Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Hi, I’m Stephan; I'm a Triplet Child

All I wanted to say that evening was a goodnight and then doze off alone. I did not want George to bother me with the history test. I looked at the scratched door with the posters, some of them mine, some George’s. Locked. He was studying.
“2005”, Miss Nana said this morning, and “5 years into the millennium”. I remember the first time I heard mom say “millennium” when I was five; it had become my favourite word. Would it make a meaning to them if I told them I liked this word? I don’t think so. So I didn’t.
The history test tomorrow morning. Oh, how hard a thought this is to deal with, how much I want to forget! But it’s a test, and tests are for children what hurricanes are for tropical islands, whipping out, washing away vivid matter, yet bringing new water for new blossoms. But I am no tropical island; I don’t want to be caught in the trap of excellence George has fallen into. Today the teacher has distinguished story from history. She pinned me down to my chair when she uttered millennium, but she did not get into that. She just started telling us why people write history, why they write books, why they even bother think in a linear sequence of events, and there I lost her.
“Mom, at least tonight let me sleep in Helen’s room, alone, and put her in my bed. George will be studying for the test until after 11:00 and I am tired. Really tired! Will you?”
“Stephan, you know girls don’t sleep with the boys, and why should Helen lose her sleep and not you?”
“Because she sleeps as soon as she lies in bed! Al-wa-ys!” I said and then the first gasp blocked my voice. Mum must have realized that I would start crying again and being grouchy about it. And then she started once more, like all previous cold in-house nights, outside brilliant weather. She went into her odd delirium of shouting and screaming cut-off words and orders.
And then
And she looks at me with flaming eyes, I wonder, has she even thought for a second how much she might be disturbing the order in the house, Helen reading on the couch, dad watching TV, George reading at the back, and outside, the bats hunting, owls crying, rats coming out. The order I so much crave to remain as it is.
I looked at Helen as she was sitting on the couch with the eyes of an owl and the ears of an elephant. I thought it was really funny. She dropped her book when she met my look. Oh, the satisfaction I felt at that particular moment. The air I got into my lungs, the blood my heart sent to my throat and then to my eyes. The heat, the heat of hatred started burning my arms and I was ready to go and tear her book apart, page by page and the each page in three and four pieces, and throw the paper massacre in the fire place like a French King or a Nazi, and then grasp Helen and shake her, and tell her, “sis, history is all bullshit, they lie to us, I know cause aunt Chris told me!”
Aunt Chris told me. She is the only one I can trust now. I used to say my secrets to George, too, the prick! He always tells Helen, and then she goes about telling mum, because they are supposed to be “best friends”, and then Mum discusses it with dad, because it’s “serious”. And there when you least expect it, grandma comes and asks me about Josephine and why I kissed her.
Josephine. She didn’t come today, she didn’t hear about the history thing, and she doesn’t know we are having a test. God, it was so foolish of me, taking things in my hands, deciding she should not take the test. I don’t want to study, either; I don’t want to have the test. I am not a tropical island, Josephine isn’t, either, she is a continent she is.
Truth is I forgot to call her and tell her. Jesus, how could I ever forget? Miss Nana told me to make sure I told her, but how would I remember, if all day today was spent with Stelios and Markos on their computer?
And mum, she thought I was studying there, I didn’t even take my books with me! Oh, mum, how did I fool you so easily? You are such an easy… oh, I don’t even know what I could call you, mum. You are not here. You are standing right in front of me, hands on your waste, looking at me and Helen, I am sure you are wondering why and how we got to this point to have to shout to get me to do anything, every single day. I’ll tell you why, mum. It’s because you shout to all of us with every little thing that happens.
And you know how we take it? We are not the same, even if we are triplets, I could say that again. Helen gets scared and freezes, George is the “sensitive boy” who hides his head among the pillows to cry, yet being twice as scared, and I feel ever emptier and more disgusted every time she starts shouting to any of us. And I show it. My eyes icebergs, my body a dead volcano, no lava inside me, all my blood underground, there where I hide all my feelings to her. Because I can’t tell anymore what she considers wrong and what right, she has me totally confused in whatever our house rules are.
Do I get to clean if I dirty something? Not dirty anything? How? She dirties when she eats, dad dirties when he goes out to water and do some gardening, and grandma dirties when she prepares her bread and pies and everything. Why are we the only ones to get all that shouting when we come back inside with dirty shoes? Or when we forget a toy or a sock under the couch? Aren’t we supposed to behave like that? Where is your “HISTORY” in all this confusion, mom? Where is your “linear sequence of events”? I drop pieces of my bread on the couch, and before I even start getting up to go get the small electric sweeper, you shout me off and so you shut me off and I don’t know what to do. So I do nothing and I look at you with the wet eyes of hatred and anger, but never with the tears of fear! Ne-ver!
But then again George, poor bro, if he runs out in his socks, and you catch him with the corner of your eye, oh my! The pitch your voice can reach!!! That day when he tried to abruptly stop running in the veranda as you called hip-hop back to him furiously, the way you did, and his socks slipped on the marble and he faced the wooden rack ceiling as he landed half-back on the coffee table, oh, how I laughed that day!
And Helen, she is half like me and half like George, I think. She gets tears in her eyes, too, and I know her worst is when she has to do house chores and she messes up, the idiot she is. So much for the owl eyes she gives, it’s more like she is trying to get more images inside, least she understands; comprehends anything of what is happening to us.
