Blizzard — Chapter 25 by Redsliver* * *
I kissed Sam goodbye in the morning. I went to work. I was not at my best: the office was only about twice as functional as we had been before I had taken charge.
“Hey!” I beamed when Max called.
“Sam’s hounding me! She wants me to give her the fucking boots! You gave them to me!”
“Put them on and go talk it out with her.”
“They’re so slutty! I love them but I can’t really walk around campus looking like that!” Max’s exclamations outlasted the energy required to earn the exclamation marks.
“Can you wear them in your dorm room, at least?” I asked. “Go back and meet up with Sam. Call me after.”
It took eighteen minutes before my tense shoulders, sweaty palms, and stomach butterflies were alleviated by the ringer on my phone. “Oh my god! Oh my god! Oh my god!”
A chill went down my spine. “Oh shit, it didn’t work? Oh god, it’s my fault, I’m the one who put Sam in the chair, I broke everything, I—”
“No! I feel better about her but she doesn’t feel better about Alex!” Max wailed. “Here, talk to her!”
“Hi, handsome,” Sam purred into the phone. “Do you think it’ll be a problem with it just being you, me, and Max tonight at your brother’s?”
“Hi, Gene,” Issa knocked on the corner of my cubicle. “Need your signatures.”
I put down my phone and took the papers from her. “Listen, make sure everyone knows I appreciate you guys being here on a Saturday.”
“Those snow days kicked our asses,” Issa smirked. “If you didn’t step up we’d never have gotten back on track.”
“Yeah, like it was me!” I scoffed. “Seriously, you’ve been awesome. Tell everyone to take Monday off—I’ll need you at your best, and you guys earned the break.”
“OK, but what about—”
“We’ve caught up to the days we missed and got ahead of schedule. Take the day off. I won’t be here.“
I didn’t realize I had scratched off my signature without looking at the forms until Issa had walked away. I almost went after her but I heard Sam still talking on my phone. I ditched my desk and hoofed it to the conference room. Someone had stuck a post-it with “Sellout’s Office” on the door. I laughed, pulled it off, and locked the door behind me.
“—and it just doesn’t stop with her. You know?” Sam hadn’t stopped talking since she had asked about the plans tonight.
“I’m sorry. Sam, you need to meet me at the cafe. Kiss Max and I’ll see you in half an hour.” I hung up on her to the overacted kissing sound effects of the girls. “Shit.”
I walked out of the room and into my boss.
“Look, we have to discuss things, Gene,” he said. “I think you’re proving yourself to be misplaced here. I want—”
“I’ll have to get back to you on my career trajectory, Steve,” I interrupted, and billowed out the vein in his forehead. “I’ve got actual work to do.”
He froze impotently. I smiled at him. I had bald-faced lied to my boss, in public. I was finally proud of how much I was doing at my job, but risking my career was easy and instinctive when it was for any of my girls. I left the building. He wasn’t certain what to do with me. I jogged to the cafe and got there in time to hold the door for Sam. Her smile fixed my day.
“Guys! I got us a table!” Alex stood up and waved with both hands from the back corner of the room. I was shocked to see her. Sam’s eyes went dark and she looked to me, hurt.
“Ambushing you wasn’t my plan. I didn’t tell her. I came here to see you. But If this helps me fix things, I’m OK with it.”
“Then Max must’ve told her. Why would she do that?” Sam’s lower lip trembled for an instant before her jaw hardened.
“She wants to save the love,” I explained. I took the hug and kiss from Alex. I set her down across from me with Sam taking the spot on my left between us. Alex instantly hopped chairs to be on my right side.
“The boots didn’t fix things for Sam,” I said. “And Max needed them to tolerate her.”
“What? But doesn’t that mean that Max should be against me too?” Alex worried. Carmine, the redheaded barista, walked up to our table and set down coffees in front of each of us. Alex must’ve ordered in advance. I realized Carmine was standing as far away from me as possible, and watching me nervously; I muttered ‘thanks’, and turned my head to look away from her.
