If I had to describe my family in a handful of words, it would have to be “Barely together enough to be considered functional.” but in one word, “exhausting” works too. My brother was beside me in the car, reading something on his phone without making a noise. Knowing Ben, it was probably some comic. Despite our age gap being only a bit short of two years, we were completely different in pretty much everything we liked.
Mom and Dad were in the front seats arguing. Dad was driving down the road debating which way was the fastest to get home. Why was it that parents got so angry about leaving home? Family trips are never peaceful and without at least one big argument no matter who you hear it from, it seems.
To be fair, leaving the country to go to Belgium and see dad’s parents was the biggest trip I’ve been on yet. It was kinda boring to me though, and Mom and Dad seemed a bit stressed the whole time. I think if anyone had fun, it was Benny. He enjoyed spending time with Grandma Emilia and Grandpa Thomas. And I don’t think he’s talked as much in a week as he did explaining endless comic stuff to Aunt Daisy. She had this intense “I’m listening to every word” face on, but even I could tell it was going in one ear and out the other. That being said, I have to do the same thing to Ben, so I don’t blame her.
“Hey Benny,” I whispered.
“Not that name…” he whimpered.
“Alright Ben,” I corrected. “Can you send me those pictures you took?”
“In a minute.”
For a kid who hated having his photo taken, Ben sure did take a lot of photos of absolutely everything else. He’s got probably over a hundred photos between his phone and the pictures he’s dumped onto his computer, and maybe a dozen of them actually have him in them. I probably have more photos of him than he does.
Anyway, the ride back wasn’t that bad because Mom and Dad were completely oblivious to the children in the backseat. To be fair, Ben was oblivious to them while reading and once I put my music in and closed my eyes, I was also oblivious to them until we got home.
* * * * *
The next morning I jolted awake from Mom shouting my name. I rubbed my eyes and looked around, spying my empty suitcases and dirty clothes thrown around my room. I only unpacked in the loosest definition. It was all out of the suitcases, but just not in any laundry baskets.
“Sophie!” Mom called out again, this time entering through my open door. “I told you to take care of your clothes last night.”
“Ughhh,” I moaned. “You said to take them out of the suitcases. I did.”
Mom balled up a bunch of dirty laundry and threw them at my face in bed.
“Then put them in laundry baskets. Now.”
“Daaaaaad!” I shouted at the top of my lungs. “Mom’s making me do chores!”
“Then do them,” he said from far away. Mom put a smug look on.
“Finish them quick and there might be some breakfast left for you.”
I gathered all my laundry in one big scoop and dumped it in a laundry basket before throwing on some proper clothes and running downstairs. Dad was making breakfast, with Mom leaning closely over his shoulder at the food while Ben was reading off of his phone as usual.
“Ben, when’re you going to use that phone for texting?” I asked. He didn’t answer. I sat down next to him and tapped his shoulder as lightly as I could so he didn’t freak out when he was yanked away from comic-land.
“Hey, Ben, did you sleep alright?” I asked this time. He shrugged his shoulders, which was more than last time.
“I slept alright.”
He looked a bit more down for some reason. I don’t know why, but he’d randomly just clam up on us. Took some work to coax him out of that mood.
“Hey,” I said with a smirk. “What comic are you reading?”
Ben’s face lit up a bit immediately, and I could see the trace of a smile on his lips. He actually put his phone away for me too.
“Well I just finished Daredevil Issue #9, where Matt realized that he had to return to being Daredevil to help people and he jumped into action when…”
Maybe it was me being a bad sister, but I couldn’t pay attention. I just didn’t understand all the superhero stuff, and Ben was more obsessed with it than most at his age usually are. It never made a lot of sense to me, but nodding and occasionally reciting some stuff back to him pleased him and made him happy, so I played along.
“...but there was this gross romance scene at the end that I didn’t really like, but-”
“Hey, breakfast is served.” Dad said, sliding eggs and toast in front of Ben, who eagerly grabbed his fork.
“Mom, can you grab the pepper?” I asked.
“Here.” She slid the pepper across the table and I caught it in time for Dad to slide my eggs and toast in front of me. By the time <om sat down, hers was already in her spot, with the eggs and toast arranged in an attempted smiley face. Dad really does try his hardest.
“Thanks, dear,” Mom said, picking her meal apart and putting it in her mouth piece-by-piece.
“And here I thought it’s the kids I’d have to tell to not play with their food,” laughed Dad as he sat down.
“I’m eating it in the end,” she grumbled, rolling her eyes. “Don’t disrupt my process.”
We all had a bit of a chuckle at that. Seeing Mom sitting across from Ben, I could really see the similarities between them. I apparently look similar to dad, but I never saw it too much. It was always fun when the weekends came and Mom had enough time off that we could all sit around and do this though.