“Sissy?!” I looked at the woman in front of me with my eyes wide. After all of these years. There she was.
“Hey, Sabrina. Long time no see, am I right?” She laughed and I stood up. Walking around the counter, I adjusted my mask before giving her a long hug.
“How are you here? You’ve been gone for so long!” I released her and looked at her, up and down.
“I know, I know. I didn’t want to be. But work kept me in California. I would’ve come back sooner, but I couldn’t catch a break. I’m so sorry.” Aleea wrapped me in another hug and I sighed. I let go of her and smiled.
“I’ll take a half-day here. I think we have a lot of catching up to do. Just give me a second.” I went back around to the worker side of the counter and put the phone up to my ear. I dialed my boss’s number and held up a finger to Aleea while it rang.
“Hello, Sabrina. What do you need?”
“Is it alright if I take a half-day? I just found out a… friend of mine is here from out of town.” I crossed my fingers as I waited for him to respond.
“Yeah, sure. Just make sure that you punch out for half-day.”
“I will. Thank you!” I hung up the phone and smiled at Aleea.
“Jex is just hanging out at home. He’ll be so excited to see you. If he even remembers, the last time you saw him was when he was little.” Aleea immediately looked guilty, and so did I.
“Sorry, I didn’t mean to make you feel bad. I was just saying, ‘cause...Well! We should get going now, shouldn’t we?” I smiled at Aleea again and she laughed.
“You’re just as fast-paced now than when I left; maybe more!” Allea put her arm around my shoulder and started walking towards the door. I grabbed her arm and took it off of me.
“I gotta go back to the break room and punch out first. Then we can go.” Aleea nodded, so I went back behind the reception desk and through the door. No one was in the break room, so I was able to punch out for a half-day, grab my stuff, and go right back out. “Alrighty. Got everything?” I stuffed my phone in my purse before looking back up at Aleea and nodding. We walked out to my car and got in; Aleea in the passenger seat, I was driving.
For about five minutes, we just small-talked, caught up a little. After around the five-minute mark, there was an uneasy silence, and all of the unspoken words were silently passed to one another. I guess we still had that telepathy thing.
Why’d you leave?
I couldn’t handle seeing all of the faces in our town that destroyed our family. You were just stronger than me. You were able to stay.
No. Not necessarily. I moved to West Virginia for a year and then came back after I was feeling better about it.
Oh. I never knew that. But I guess that’s my fault since I left.
Stop it! That’s just the way that you dealt with it. Even though in my opinion it was the wrong thing to do.
Are you seriously going to bring that up?
I had to try. You know, I’m still your twin and I have the right to still be upset.
“I’m sorry.” We were at a red light, so I looked over at her, and she looked at me.
“I never should have left. I know that people missed me, but I couldn’t see some of the other people. They were the reason that Mom and Dad left us with Nanny Loa.” I looked away and got the car going again, going past the intersection then into my driveway.
“That’s in the past. What matters is that you’re back now.” Aleea reached over and hugged me before we got out of the car.
“Aunt Aleea!” Jex jumped up from his position on the couch and threw his headphones and phone down.
“I can’t believe you’re here!” I smiled as he ran over to us and wrapped Aleea in a big hug.
“Hey, Jumpin’ Jex!” Laughing at the old nickname of Jex’s, I went over to the dining room table and sat my things down. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Aleea putting her arm around Jex’s shoulders as they walked into the living room. I listened to Aleea talk to Jex about how tall he was at the same time that I walked over to the pantry.
“What do you guys want for lunch?” I went back over to the living room archway and looked at them. The pair didn’t hear me.
“What do you want for lunch?” Jex looked up at me at the same time that Aleea did.
“I ate on my way to your work from the airport.”
“I just had a peanut butter and jelly sandwich before you guys got here.” Jex shrugged and I shook my head.
“I guess I’ll just eat all of the pot pie myself then. I just made them last night, so I just have to warm them up, but I guess I’ll just warm up one for myself.” I fake sighed and Aleea and Jex both immediately got up.
“Woah, Woah, Woah. You made your famous pot pie and you thought you weren’t gonna share?” Aleea crossed her arms and I hid my laugh.
“Mom! You didn’t tell me you made some!” Jex threw his hands up in the air and we all started laughing.