You know, mum, things are happening to us, in linear order, and there is an end at a point in time and history is recorded. I peed in my bed while sleeping for the last time two years ago but you still say it to just about everybody who pays a visit, and you smile cutely, and you look at me, and then you turn to George, and proudly say “oh, what a perfect boy George is, he’s never peed in his bed, even when they were two, he was the first who sat on the toilet to… pardon, ha ha ha” and she laughs like mad, like a goblin from the forest nearby. In your face, mum, practically putting me and Helen down on our knees whenever it comes to achievements! Teacher says we all achieve! I achieve, dad achieves, and what a nice word to call a thing I was forced to do! To achieve in a history test.
I’m gonna knock on his door, now. Let mum think that all is well. I must say it in a low voice, “hey, George, open up, I have something to suggest. Are you in there?” I turn the key, slowly, and I enter. Oh, why did I not I see it coming? He is asleep, I mean, a book on a face is sitting and a forehead is reading in darkness, and a boy is counting sheep, and I am a poet for children! For retarded children, I mean! Aha! History has its ways to be written! I was planning to ask George not to write anything in the test tomorrow, but luck brought it forth that he has not studied anyway. But just in case he learnt even half of the three chapters, I will ask him anyway. So, here I go, hands, shake him, luck come forth, winds blow!
“Hey, George, wake up, it’s important, wake up!”
He pushes the book from his head and he drops it on the carpet. Terrified he almost falls from bed to catch it, but he misses the page he was at anyway. And he says, “what do you want, Stephan? I am reading!” I laugh and he knows why, he knows I know he is not perfect, he knows I can tell he can’t afford mum telling him the things she says to me and to Helen. Oh, how I know he hates the thought of not being The One for them, just because he is not the first-born! shmolensky brizauskas, and when I start mumbling my false Russian I know I hate him the most, when I remember that he was born two minutes after me, and he breathed the air second, well, I don’t mind that he cried first, that’s fine, but the doctor’s and the nurses’ hands where dirtied with my blood when they brought him into light, and now he is cursed by me to be second and under, but he always makes his way in school and teachers don’t know of first-borns and they don’t treat me as they should!.
“Millenium”, Stephan, come back to your senses, “achieve”, Stephan, you have a plan, here,” Josephine”, oh, we must rescue Josephine, Markos’s computer was very specific! Hey, Napoleon, where’s your bride? Oh, get off with these stupid thoughts already! Ok, Ok, I am back, and ready. I will work with him.
“George, how much of the test chapters have you covered? I’m telling you from now I read nothing/” He rushes to answer before I finish my sentence, “Not this time, Steph, I’m not gonna let you copy from me tomorrow, you know how strict Miss Nana is, please, don’t ask me. And you know what? You didn’t even ask me to come with you to Markos’s place!”
“B-But I, you were studying in our room, remember? You even told me to turn the TV volume at lunch, ‘cause you needed to relax and start studying!” he mumbles in anticipation, but I get no answer.
Around his silence I get my chance to start getting where I want to. “Listen, let’s not start this conversation. You are right, I should have invited you, and, yes, cheating tomorrow won’t get me anywhere. But I really, honestly, desperately, to our brothers’ oath, to the honour of the triplets, need a favour.”
“Then bring Helen here, if you are calling our oath, or don’t tell me at all!” he tells me in anger.
He is right; I admit to myself he is damn right, how can I call our oath if she is not here? Is she still on the sofa, fighting her dyslexia, as I overheard dad secretly call her weakness one day when aunt Chris was here? Don’t they know she pretends she knows nothing? That she is so lazy to study that she found the easy-way out, being called ä weak student”? Is she there selling her fairytale, that she can’t learn history, with one eye in the book, the other watching a movie with her happy daddy? Or did she go to her room? Let us check, noiselessly, I don’t want mum to smell the fishy triplets floating.
“Ok, George, stay here and I go get her. But you don’t have to study anything anymore.” Saying that I have already turned my back to him and started for the door. He has no words again.
How unsuspecting he can be sometimes, I called the oath! He should have realized by now! I mean, he knows Josephine was absent. But then again, we haven’t met today, at all; he doesn’t know I haven’t called her. I’ll tell him.
I turn to him again to say “Before I go get Helen, I should let you know I forgot to call Josephine about the test.”
“You idiot! You opened a grave for yourself but you are burying her! The only girl you ever kissed in your life!”
“Oh, give us a kiss and drop dead” I say ironically and I take one step towards him, red again, blood boiling, but a little alarm inside me stops me and sets to wise mode again. He was ready to hit back, anyway, so I most probably saved the day by not doing anything. I am out of the room.
In a low, but not guilty voice, hem, like a shepherd to his sheep-dog, again I enter the living room saying loud enough for mum to hear: “Helen, come, George told me to go and test him orally for the test tomorrow until we are ready to sleep. You should be there, too. It will help you review what you’ve learnt already, and learn some more. Isn’t that right, mum?” Mum looks at dad, and then dad looks at Helen, and Helen looks at mum, and then at me. She looked at me suspiciously, did I sound unconvincing? Or, too “nice”?
“No” Helen utters in a half voice and then she says it again louder, with more confidence. Mum asks her why she does not want to go and study with her brothers and she replies that “something doesn’t feel right”.
“I think they are cooking something, mum. Dad, you say it, they’ve never asked me before to study with them, what are they up to?” I hear her say and I must improvise, once again.
“No, Helen, come, it’s all right, I thought about it again, the test tomorrow, let’s all do well, it’s better for all of us, and you know what? Why should George get all the credit again? We can achieve anything if we want to, mind you; I am calling the Triplet’s Oath! You should come.”
As I turn to the corridor, I hear her get down the couch smoothly, I turn back smiling and I see her delicately closing her book to page 5 or 6, so much with the reading she did.
“Come, I say, he is waiting” I say to her and she responds with a fast motion of her knees to the front, she seems to now really want to go for it.
We both entered and the door closed behind us. Everything else stayed outside that night.

No comments:

Follow me fb