“Do you know what changed things?” Sam asked.
“Forcing you to sit in my chair,” I explained. “Magic is stupid.”
“Magic.” Alex blew on her mug. “Sam, come with me to the counter thingy.”
She gestured to the self-serve cream and sugar thingy by the door. I sipped my coffee black. I was three quarters done when they sat back down. Alex looked good and Sam looked worried.
“I think she’s disconnected from me, even with the boots,” Alex said.
“You’re not happy, though?”
“How would you feel if you had to share one of us with some other boy?” Sam worried.
“Bordering on violence,” I said. I had never been jealous. I had been cheated on, but I had ended those relationships with my hurt and anger directed at the cheater, not the other man. Things were different with Sam, Max, and Alex. They were mine. I would do whatever it took to keep them that way. Sam was blushing for my answer. Alex vibrated with energy. She had to put down her mug before she spattered more hot liquid onto her hands. I wrapped an arm around Sam’s shoulders. “You’re jealous?”
“Maybe?” she said. “I feel... the same as I did yesterday but I’m not... raw. It doesn’t feel... sharp to be around Alex. Or squicky, either. I don’t need to scare her off.”
“Maybe that’s not what happened,” I said. I turned to Alex. “Do you maybe think her mind’s been changed?”
“What are you talking about?” Sam asked.
“Alex, for Sam,” I said, and brushed Alex’s hair from her face. “Do you think Max would’ve been OK sharing a guy before you guys started with me?”
“Not at all,” Alex said, looking to Sam. “She’s still angry I took a piece of lemon off her plate and ate it on our grade 9 class trip.”
“And how would you have felt?” I asked.
She frowned. Tilted her head. “Not rewired. I’ve never been happier to have something to share with Max.” She grabbed my hand and leaned in to stage-whisper. “Sam makes it even better.”
Sam reached out and took Alex’s other hand. Sincerity gleamed in their eyes.
I let go of Alex’s hand, and called Max. No answer.
“She turns her phone off for classes,” Alex said. “I called her on the first day and interrupted the first professor she ever had in the first class she ever took. She was mortified.”
“But she’s not in class, she’s in study group.”
“Yeah, well. I dunno if you noticed, but Max is a nerd. Except she does get laid a bunch now.”
I looked at Sam; she saw me looking, and nodded.
I quickly texted a “Sorting things out with Sam and Alex. Love you.” I stared at my sent text. It struck me that I had used those words again. I had passed the point of no return, and it felt right. All in. I grabbed Sam’s hand.
“I love you,” I told her. Her smile brightened by the megawatt as her brain processed what she had just heard. She dived into a hug that rocked me back a step. I kissed her on the mouth and pushed her back into the chair. I reached over and took Alex’s hand. She was on fire waiting for me to say it.
“I love you! Jinx!” She overlaid my admission. She thrust forward and kissed me. “Mmm, Gene,” she moaned happily, and she slipped back.
“That’s not how you play jinx,” Sam fussed. “We’re supposed to tease him before we say his name.”
“He’s trying to make us work. Us. This.” Alex gestured between herself and Sam, then extended her arms to include me and as much of the world as it took to reach Max. “I’m not putting that at risk for a stupid game. I’m not losing you. Any of you.” She had a determined expression on her face, and the threat of a tear in her eye.
Sam took in Alex’s words with an excited smile, but there were doubts down in her guts and they bubbled up until she was frowning again. I put down my empty coffee cup.
“I think, when I put you in the armchair, Alex, all three of you had been fully boot-charged to like me,” I theorized. “All of a sudden, the rules were different but you were on a trajectory of loving me and loving the others. Your feelings kept going as they were. Like a vector.”
“The armchair?” Alex and Sam looked at each other. Something clicked and they looked at me.
“I didn’t want to sit in it!” they said in unison, then tripped over each other on “I swear I didn’t” and “I promise I didn’t”.