“Come on. But you’re warming up your own.” I raised my eyebrows and pointed at them which resulted in more laughter.
“I still think you shouldn’t have left.” Aleea and I were sitting at the dining room table. I had just checked on Jex, and he was fast asleep after an afternoon of soccer and board game-playing with Aunt Aleea. We knew that if we wanted to talk about it, this was the time.
“I told you. I couldn’t stand seeing everyone.” Aleea took a sip of her hot cocoa and I sighed.
“Well, you could’ve done what I did and leave for a year or two and come back. You didn’t have to leave for twelve years.” I could tell that Aleea was getting just slightly agitated, but I needed to talk to her about what I was feeling.
“Well, you could’ve called once in a while.” Aleea’s voice was starting to raise, as was mine.
“I tried! You changed your number and there was no way for me to find out what it was. You could’ve called from your new number so I had it!” I was angry now, but I didn’t care. Aleea was, too, anyway.
“You could’ve flown out and seen me at least once!” Shaking my head, I got up and practically threw my hot chocolate mug in the sink. It made a loud clang! noise and I flinched. Now my hands were shaking, and my head was pounding.
“You could’ve come back here, too! Nanny Loa passed away three years after you left, and you didn’t come back for her funeral! There wasn’t a card or anything! And I know that the funeral home contacted you. I’m not sure how, but I know they did.” Beads of sweat formed on my forehead and I could feel my face turn red.
“I tried to get away from work! But they wouldn’t let me take a week off! I tried! I did, Sabrina!” Aleea got up and I stepped to the side as she threw her mug in the sink. The glass shattered and tears started rolling down my face.
“No! Work is always your excuse! Always! Why don’t you just admit that you just didn’t want to come back at all? You wanted to stay in your paradise life in California! Admit it!” I suddenly noticed a pair of eyes watching us. I looked towards the hallway, and Jex was there. He was shaking and tears rolled down his face. Aleea was about to say something to him, but he ran back down the hall and we heard his bedroom door slam.
“Way to go, Aleea. We made Jex cry.” I ran down the hall after him, my anger slightly fading, replaced by worry for Jex. The second I opened the door, my heart sank. Jex was curled up in a ball with his face buried in his knees. His quiet sobs broke my heart.
“Jex? Are you okay?” I walked over to his bed and sat down next to him, one of my legs hanging down, the other tucked under me.
“No! I’m not! How could I be? You were just screaming at Aunt Aleea!” When I attempted to wrap him in a hug, Jex immediately pushed me away.
“Stop! Just stop it! Aunt Aleea came here to try to make things better and you can’t realize that! All you want to do is talk about the past that doesn’t matter! Well, not talk! Scream! You want to scream about the past!” Jex jumped up from his bed and wiped tears from his eyes, but more still came.
“Now she’ll probably leave because of you! Just think about it! Think about what you just did!” Jex sprinted out of the room and I heard him open the sliding glass door and slam it close. I sighed and more tears rolled down my face. And right at that moment, Aleea walked in.
“I’m going to stay tonight, and then I’m going to stay at my friend’s house for the rest of the week. I’ll be leaving for California on Monday. Goodnight.” With that, Aleea was gone again. Hot tears rolled down my face and I shook harder. There was a pain in my stomach. It was like millions of sharp knives piercing the inside of me. I cried even harder.
“Morning, Jex.” I tipped the coffee pot and the coffee came pouring out and into my travel mug. Jex had just walked in through the doorway. Without responding, he walked to the table and sat down where an omelet and bacon were waiting for him. He picked up his fork and shoveled lots of eggs into his mouth. If the things that happened the night before didn’t happen, I would’ve been scolding him for ignoring him. But because it did happen, I let it slide.
After packing my lunch for work, I sat down at the table and ate my two pieces of toast with butter. Jex was already done with his food before I was even done with the first half of my first piece of toast. When all of the food was gone, he put his dishes in the sink and went into his room.
I finished my toast and did the dishes before almost heading out the door. The door was halfway open and I was about to walk out when I heard someone in the kitchen. Turning on my heel, I saw Aleea pouring creamer and sugar into her coffee. I decided not to say anything and walked out of the house all the way, closing the door behind me.
To be continued...