Lies, lies and damned lies-even by omission.
Thursday evening, news time. The cats are fed and snoozing contendedly, dinner is on, all is quiet.
Then she arrives back, bursting through the doors, (why does she not open them like normal people?) Cats scatter and Opium fills my nostrils. She flings her coat over the sofa. (why does that look so messy?)
'Did he ring?'
'Oh, no, I don't think so.' We both look at the unplugged phone. I grin sheepishly. 'Or he might have... I've was working, then I went to-'
'Jesus, what is it with you and phones?' She plugs the phone in and checks the messages, her face growing more pinched, her left foor tippity-tapping on the floor. 'Bastard!
'I thought you were finished with him?'
'He should have called.' She flings the phone down (why does she fling thing? Can't she just-STOP IT!)' I could be lying dead in the street somewhere for all fucker knows.'
I watch the news as she storms around for a while, making calls to her hideous and nefarious friends. After twenty minutes she looks fed up and close to tears. Clearly something is expected of me.
'Etheline, why don't you call him?'
She stalls, glares, her knuckles whiten on her mobile. 'Me? For what? What do I want to talk to that selfish fuck for?'
'I don't know, maybe...'I pull a face. I don't know either. I've met Kevin, I wouldn't want to talk to him, but then I didn't buy a house with him and promise to marry the twat some day. I think he has womanly hips and I don't like the way he purses his lips when he's thinking- like a pile has popped out and he's trying to suck it back up. So okay, I wouldn't call him, but I'm not my sister, and mostly, mostly I want my sister's nervous energy to stop cluttering up my apartment. 'Maybe you should just ring him.'
'I don't want to talk to that man ever again.'
'He's a prick.'
She flops down beside me on the sofa and rests her head on my shoulder.'Thank you for letting me stay, I don't know what I'd do without you.'
Inexplicably I feel pleased and magnanimous. Maybe it won't be so bad having her here, maybe it will be-
'OOOOhhh,' She groans. 'Why hasn't he called?'
The news finishes, Ear to the Ground is next. I am a cultchie at heart so I turn up the volume. Etheline frowns at me.
'You never liked him.'
'Kevin you dip. You never liked him, did you?'
"Meh?' She jerks back as though scalded.'What kind of fucking answer is that?!'
Suddenly I am transported back twenty years. She is 15, I am 13. She is laughing because my yellow plastic button earrings have made my ears get all infected and yucky.She is barring me from borrowing ANY of her things-including Jackie magazines she had already read. She says if she finds me in her room again she is going to tell everyone I sing 'Too Shy Shy' in front of a mirror, sucking my cheeks in and using washing up liquid to make my hair stand straight up.
'Actually.' I say with a tight smile, 'I think the two of you are perfectly suited to each other.'
'Really?' The genuinely hopeful look on her face makes me feel guilty as hell. I am a shit sister. I pat her hand.
'Yes, I'm sure he'll call soon. He's probably angry, trying to make you sweat a bit.'
'Yeah, you're probably right.' She smiles then and kicks off her shoes. As she curls her legs under her and flicks her eyes to the TV screen, I resolve not to tell her that our mother has already gotten wind of the break up, and that it was Kevin who told her. My mother has already 'been on' and she is not 'very happy about the situation' and the real kicker...she always thought Etheline was 'too flighty' for Kevin.
Way to pick a side Ma!
She jabs me with her foot. 'Jesus, put on Entertainment Tonight or something, would ya? God Cat, Ear to the Ground? Har, you're such a fucking dork sometimes.'
I change the station and turn to her, my face solemn and contrite. 'Oh, by the way, Mom called...'