“And then you did anyway. Or I made you do it, Alex,” I explained. “A few days later, I did the same thing to you, Sam. But when you were in the chair, you weren’t all hugs and love like Alex was. You were in need of the boot recharge. You were on a vector of a little bit of hurt, a little bit of fear, and a chunk of confusion. You kept sailing on that vector.”
“Um, what do you mean by vector?” Alex asked after a silent moment.
I laughed, shaking off some of the tension. I wasn’t talking to Max. “Have you ever heard of Newton’s law: an object in motion stays in motion?”
“Yeah,” Sam declared.
“Yes.” Alex made the connection too.
“I’m saying your feelings kept following the path they were on.”
“So, Sam’s never going to like me the way I...?” Alex trailed off, her voice breaking. Her eyes glistened as the first tears trickled to her cheeks. Trembling, she looked to Sam.
“No, she’s going to love you.” Sam nodded fiercely, and I squeezed her hand. “Normally, the hard work of a relationship isn’t called for while your brain is flooded with I-love-you neurochemicals. Maybe it should be.”
“Is there a way to get Max loving the shit out of you, me, and Alex and send her flying on her vector?” Sam asked. “Not ‘flying’… What’s the right word for vectors?”
“‘Following’. And I’m pretty sure there’s a Max solution. I don’t know if there are other side effects yet,” I said.
“Max’d rather be in love with us, no matter what the side effects,” Alex said, sniffing.
“So what do we do?” Sam asked.
“You’re going to spend the day with Alex, and she’s going to win you over with all of the Alex that she is.” I stroked Sam’s cheek. “Meet me at my place at six. Max will be there.”
I was late leaving work. My stomach churned as I thought about how Sam and Alex’s day had gone. I focused on my responsibilities. I had an idea that if I ever rose too high on the corporate ladder, I’d never actually get to leave work, only leave the building.
I checked my phone as I walked by Winter’s apartment. It was 6:34. I took a deep breath but didn’t calm myself down. I glared at the number 1 mounted on her door. I would cut her out. Let her die on the vine. I walked straight into my apartment door when it refused to open. It was locked. I banged my fist.
“Back to finish—” Winter was surprised to see I wasn’t at her door when she opened. I couldn’t hold back the smirk. Her wind shook the building. I enjoyed a little petty revenge that she couldn’t tell whose door I was knocking on. I really needed to get my girls somewhere better.
Ahead of me, I heard the deadbolt slide open. I walked in my apartment without a glance to Winter. Max grabbed me in a hug and I kicked the door shut behind me.
“Are they undamaged?” I asked in a whisper to the redhead’s ear.
“Alex is unflappable.” Max unzipped my coat as I kicked out of my boots. “Sam’s exhausted.”
“Only mentally! My body’s yours for the taking!” Sam shouted down from above.
“We agreed that if you want her on top, Max and I will hold her arms and move her like a puppet!” Alex giggled.
“We actually did agree to that,” Max said. “Why are you late?”
“Kicking ass being a working man,” I bragged, and pushed her butt. I chased her up the stairs. Her skirt floated around her knees. I stopped and looked at all of them as I landed on the floor. They were dressed up. I think they all had their hair done. Just to meet my brother? I was grinning like a maniac.
Alex was wearing a pale blue dress and flesh-colored hose. She had a light leather jacket for her bare arms and shoulders, and a matching bag. Her throat glittered with the dark blue stones on her choker. Her hair was thick and fluffy and braided over her shoulder.
Max had a tight green sweater and a black skirt. Her outfit was much more weather-appropriate, with black leggings under the skirt. Her hair framed her glowing face and smile, and it was difficult to look away. She had four expensive-looking bracelets all on her left wrist. Gold, silver, gemstones, and pearls.
Sam had opted for lurid red. Her dress was thinner, more figure-hugging, and lower cut than the others. She had a fluffy coat that went with it, though, and hovered down to her mid-calf. Her legs were in black stockings. A pendant of green and pink hung on a silver chain to her cleavage.
