I sit here in the early morning watching the sun come up and wondering how much longer I will get to start my vanilla days here in my favorite spot. In peace.
Grant is back. It surprised me, only because I allowed myself to be lulled into a false sense of security over the past 20 months. One month for every year of his life. One month for every year that he made mine miserable. Well, that is too cliche. He made mine complicated. Unsettled.
I was less than a year old when he was born so my mother says I can’t possibly remember life without Grant. But I did remember the difference between my world with, and my world without, my brother. I knew this in my heart; the past almost two years confirmed it.
Why I am still at home? Because I cannot imagine living anywhere else on earth. This little slice of earth belongs to my family; I belong to it. If I had my way, I would stay right here forever and always feel like I am exactly where I belong.
Grant’s life has never been that simple. From the time he was born blue, with the umbilical cord wrapped around his neck as the story goes, he has been the center of drama, most of it self-created. Rebellion is buried deep in his DNA, along with a thirst for travel and adventure. If you want Grant to do something, you should tell him he shouldn’t, or couldn’t, and you would have a greater chance of the task being accomplished. Or send him anywhere away from this “god-foresaken” plot I called home to do your bidding, and he would gladly oblige.
So when Grant decided at 18 that he was leaving for good, despite my mother’s tears and protests and my father’s attempt to “talk some sense into him”, I could not be honest and still say that I was sad to see him go, though I did just that for my heartbroken mother. I grabbed the peace that I had been missing, clutched it like a security blanket. In my wildest dreams, I became physically whole also. That part had nothing to do with Grant at all, really. It was just that his stunning perfection somehow made my lack more obvious. How could it not?
In all the time we grew up together, I was never asked repeatedly, coerced, lectured, bribed, cajoled or hissed at. Grant was. All the time. Instinct pushed me to do the right thing and I was compelled, sometimes against my will, to do it.
I tried rebellion. Once. I refused to go downstairs for dinner because my father told me no regarding an issue I cannot recollect now. What I do remember is that instead of garnering a good twenty minutes to an hour of my father’s undivided attention, Mom appeared with a thermometer and chicken soup. They were convinced I was ill, or I wouldn’t have been “acting like that.”
Yes. It was an act. I gave it up.
Then Grant left.
Stranger yet, within days, my parents actually began talking to me at breakfast. Eventually they listened to ideas I had about how to make our little slice of heaven more productive, lucrative. Dad began entertaining the idea that he might recoup everything they’d shelled out to give Grant what Grant felt he needed (honestly, what Grant demanded) to make it “out there” on his own.
A month after he left, I moved into his bedroom which I had always, always envied. The east wall of his room was lined with bookshelves, and in the center of the wall the window looked out across the back of our property. The wide, cushioned sill was a perfect perch for watching the sun come up, its new light playing with the branches and leaves of the apple trees in the orchard and sending glistening ripples across the pond, perhaps dancing off the wing of a blackbird now and then. At night I could sit among my patient and forever friends, my books, and end the day with words strung together like a rosary of pearls.
That was exactly where I was sitting when I saw him return. He did not come to the front of the house, but crept in through the trees, stopping to pause at the pond, looking for a moment like he might walk out into it. I did not will my heart to race like a thoroughbred’s, nor my hands to tremble as if diseased. If I sat still I might burst, so I jumped to my feet, leaning closer to the glass to make sure of what I was seeing, smearing away the film of my breath with my one good hand. Finally letting the tears blur everything, I sat down again.
He looked horrible. But it was Grant.
And that would be all my parents would see. Their poor, heartbroken, body-broken baby. Dad would scoop him up in a bear-hug of delight. Mom would make food.
Eventually they would remember that perhaps they should tell me that the prodigal son had returned.
(From The Pocket Muse–Endless Inspiration by Monica Wood. Prompt on page 42: “Retell the parable of the prodigal son from the point of view of the unappreciated older sister.” This might not be finished. We shall see….)