The call of the lost Jay
Part 2 - Sister
Part 2 - Sister
When Ma left, there was a hole left and nothing could fill it. For hours I would sit in my secret place, her office, her one place of solitude. It was a tiny room adjoining her and Pa’s bedroom; not that Ma ever slept there, she had slept in the spare room since I was born. Ma’s office had a desk, a bookshelf full of classic novels and a comfy chair in the corner; the only piece of furniture that had been worth scavenging from the barn of Jay heirlooms. I began to read her books and at night would fall asleep in the chair having cried myself into a stupor, smelling the faint scent of her perfume upon the chair. Lisette, well, she dealt with it the way that she could. With no female figure to guide her, she rapidly became more aware of what mood our Pa and tried to shield me from him. However as only a child, she couldn’t always do it, and with myself taking Ma’s old space, the hay loft soon became her space. And one night she came down a young woman. Scared and frightened, she’d transformed into a woman, her clothes distorted and stretched. She stood in front of the wardrobe for hours that night, hiding from Pa. Eventually she opened it and finding nothing of use, she flung herself upon the bed, cursing our Ma for leaving us. Pa. Well. He did what Pa did best and most nights he was found passed out on top of the sheets. Now that Lisette was old enough to cook and clean she became entrapped like Ma and stopped going to school. The farm began to suffer as Pa couldn’t cope. He was getting older and handling the farm was difficult since I hadn’t come of age. Lisette began caring for the horses, brushing them, cleaning their hooves, filling up the watering trough and scattering hay. Since Pa refused to let her learn how to drive the truck (it wasn’t lady like; he’d always been disgusted that Ma could drive) and so her trips into town to pick up the meat from the butchers and other supplies took all day. But she didn’t waste her time whilst there. She always got the meat last as the butcher left our cheap cuts until the end of the day and spent the time waiting in the library. She learnt about music, art, vegetation, foreign wars in those hours spent in the musty and dark library. But most importantly of all she learnt about anatomy. Lisette had always dreamed of being a Nurse and she drank up every book about medicine that she could get her hands on. Lisette was lonely. She rarely had time to herself as she acted like a mother to me and stopped my father from falling completely apart. What little time she did have was spent at the piano, as father wouldn’t allow her to read his books; they were not meant for ladies. I didn’t appreciate at the time what Lisette did for me after Ma left. She sent me to school every day, packed me onto the old school bus and sent me rattling away to a small space of solitude, a pretend world from our home life. Not that as a ten year old boy I’d ever understand that. One evening, I’d had enough of constantly being sent to school and to my room at the weekends. When Ma had lived with us I’d had free rein after my chores; now that Lisette was in control I had nothing. Angry, I found her spreading hay in the paddock. “Pa’s gonna kill you if he sees you dressed like that”.
“Well maybe if Pa cared for us then I wouldn’t have to dress in my old clothes would I now Gray?” She snapped back, a muscle jumping in her jaw.
I was stung by the bite in her voice.
“Pa cares for us more than you care for me! Pa doesn’t care if I go to school or not, Pa lets me do what I want and you, you, stifle me! I wish you’d left and Ma had stayed!” I shouted.
She stopped scattering the hay then. She was shaking. She threw the pitch fork away and turned towards me and leaned in close.
“Listen to me Gray and listen close. Life is not the same anymore. Ma is gone. For good. She doesn’t care and nor does Pa. I’m the only one who does. I do all of this...” She gestured to the pasture and the house, “For you. So cut the rubbish Gray. I send you away each morning to give you the future I cannot have!”
“You only have me now Gray.”
I began to cry and even though she was mad at me she gathered me up into her arms and held me whilst I sobbed.
When I was done, she left, hearing Pa call for his dinner.
Home wasn’t the same any more. Pa soon found out that I’d been hiding in Ma’s old study and he wasn’t too happy about it. I soon began hiding in Roy’s old room; when him and Ma had left, he’d left all his old notebooks behind and I was “borrowing” them until they came to get me. I wrote stories of mothers who fled into the night; I still cried in my sleep at the memory of that night. One night; I was working in the dining room when I heard the creak of the top stair. My father; who for once was alert, put down his paper and rose from his seat at the dining table. He trod heavily into the floor and walked into the hallway.
“Where do you think you’re going dressed like that?” He asked. It was strange to hear my father speak calmly, but there was a cold, sharp edge to it.
“Out Pa. To see my old friends. It’s Lucy-Anne’s Birthday today, and I’m going to her party.”
“No you’re not.”
“No. I don’t want you going there. It wouldn’t be proper. Who would pick you up?”
“Lucy-Anne’s Pa said he’d bring me home.”
“And you think it’s a good idea, for you to go dressed out as a floozy? Like your Ma would have done? Think of Gray; you dressing like that around him, it will make him think that all proper ladies should wear skirts above the knee!”
My sister recoiled; shocked that Pa was so behind on his views.
However she soon recovered.
“Pa, the year is 1951; women aren’t domestic slaves anymore. We can have careers; be educated. I want that! I don’t want some dead end constricting life like Ma had!”
My father balled his fists.
“You will never see those people again; they are polluting your mind with rubbish! Now get to your room!”
Lisette was angry; but scared of Pa. She ran to the top of the stairs; vowing to never let him take her freedom again. She put an ad in the paper like Ma did but advertised for a Farmhand rather than a lodger. Old George was the only one who responded and despite his age he was perfect. He was quiet and liked to keep to himself, however he knew plants like he was one of them and would help us around the house whenever we needed it; plus as an older male, Pa respected him and kept his drinking to a minimum. Old George moved into the spare room in the house; the barn was now leaking and there was not enough money to feed us and repair the roof. George hasn’t been with us for long when I awoke late into the night one balmy evening. I began shaking uncontrollably and screamed in shocked. Lisette, who slept across the hall, came running into my room and gasped when she saw me shaking.