“Wow, you girls look crazy good,” I said.
“We want to make a good impression,” Max explained.
“All of us want to make good impressions,” Sam said.
“What were your first thoughts when you saw us like this?” Alex asked, and raised her hands in a joyous pose.
“That Valentine’s Days are going to break my wallet.” I answered all of their beautiful clothes and glittery jewelry honestly. Sam looked shocked. “You guys can love a poor man, can’t you?”
“Nope!” Alex smiled. “Make more money.”
“Alex!” Max looked scandalized. She glared down the blonde who giggled triumphantly. Max sighed. “Oh, you’ll be sorry. If he makes more money, he’ll spend more time at work and less with us.”
“Oh, then we should move into a cardboard box immediately,” Sam declared.
“I’ll call the realtor,” I said. “No, a cab.” I looked down at my phone and answered. “One of you get our ride. Hey Doug.”
“Hey, just wanted to say I’m not mad at you for cancelling,” my brother said. “Look, I want you—”
“Cab’s on its way,” I interrupted when Alex punched the last details in the app.
“What? You couldn’t RSVP? Dammit! I’ll put on pants.”
I laughed harder than I should. The girls all were excited to know the joke but I had decades of understanding. My brother was pretending to be as slovenly as me. Perhaps ‘pretending’ was an overstatement: if he honestly didn’t think I was coming, then conceivably he actually wasn’t wearing pants.
“I expect the finest crackers for those cubes of cheese and slices of pepperoni you promised us.”
“Shit, I gotta get another deli tray, then. Okay, if I’m not here to let you in when you arrive, buzz 8100 to get through the front door. The apartment will be unlocked.”
“Cool cool,” I said. “See you soon.”
“Hey! Hi! Holy mother of God! Now I know you’re not prostitutes, Gene would be living in a cardboard box.” My brother entered his big apartment to find us sitting around the living room. This was the kind of place I should have for the girls to visit.
“I changed my mind.” Sam laid her head on my shoulder. “Alex was right. Make more money.”
“Don’t call them prostitutes, even obliquely.” I smiled for my brother. “Alright, the one charging you for a hug, that’s Alex.”
Sam flicked my ear, and smirked. “Not even obliquely?”
I laughed. She rolled her eyes.
“Alex!” Doug tossed a plastic tray of meat and cheeses onto his kitchen table. He actually had a kitchen table. My brother was wearing a clean sweater and loose jeans. He welcomed her in, and she hugged him.
“Do you have a name? I don’t think you want to be ‘Gene’s brother’ for the rest of the night.” She leaned her head and looked up at him.
“That’d be the perfect revenge, wouldn’t it, Doug’s brother?” He laughed at me. “I’m Doug. Charmed, my lady.”
He kissed her hand and walked her into the living room. Max was half in and half out of her seat. She looked to me about whether she was going to get up or wait. I grabbed her butt and pushed her to her feet.
“The great hugs run in the family,” Alex alerted Max. Doug accepted a warm hug but with less momentum.
“That one’s Max,” I said. I lifted Sam’s chin with a finger and directed her to my brother. “And this one’s Sam.”
“Wow,” my brother said as he let go of Sam. “You girls are as pretty as he claimed. That’s never happened before.”
“Do you always make jokes at your brother’s expense?” Max asked.
“Of course,” he grinned. “Number one rule of older brothers.”
“Oh, I guess I always wanted an older sister then,” Max tried to joke back. Doug erupted as if it was the funniest thing he had ever heard. Max lit up with so much pride. If they liked Doug, maybe they liked me too. I realized something—something that hadn’t occurred to me in all the time since they first showed up on Sam’s twisted ankle: I had never once thought I deserved them.
“You OK?” Alex asked.
“A little underdressed,” I said, “but I’ve never been better.”
Little cheese cubes, handsy legal-aged girls, and a brother who knew all of the worst stories to tell. The night was going great.
“And it turns out Alex’s vagina is named Me Time.” I chose the winner from our Cards Against Humanity. Sometimes I made up my own categories.
