shreds today?" I asked Silas.
"No matter," he said lightly. "I sent him home."
"What do you mean, sent him home?"
"I mean I told him there was no way in hell he was moving into my place, and sent him home to his mommy and daddy."
"Nice." I was disappointed. I liked Jeremy. I kind of hoped he'd be around. A lot. I told Silas as much.
"Too young for me, c'mon, you had to have noticed."
"He's good for you. That's what I noticed."
"Germy who?" Travis asked, and I realized he was half in the bag. At noon on Sunday. Oh joy. It was going to be a fun day.
"Never mind," I answered. "Is
here yet? We have a lot of stuff to haul today." Elizabeth
"Stuff to haul?" Travis asked. "I thought we were going to party."
I was sick of him already.
"Party somewhere else," I said, in a crabby tone that hardly ever comes out of my mouth. "We have work to do."
"No, no, isss alright. I'm'a gonna help. No prob. Just call me Travis the helper."
I shuddered. "Let's start moving boxes," I said to Silas, and we both stood, walked around Travis, and went into the house. Thankfully he didn't follow.