Saturday, March 19, 2016

Three Siblings Reunion, Katy Comber

The Dream House Chronicles: Adam, Joe, and The Kid
By Katy Comber

Henrietta sang an old tune 
she sang it low like a thorn 
in the side…

The song echoed in Billie’s ears as she jolted awake. Was it in her dream? Was it the house? The house. Her ears perked and listened as a bass line thumped softly from downstairs. Billie reached for the softball bat under her bed. She was an attractive, single woman living in the large family homestead alone for the first time in her life. The bat was a gift from her dad. Dad. The graying mustached man with the crinkling eyes flashed in her mind. Crap. What was that? She never thought of her father if she could help it these days. Maybe it was because the bat was a gift from The Great Before. 
A clatter, a gruff and muffled curse, and a girly giggle sounded from the direction of the farmhouse’s kitchen. The owner of the giggle was foreign, but the low voice and that particular word belonged to, quite possibly and quite impossibly…
“Adam?” Another curse practically growled downstairs. “Adam? Is that you?” 
“Yep. Yeah, Kid. It’s me.” 
“Holy crap, Adam. You scared me.” 
“You got the softball bat in your hands don’t you?” 
“Of course.” 
“Well. It’s safe. Are you coming down or what?” 
“Are you guys decent?” Billie heard the giggle again, but it was clipped short this time. Billy imagined Adam’s warning look; his latest conquest rolling her eyes. Then Billie heard the rustle of clothes being gathered. A scampering pair of feet. The click of the powder room door lock. 
“We will be.”
“Crap. Just crap. Adam. I eat off that counter.”
“Whoa, Kid, that language.” Adam’s voice carried over as Billie padded down the stairs. Patronizing sarcasm coated every syllable, and Billie realized how many years had passed since she’d seen her oldest brother. She looked down at her braless chest covered by an oversized striped t-shirt and stirrup leggings with ripped knees and a waist folded over as it was two sizes too big. Perfect outfit for a family reunion.   
“Are those Mom’s? They’re enormous on you, Kid.” Adam’s greeting was never just hello or how are you. He preferred to greet people with criticisms. The ball forever in someone else’s court. Rejection was easiest when he controlled the reason. Girls like the one in the bathroom were the kind of girls who found verbal abuse refreshing and hilarious until they realized it for what it was. 
“Hello, Adam. Yes. They are mom’s. I found them when I moved back in and I like wearing them… obviously. Why are you and some girl here?” 
“She has a name.” 
“Lily. Rose… some flower.” 
“Posey.” the girl squeaked in the doorway. Adam rushed at Posey and tossed her onto his back. The action read as affectionate and playful, but Billie knew it was just a distraction for the girl. Posey cackled and grinned over Adam’s shoulder. “We’re here because of the letter.” 
As if on cue, headlights shone at the edge of driveway and the sound of a car approaching on the loose gravel announced another arrival. The slam of the car door, triggered something inside Billie. Joe was here. 
The footsteps trugged, hesitating and then resolutely pounding, up the front porch that wrapped around to the side kitchen door where the three waited. Two were breathless. One, clueless. Joe. How long had it been? The Great Before. 
“Hell-” The booming voice started as the door opened, “oh. H-hey.” Time itself held its breath. Joe, darling, kind, handsome, stood tall and wiry with his feet halfway in and out of the house. His right foot crossed the threshold to meet his left foot. He was inside. Suddenly the ticking of the grandfather clock in the living room was extremely loud. Tick. Joe looked at his siblings and the pretty girl straddling his older brother’s back and neck. Tock. Pushed the wire-rimmed glasses up the bridge of his nose. Tick. And… Tock. Grinned. Tick. 
The eruption of Billie and Adam greeting Joe was deafening. Everyone began to speak at once. Adam, perhaps accidentally, dropped Posey to the floor and, with Billie, pounced on Joe with a warm and generous hug. Joe’s scarred arms wrapped around Billie immediately and swept her up as he did when they were kids. In the commotion, Joe and Adam began talking about Dad, a letter, and The Great Before began to stroll around the room like a restless and feral cat waiting to be noticed only to run away as soon as someone attempted to approach it.  
“Alright. Alright.” Billie perched onto the counter. Looked at Adam and Posey, and slid off again. Joe watched. Adam laughed. Posey turned pink. Billie cleared her throat and stared at the floor as she asked her question. “What is this letter you keep talking about?” 
“He sent us all letters. I have yours. Dad thought if you just saw it in the mailbox, it’d be tossed.” Joe stared at his sister’s bowed head. They all had reasons to hate the man, but no one could hold a grudge like Billie The Kid. The letters were all similar in tone, but had minor differences according to its reader. The gist being: this is where you need to be, this is when you need to be there, this is what you may find when you get there. The minor differences were in the greeting line. 

My Dear and sweet Wilhemena
Please don’t toss this anyway before reading it. I’m sorry…

Hey Joe, 
Please make sure Billie gets her letter. It’s important that both of you…

Hope you’re staying out of trouble… 

 “Ugh. If he wanted me to read the thing, why’d he start out by calling me Wilhemena? I’ve always hated it.” Billie stared at the envelope, blue and slightly crumpled, and sighed at the return address. “So he’s getting out?” 
 “Three days.” 
 “Good behavior.” 
 “Does Mom know?” 
 “Adam and I tried contacting her, but--” 
 “I hate calling that place too.” 
 “He wants the house back.”
 “I know.” Billie sighed for the third time. This was it. They hadn’t talked about Mom and Dad, The Incident, and The Great Before in years. They stayed away from each other for this very reason. Talking about these things seemed to give power to them. Even thinking about The Incident stirred something in the house. The windows opened slightly. The smell of honeysuckle wafted in and the sound of the porch swing’s gentle creak and sway in the summer breeze caused Billie’s heart to pound. The house was waking up.  

….According to testimony, on August 14, 1975, two men followed Wilhemena Sinclair home from school. The men attempted to abduct the girl…”The house. It just swallowed them right up…”
“We didn’t do anything. It was the house....” A townsperson who wishes to remain anonymous states that Joe Sinclair has been committed to Lockend Asylum… “He had scars up and down his arms. Kid must’ve seen something. Overheard him crying about something about a whale made of wood.” 

Clyde and Sandy Sinclair received their sentencing today… Possibility of parole… testimony stricken from record…  Pleas of Insanity not considered by jury…

... When asked why she chose to come back to the house after her college graduation, Miss. Sinclair offered no comment...

 The floor vibrated for a moment. A gentle purring. The children were home. The occupants gentle and good of heart. For the moment, the house was satisfied. 


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