S is for Sister
S IS FOR SISTER EXCERPT:
I can feel his eyes traveling up and down my body as I turn and walk out of the room.
As I make my way to the kitchen I can hear Mom isn’t far behind, her heels clicking against the hardwood floors.
She swoops in like a hawk. “What’s going on, Savannah?” she whispers, her face just inches from my own.
I avert my gaze. “What do you mean?”
“In there.” She raises her hands in the air as if indicating the room around us. “You and Jared.”
I’m usually an expert at hiding my feelings, but when it comes to my mother, she can read me like a book.
“What are you talking about?” I keep my voice low.
She screws up her face, slight wrinkles settling in the corners of her harshly narrowed eyes. “You’ve barely been able to string a sentence together and he can’t stop looking at you.”
I shrug my shoulders. “Who?”
She scoffs. “Don’t play coy with me.” Her hands come to rest on her hips as she readies herself to give me a lecture.
It’s a stance I haven’t seen in years. It used to frighten me when I was younger, my mother being much stricter than my father. Her expectations always high and somehow I still feel she’s not proud of me.
“It’s a marriage, Savannah,” she starts. “You don’t mess with your sister’s marriage.”
Mom has been cheated on by husband number two and three, so I know she’s speaking from a deeply personal place. Her instincts in this instance are misplaced, nothing is happening between Jared and I. It’s all imaginary, on my part anyway.
“Nothing’s happening.” I meet her eyes, challenging her to question my intentions once more.
Before she can speak again, Selina saunters into the room. She has no idea what she’s walked in on and she doesn’t care to know.
“I’ll help you with dessert, Mom.” She dumps some dirty plates on the counter as she veers for the cake box. “Let’s see if Savvy did any good with her cake selection.”
She lifts the lid of the box and smiles wide. “Chocolate mud cake. Savannah you shouldn’t have.”
It’s her favorite, but that’s not the reason I bought it. It’s also George’s favorite, which Selina wouldn’t know because she doesn’t care about the small details.
I look to my mother who is standing over the kitchen sink, clasping the edge of the counter, her knuckles white from holding on so tight. She can’t bear to look at me. Her mind is made up like she’s certain something is happening between Jared and me, no matter what I say, I can’t convince her otherwise.
I turn on my heel, making my way back into the dining room where Jared sits alone. I want to turn right back around and walk out, but that would be way too obvious.
I take my seat and brace myself for the most awkward conversation of my life.
“Where’s George?” I ask.
“He’s gone to the bathroom.”
I nod as if I give a shit where George has gone, which I don’t.
“So, you’re really seeing someone?” he asks.
“It’s early days.”
“Who is he?” he asks, glaring at me from the other side of the table.
“Someone I’ve known for a while,” I say. The lies slide off my tongue easier than they should. Making up a fictitious relationship is something I never thought I’d do, but here I am, spinning lies to cover my own insecurities.
“Did you meet him through work?” Jared shoves his plate away and rests his elbows on the table, waiting, his fist supporting his chin.
“Yes,” I answer softly. Making it up as I go, or is he making it up? I can’t tell, I’m too busy squirming in my seat.
“Is it serious?” His tone is rough and throaty, and it surprises me.
I don’t know why, but the weight of our relationship seems to be resting on my answer. This will shape how he feels about me, and for some ungodly reason, that matters to me.
“No,” I say, my gaze meeting his. “It’s not serious…yet.”
I feel the tension break as Mom and Selina walk back in the room with George in tow. Mom is carrying the cake that I bought, now dressed with too many candles to count. She places the cake in the center of the table and we start a chorus of happy birthday while George smiles widely.
He waits for the song to finish before blowing out the candles. It takes him three attempts to extinguish the fire atop the cake. Grey smoke billowing around us.
Through the smoke, I can see Jared’s face. He hasn’t taken his eyes off of me once.
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