click click clack click clack clack…
February had been sitting in front of the computer for well over an hour, simply staring blankly at the screen, before the right words to express the idea she’d been brewing finally began to leak into her brain. Writing had always seemed like the obvious choice for her as a career…long hours of quiet solitude, setting her own hours, and working exclusively with her own ideas…so she was surprised when composing her first novel turned out to be a struggle for her.
“Dad could have warned me,” February had thought grumpily when she had first taken her place at the desk in the wee hours of the morning. “But then, THAT might have required actual communication of some sort.” A stab of guilt pierced February’s heart at what she perceived as an uncharitable thought towards her father…true, Connor had always been known for being pretty taciturn, but he had lost his wife only months ago. With a sigh, February laboriously began the process of putting her thoughts onto paper. Martin Luther got up to find his sister furiously typing away, her thoughts having finally begun to find their flow, and had unobtrusively settled himself at the kitchen table with his breakfast when Connor unexpectedly stepped out of his room.
“Kids,” he began awkwardly, training his gaze at his shoes rather than at his children, “I’m going to be going out in a bit to visit with your Uncle Jared.” February spun in her seat and gaped openly at her father, all of her carefully constructed plot lines forgotten instantly. Martin Luther, on the other hand, merely nodded approvingly. “Good vibrations,” he mumbled through a mouthful of cereal. “We are family.” Connor nodded hesitantly at his son before shuffling back into his room and quietly closing the door. Utterly perplexed, February swung her baffled gaze from her parents’ bedroom door to Martin Luther. “What,” she demanded “was that all about?” For once, however, Martin Luther seemed to have nothing to say; he merely smiled enigmatically at his sister and slurped noisily at his Frosted Llamas. “Whatever,” February muttered, rolling her eyes and resettling herself in front of the computer. She had only just regained her lost train of thought when the jarring notes of Martin Luther’s ringtone cut through her senses, sending everything she had just come up with dancing away just out of her reach once again.
“Martin Luther!” February shrieked, slamming her hand on the keyboard in frustration, “Seriously??” Martin Luther grinned a bit evilly at his sister before pressing the “receive” button and holding the phone to his ear. He didn’t say “hello;” he never did unless he was sure of the caller’s identity. “Could be a stranger,” he would explain. February couldn’t believe he still hadn’t gotten past the whole “stranger danger” thing…honestly, he was so weird. She crossed her eyes and stuck her tongue out, trying hard to distract her brother, but, aside from the tips of his ears flushing crimson, Martin Luther failed to take February’s bait. Shrugging dismissively, February was just beginning to turn her attention once more to her slowly developing novel when Martin Luther’s face suddenly changed. Before February’s concerned eyes, the somewhat vague smile that normally adorned her brother’s face slipped from his lips and his shoulders fell into a dismal slump. “What is it?” February hissed, “What is going on?” In response, Martin Luther wordlessly held his cell phone out to his sister. With trepidation, February accepted the device and held it to her ear, expecting to hear Tam on the other end explaining that he no longer wanted to be Martin Luther’s boyfriend. Instead, the distinct tones of Pauline Wan came shrieking through the earpiece.
“You hear me, Martin Luther?? Your uncle, he is dead in my house! You come get him RIGHT NOW!”
“Oh, my Plumbob…” February murmured. Quickly, she identified herself to Pauline, who wasted no time in explaining that Uncle Jared had come to visit the Wan home a few hours earlier before succumbing to a heart attack in their living room. “I don’t want no stinky old dead man in front of my t.v. while I watch my shows! You come get him right now!” Pauline was quick to add at the end of her shrill tirade. “Erm…I think you’ll need to call the police about actually, ah, picking him up —” February managed before Pauline interrupted with an outraged squeal. “Police?! No way, that good for nothing scumbag Hank Goddard is police. No way he stepping foot in my house!” After several more minutes, February finally convinced Pauline to call Jared’s longtime girlfriend, Claire Ursine, while February contacted the police station, on the condition that the “good for nothing Officer Scumbag” not be assigned the case, of course.
“This can not be happening,” February groaned after disconnecting the call. “Dad’s finally starting to get out of his funk and now we’ve gotta tell him that his brother just died.”
“What…?” Unnoticed in all of the commotion, Connor had crept out of his room just in time to hear February’s upsetting proclamation. February exchanged a horrified glance with her brother before turning concerned eyes to the suddenly ashen countenance of her father. “My brother…?” Connor asked feebly, his trembling hand pressed tightly against his chest.
“He…died this morning, Dad; I’m so sorry….we’ll take care of everything, you won’t have to worry about — Dad? Daddy?!” As February spoke, Connor seemed to melt into himself until he was lying in a limp heap on the ground. Everything seemed to be happening in slow motion, yet far too fast for February to react at all. Instead, Martin Luther made his way across the kitchen and knelt by his fallen father’s side, carefully cradling Connor’s slackened hand with more gentleness than February had been aware her brother was capable of. After several tense moments, February tentatively called Martin Luther’s name; Martin Luther met her eyes and slowly shook his head. “Another one bites the dust,” he intoned solemnly.
Well, people, this is it. This is the moment right here that changed everything…although I guess you could say that it all really started after my mom died. You know, I never could quite recall my exact actions right after Martin Luther’s little pronouncement…I don’t know why I automatically went to Hector instead of Cameron, unless it was ’cause Hector was with me when Mom passed and so maybe I thought he could help me get through Dad’s death, too….I dunno. I guess it doesn’t really make any sense. I really didn’t mean for the rest of it to happen; I barely even remember the rest of it happening…I remember showing up at Hector’s house right after he got home from work….I remember crying a lot, thinking that he looked really great in his work suit, feeling guilty about thinking that, and crying some more. He convinced me to let him take me to the Bistro ’cause I was starving, and I felt guilty about that, too, because that would leave Martin Luther to take care of Dad all alone…but Hector reminded me that I had had to take care of Mom all alone, so it was only fair. And then….well, and then I asked him to spend the night with me. Well, not with me, but you know, at my house…I didn’t even want to go back, honestly, but I didn’t know where else to go…yeah, I know, this is the part where I probably should have called Cameron…I should have. I know. But I didn’t.
When we got to my place, it was all still and cold, and I honestly didn’t think Martin Luther was even home. I told Hector he could take Martin Luther’s bed, and then I got into the shower. When I got out, there was a light on in my parents’ room…I figured it must’ve been left on by mistake, but when I went in to turn it off, there was Hector, sleeping in my parents’ bed. See, Martin Luther was in his own room, but I didn’t know that, and Hector got confused and just went into my parents’ room instead. He didn’t know any better, but I totally freaked out. I woke him up, crying like some kind of psycho, and he tried to calm me down…and…I don’t know, one minute I’m crying, and the next minute he’s kissing me, and, and….well. I guess you probably can figure out the rest for yourselves.