“Hey, that card says ‘Instead of coal—’” Sam shut up when she saw all of us smiling pleasantly at her.
“Me Time was mine.” Max blushed shyly.
“Boom! Who knows her best friend!” Alex forced a high five on Max.
“Who’s horny!” Slightly drunk, Doug’s boyfriend slipped happily in the apartment door. He stopped to see me, three women, and his boyfriend staring up at him.
“I am,” Alex said for the table.
“Yeah, I could go for a few rounds,” I agreed.
“Shut up and get some wine and I’ll introduce you around,” my brother shrugged off the embarrassment. “And now we got enough people for teams. Three on three?”
“And enough wine for teams,” the boyfriend said.
“Alex, Sam, and Max,” I pointed out each. They waved. He suaved around the table shaking hands and aimed straight for the wineglasses. He never gave his name. Neither did I, because I did not remember it.
We started on Code Names.
“How do you gals know Gene?” he beamed at the table.
“We’re dating him,” Max said.
“Team Girlfriend!” Alex laughed. Sam gave Alex a high five after a moment and a forced smile.
“Team Girlfriend?” He watched Sam with a crooked smile before he tipped his hat to me. “Supersex, indeed. I stand in awe, Gene.” Under his begrudging praise, I recalled his name: Kent.
“You’re sitting,” Sam declared.
“Boom! Supersex victory for Team Girlfriend!” Alex erupted in giggles. I made a note to keep track of how often she refilled her wineglass.
“Uh, yeah, that makes the three of us Team Penis. Codenames?” I suggested.
“I’ll go grab it.” Doug got up and set off. Max was having a much better time. These were fun-to-play games. These suited her just right. Alex excelled here as well.
I ate my cheese, sipped my wine, and tanked Team Penis.
“At least we’re compatible in bed,” Kent announced as Doug’s guess and my affirmation hit the black tile and we lost another round.
Sam and I stood together. I bumped her hip with mine as we looked over our spread of oddly complex images.
“You OK?” I asked.
“He’s defecting! Bring him back to our team!” Kent warned Doug.
Doug shook his head. “If they want him, we’re not stopping them.”
“I’m red, you know.” She tapped the blue pips on our card. “Team Penis first.”
“And Team Girlfriend never!” Kent laughed. “Ah, female orgasms. Why even? Am I right?”
“No. You’re not.” Sam needed a soothing hand up and down her back, but she smiled at me as she regained control.
Willpower depletion: the effort it takes to keep control, saps away the ability to hold off decadent or self-destructive indulgences. I don’t know if the theory is 100% sound and valid, but it feels right. I was looking at her and she was smiling back, but she was tired after a day of fighting anger and loving us. I suddenly remembered that, despite how insanely in love we were with each other, I still didn’t know these girls that well. I hoped Sam’s indulgence wasn’t mean girl nastiness.
How much of that fight was left inside her? Should I call it a night? I know Alex wouldn’t like it if I tapped out and gave Team Girlfriend the reflexive win. If she knew it stopped Sam from taking all of this on, Alex would be hugging, happy, and healing in a heartbeat.
“You’re first, Gene,” Sam declared. She was determined. I nodded.
“Three, railroad,” I said. The goal of the game is to have your team identify which of the strange amalgamated pictures matched your colors on a grid only the clue-givers see. One of those pictures leads to your team losing the round. Mine were obvious. I slapped our blue tiles.
“And now Team Girlfriend crushes Team Penis!”
“Please don’t,” Doug smiled.
“Take that, Penis!” Alex giggled, and threw aggressive gang gestures across her chest and across the table.
“We didn’t even get a tile yet, Alex. Maybe taunt when we’re winning?” Sam frowned. She took a deep breath. “OK, um, two, navy.”
There was an anchor and a sailor on the board. I smiled. Obvious.
“It’s the sweater and the anchor.” Alex swayed into Max. “You know that awesome navy sweater she has?”
