Excerpt from Manuscript; Kaye #3

A woman who is the black sheep of the family discusses her troubled relationship with her estranged brother.–


My brother found Jesus in college and since then he’s kind of been out of touch with the rest of the family. We used to be close as kids, at least I think we did. Maybe I remember it differently from how it actually was, because Jonathan doesn’t seem to feel that way at all. He just talks about all the times we fought and Dad would spank us and make us apologize to each other. He only sees the bad in things, which is ironic because he’s always telling me to stop being so damn negative all the time.


When I got pregnant Jonathan became massively embarrassed by me, he refused to even be seen with me in public. Than he went to college to study environmental law and he met Loretta and the rest is history. He tried to save me, my dad, and Leslie’s souls but we weren’t having any of that, so he distanced himself as far away from us as he could instead. I don’t like being around Jonathan anymore, I always feel like him and his wife are judging me. You might think I’m paranoid but I think the reason I suspect they’re judging me is because they’re judging me.
Loretta is infertile, and she and Jonathan have been trying for years to adopt, without success. I think Loretta has a lot of maternal energy that she focuses on things like the Special Olympics. She’s a good person, I guess. Sometimes she seems like such a good person that it kind of gets rubbed in my face a little bit. However, Loretta has one failing, and it’s that she resents me to some extent for being able to bear children so easily. Jonathan said once she didn’t understand why it was so easy for me and impossible for me, especially as an unwed mother. He was drunk. It was like God wanted me to have all the children and her to have none.
“It’s not a contest,” I said. I was drunk too. We were at a family get together and everybody was drinking more than they should have been, except for Loretta because, surprise surprise, she doesn’t drink.
“She said it, not me!” He stretched and smiled at me ruefully. His good looks had somewhat fallen by the wayside the past couple of years, with all the drinking he had done in his high school and early college years. There was something missing from his eyes. Even when he smiled he looked miserable.
“Do you really think I don’t deserve my children?”
“No one’s saying that, Kaye.” He ran his hands through his blonde, curly hair. I used to joke about that character in Peanuts, “My hair is naturally curly!” Jonathan had lots of admirers in middle school, and in high school girlfriends came in and out of his life too fast for him to keep their names straight. It’s a wonder he didn’t get any of them pregnant, it certainly would have taken the heat off me.
When I was sixteen Jonathan told me, with great trepidation, that he thought he might be bisexual.
“I like women. I mean, I really like women. But last week I kissed this boy from my class.”
I laughed.
“What the hell are you laughing about?!”
“Wait, you’re not joking?”
“No! Look, I knew you were just going to be a flake about it.”
“No! I think it’s nice. I mean, you have a 50-50 chance of finding someone. Who was the guy?”
“I’m not telling you that, Kaye. You’re such a gossip, everybody in the school would know by Monday.”
“I swear I won’t tell anybody! Please please please…”
“You wouldn’t know him.”
“Well, did you like it?”
“I was really nervous. But yeah, it was pretty great.”
I wonder if Jonathan has told Loretta about that. I’m going to say all signs point to NO. I always felt close to my brother when he told me things like that, allowed himself to be vulnerable. As far as I know, I’m the only one who knows Jonathan ever had those tendencies. But then he got a stick up his ass and he strived so hard to be different from us that it got in the way of me loving him, or even liking him for that matter.


He stopped calling Dad, once he even forgot to call him on his birthday. Dad was waiting all day for Jonathan to call him, and finally I gave him a call and raised hell. He apologized half-heartedly and said he had had a really long day and he would call Dad the next day. He didn’t. I was beside myself. I felt like he had betrayed us both. Dad says Jonathan is ‘damaged,’ he was always a sensitive boy and things were really hard for him. He once told  me Jonathan might have taken Mom leaving even harder than I did, he and Mom shared a special bond. I remember every year at his birthday Jonathan would sit by the telephone and wait for Mom to call him. Sometimes she did, sometimes she didn’t.


We had already started to drift away from each other and now we were basically strangers. I knew he hadn’t had an easy time of it, but I didn’t know why he had to take it out on Dad, or on me for that matter. I know he was mad at us and I guess I knew why but I guess I wished he would kind of get over it. We all hurt each other, we were that kind of family. And what other kind of family is there?



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