“Lisette! What’s happening?!” I cried.
“Breathe Grey, your transitioning.” She suddenly looked sad; the realisation that she could no longer protect me from Pa dawning on her.
“I’m not ready though!” I said, panic seeping into my voice.
But the transition wouldn’t wait, and I found myself spinning in a cloud of colours. My hair lengthened, my body elongated and muscles padded out. I touched my new body all over; my pyjamas shrunk and strained.
I turned and saw Lisette had moved onto the bed; her eyes distant and foggy.
I sunk onto the bed next to her.
“I can’t protect you from him Gray. I’ve tried. But I don’t have long left here. I thought you’d transition when I left; that’s why I let Old George stay here.” She sighed heavily.
“Where are you going?” I asked sharply. The image of Ma in her riding jacked flashed through my mind.
“I was excepted into the medical school in Bridgeport for a Nursing course. I leave at the end of July.”
July. That was only a month away!
“Why didn’t you tell me?!”
“Because you were too young; you would have told Pa by accident!”
I growled low in my throat.
“Don’t be mad Gray.”
“I’m happy for you. But I wish you didn’t have to run like Ma did.”
“I know Gray.”
We sat in silence for a while, each lost in our own thoughts.
“I guess I’d better teach you how to cook then?” Lisette grinned.
Life spun ahead and precious time trickled away. Since Pa refused to teach me how to drive, I bribed Old George to teach me in the old wagon. And by then it was the end of July. Lisette’s bags were packed and hidden in her closet. At four thirty am sharp she knocked on my door and hauled me out of bed. I pulled on my trousers and shirt and we jumped out of my window into the shrubbery below; it was dangerous but not as dangerous as Pa waking up. The wagon was too loud, so I stole the keys out of Ma’s study to the car under the cottonwood tree in the yard. It started quietly and we sped away. We drove in silence as the sun rose over the town. At five thirty the town was silent and nobody was around for the six o’clock bus. “So this is it huh? You’re just up and leaving me.” I said, kicking the dust.
“I ain’t Ma though, am I Gray?”
“You are doing a good enough impression.”
Lisette glared at me.
“Least I’ll write and let you know what’s going on in my life.”
I was silent.
“Please Gray; don’t be mad, I’m doing this for the both of us.”
“Take me with you; please Lisette.”
“No Gray. You can join me when you’re done with school, until then you have to stay put!”
Her face was set and I knew there was no point in souring our last moments together.
The bus drew up to the sidewalk and she flung her arms around me.
“I love you Gray, don’t you go forgetting that.”
I loaded her bags into the overhead locker and asked the driver to keep an eye on her and make sure she was safe to Bridgeport city.
I stood back as the doors closed. The dust from the wheels blew up into my face. The early morning sun beat down and I was all alone. For three years I continued away at my education, thinking of Lisette every single moment I had a book or a test placed in front of me. As good as her word, she wrote to me every week, a ten simoleon bill attached. I sent back news of Pas rage, Old Georges quiet protection and my own teenage angst’s; why wouldn’t Bernadette Alan in my History class go out to the theatre with me?! But I wasn’t an angel in the slightest. My name was renowned around the town as the kid with no Ma to guide him and a good for nothing rich Daddy; that meant that people automatically assumed I was a spoilt good for nothing kid; and I didn’t exactly stop that reputation from building. I spent my time at home caring for the horses and writing my own stories; I’d joined the school paper much to everybody’s shock and my articles were often on the front page.
But Pa wasn’t proud of me in the slightest, and when the drinking got heavier after Lisette left, I was hollered at more often the children in the school yard.
On the eve of my 18th Birthday I’d finally had enough. I’d gone through education and got a good for nothing diploma at the end of it, just as Lisette had wanted. The collection of ten simoleon bills weighed down my pockets and I snuck from the house, thinking my Pa wouldn’t be home for hours.
He caught me sneaking out.
“Grayson, where do you think you’re going? Get yourself in the house RIGHT NOW BOY!”
I could smell the nectar upon his breath and backed away quickly.
I didn’t move.
“FOR GAWDS SAKE GRAY GET IN THE HOUSE!”
I still didn’t move. “What are you doing then boy? Running away like your good for nothing sister and stupid mother? Running didn’t do your Ma any good now, did it?” He laughed a horrid laugh and I felt sick to my stomach.
“What did you do to her?!” I screamed.
“Made sure that her and Roy could never get to you and Lisette, that’s what I did. Made sure she couldn’t ever get her hands on you. Roy hasn’t worked since and everybody knows that she is an unfit mother.”
“SHE WAS BETTER THAN YOU!”
“Don’t you say that now Gray!”
“You stifled Lisette! She had to leave the state to get away from you! You’re the unfit parent, you fool! We hate you, Ma and Roy are our true parents, not you.”
He roared angrily.
And suddenly his hand struck my face and the world spun. I lurched and shouted in shock. I pushed him away and he fell back heavily. The world regained its balance and I ran across the yard to the car. I jumped in and revved the engine, gravel and dust flying everywhere. I didn’t look back as I raced away. I drove to the edge of town and found the signpost I was looking for; 100 miles to Bridgeport City.
The call of the lost Jay - Sister
Jun 4, 2012 by Milii454
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