“Of course I do,” Max smiled. “I borrowed it on New Year’s, remember? But she said navy.”
“Right, the anchor and the sweater. The army and the color.” Alex beamed.
“The army and navy are branches of the armed forces. The navy isn’t an army,” Sam said.
“No extra hints now,” Doug smiled. Sam took a deep breath.
“Yeah, quiet down,” Kent smirked. Sam glared at him. I bumped her near hip and reached across her back to rub her far one. She leaned her head on my shoulder.
“I’m saying anchor,” Max tried to reach and point for the sailor.
“Anchor! Final answer!” Alex shouted. Max nodded.
“One, red,” Sam’s excitement sounded relieved. I dropped their tile on the board.
“And the sweater,” Alex was about to point.
“That one is striped,” Max tried to say, “but Sam’s isn’t.”
“They both have those same v-necks,” Alex argued.
“They do,” Max looked down at her boobs. Her sweater didn’t have that cut. She looked at me. She wished it did. I smiled.
“Sweater! Final answer!” Alex erupted in glee.
Doug caught my eye and shook his head. “This is a Team Girlfriend thing.”
Sam’s shoulders were trembling and her jaw was crooked. Her eyes were wide. She was an easy read. Max was looking at Alex.
“You’re sure?” Max pushed.
“That’s our guess!” Alex smirked and knitted her fingers behind her head as she reclined.
“The sweater,” Max looked up, “final answer.”
“There’s a sailor! Right there!” Sam barked as I laid down the black Team Girlfriend Loses token.
“And Team Penis is king!” Kent laughed at the three girls. It was mean-spirited. Doug winced, and touched Kent’s shoulder, then made a “stop that shit, you dumbass” gesture.
I rubbed Sam’s shoulders. I was about to call it a night. She was steadying herself.
“Christ, Alex. Did you see the sailor or did you want to lose?” Max’s face twisted from serenity to wrath.
“But you backed me up?” Alex frowned.
“And you? ‘Navy’? You’re always pulling our words apart and telling us what we meant to say. Boats? Ships? Anything Alex wouldn’t go off the deep end with?”
“It was a good clue,” Sam insisted, and shrank in on herself a little. “Right, Gene?”
“Yeah, ask the guy with the answer key, Sam.” The window rattled. Max draped her arm over her chair and leaned back, thrusting her tits upward and out. She lidded her eyes as sexily as she possibly could. Her voice turned low and eager. “Not like you’d ever have anything you wanted without his permission.”
Sam inhaled sharply through her nose, and dug her fingernails into the couch cushions. Her face grew redder as she held her breath. We made eye contact, and she slowly exhaled.
“Excuse me,” I told Kent and Doug. Max frowned but she let me take her hand.
“Shit it’s cold!” Sam squealed. I pushed her and Max out onto my brother’s apartment balcony. I had on a sweater and pants. I was still cold. Max was worse and Sam was unprotected. The wind was whipping wildly and that ran down my temper.
“I can’t have this,” I said. I was looking at Max. When it had been me or Alex on the chair, everything seemed to wear off in the middle of the day, probably noon. Real noon, not 12:00 Atlantic Standard Time.
“You can have whatever you ask for from me,” Max promised. Her face was turning red in the wind.
“I know. What I want is an end to the mean words and sniping,” I said. “All you have to do is put on the boots and you’ll feel right about Sam again. We’ll have to go home now.”
“We brought them. They’re rolled up in Alex’s bag.”
“I put them there!” Sam interjected.
“It was my idea, you—” and Max’s eyes went wide. “Oh my god! I’m being terrible! I’m being such a bitch! Oh my god. Oh my god...”
I was relieved that they’d planned for this eventuality. We could reset Max’s mood 15 feet from here, not 15 blocks. I grabbed Max’s wrist. “Take the bag to the washroom. I don’t want you tracking everything—”
“I know not to wear boots on the carpet,” she huffed at me. I smiled, shook my head, I kissed her.
“Jesus it’s cold! Don’t get your tongue stuck to her braces.” Sam wiped away tears so her eyelashes didn’t freeze.
“I had my braces taken off in October! Long before we met Gene, skan—I’m sorry. I’ll go put on the boots.”
Max dashed back inside. I pulled shivering Sam against me. I rubbed her arms and tightened the embrace to ease the shiver in her bones and the chatter in her teeth. “It’s not as easy for you, is it?”
“No,” she said. “I felt better to get those mean things out.”
“Yeah, and punching and kicking feels better when you’re angry. But just letting your feelings fly out and hurt people comes back on you when you cool down.”
“And the next time you’re angry, your brain expects to let those punches and kicks fly,” Sam nodded. “I’ll apologize to Alex.”
“You know,” I said, “I think she’s been taking it better.”
“‘Better’ doesn’t have to mean ‘good’,” Sam pointed out.
“No, no it doesn’t,” I said. “Maybe stop with the wine?”
“I only had the one glass,” she said. “I’m surprised Max is still standing, though.”
The wind curled up our legs and over our arms. We shivered together and rushed inside.
“He-ey!” Kent smirked at us and waved. “Come have another drink! The cause of, and solution to, all of life’s problems.”
“That’s from the Simpsons!” Alex tittered. She was easily half in the bag, maybe four fifths.
“Things better?” Doug asked me.
“I think, maybe,” I said.
“I’m just a little off.” Sam frowned. “Gay guys are lucky. No periods.”
“Yeah, that’s why God made me in his image,” Doug said. “I’m going to steal my brother.”
“OK,” she said. “I’m going to eat a bunch of sweet things and drink more wine.”
“Or God made you in her image.” Doug grinned. “Try not to let Kent kill your livers.”
Sam squeezed my hand and my brother thrust my coat into my chest. We went out onto the balcony. He lit up a cigarette.
“Only a pack a month,” he said. “You want to start? Helps calm the nerves, and I’m guessing three girls are a handful.”
“An Andre the Giant handful.” I nodded. “It’s awesome.”
“Yeah, they’re pretty, affectionate, and volatile,” he said. “You don’t think it’s going to work?”
“It’s not going to fail because I didn’t do everything I could to make it work,” I declared.
He looked me over as he rapidly finished the cigarette. He shot an arm out. I flinched, even though the last time we actually fought was when we were 11 and 13. Too much alcohol. Too much drama. He grabbed my shoulders and hugged me.
“Listen, that kind of fighting. That’s sisterly.”
“Oh, well, that’s good, right? You and me, we’d fight until we were bloody and bruised, and then four hours later we’d be looking for each other to play Mario Kart.” I grinned.
“Brotherly isn’t the same as sisterly,” he countered. “Boys fight to win the fight. Girls fight to salt the Earth so nothing ever grows again. That kind of wasteland is not a place you can live. But sisters do have to live with each other even after the fight.”
“I don’t follow,” I said.
“They need to learn how to fight,” he said. “And not like us. And not like you and one of them will.”
“Everyone needs to learn that,” I said. I was thinking. The wind came but I had already had my sights on Winter.
“Kent wants you guys to take the spare room tonight,” my brother said. “He doesn’t think you’ll all go to bed together. He doesn’t believe this foursome thing. That’s why he’s been digging at Sam all night. He was so surprised it was Max who went off first. He’s an idiot. I know you all are together. The girls will pile into that bed with all the excitement and thrill you ask of them. They’ll bury their fight until they come out tomorrow.”
“Waiting a couple of hours helps burn down the anger.”
“Not if you stoke it all night by looking into the face of the girl who made you angry,” he said. “Alex has been good all night. Reward her by taking her home and sending the other girls off to cool down.”
“Yeah, except Sam and Max are dorm mates.”
“Well then, if you’re fucked, have a foursome,” he laughed. “There’s nothing else you can do.”
“There might be,” I said. I could salt the Earth so nothing grows again.