“Why you can’t just tell it?”
“’Cause I afraid nuh.”
“Afraid of what, Silvi? It ain’t like nobody ain’t know already. Everybody gossiping up a storm behind your back. That’s the way of these folks ’round here. And what you gonna do ’bout it? What you gonna say? Tell it, sis. Tell all of it.” Brent pushed back in the rickety old chair, his behind finally balanced over a hole in the wicker seat, which at any moment looked set to bust loose sending his ass straight through to the floor. Through a hole smaller than the one Silvia Trent currently ended up being chucked into, but a hole nonetheless.
“All people is know, is dat I pregnant. And, that’s only ’cause that loud mouth Lian jumped fence. She ain’t know a damn ting ’bout loyalty… forget friendship. I ain’t never had no friend outside uh you, and you is my brother, so you don’t count. You got to put up wid me. But talk ’bout loyalty? When Lian gone shooting off her mouth ’bout tings she don’t understand? Well, that burns something terrible in here, I can tell yah.” Silvia wrung out her damp face-cloth over the sink and wiped the back of her neck, her other hand falling to the small of her belly. A bulge, no bigger than a shaddock, all hard and sticking to the front, made her old dingy grey T-shirt look as if she was hiding a football underneath.
‘It’s funny how the weirdest memories come popping into your mind at the funniest times’, Silvia thought, remembering how she used to enjoy teasing Brent. She would sneak up on his boys football session, which they treated like serious business. They had teams, goalies, a ref all carved out in their mind’s eye, like it was flippin’ Wembley or somein’ and not the dusty dirt, with two sticks marking goal, and crazy cross-eyed Johnny, as ref, busy bending the rules of the game like sugar cane in a strong breeze.
Silvia smiled at her broken reflection in the mirror, her puffy red eyes, her sunken cheek bones from too much vomiting, unable to hold down much of anything. She could hardly recognize the face. Everything high had been set low, like a just metaphor.
She used to love life, be the center of attention, especially laughing at the innocent dreaming of her little brother’s friends. Scoff at it actually. ‘I mean, who dared to dream like that out here, on the edge of tropical nowhere? In this place, where there never felt like there was any way out in sight.’
They didn’t call it Pratt’s Bottom for nothin’….
Silvia knew it was damn-right cruel to burst her brother’s bubble. She had been raised by Gran to know better, to rise, but she’d got caught up in playing the big woman, older and wiser beyond her tender years.
She had a right to laugh at their football antics, stealing the ball at times and popping it under her shirt for a tease. ‘Look who got baby, eh? Who gonna come and get it?’
The boys would freeze, watching Silvi parade around and swing her hips provocatively, like she was on a catwalk or auditioning for a part in a play. Silvia loved to act. Her pride told her, she had the whole world and everyone in it at her feet, everything figured out.
“So tell it,” Brent jolted her back to the present. “Shame the whole lot of dem into knowing. Then they’ll all have to live wid it,” he pleaded, standing and turning his sister’s shoulder so her eyes met his.
“I can’t do dat,” Silvi mumbled, raising a hand to her brother’s cheek, her touch light, barely a caress, as if she was admiring a much loved sculpture for the last time.
All Silvi could think about was how important her brother was to her, how, besides Gran, she was the only real purity she’d known. When Gran passed, Brent was five, Silvi , thirteen. The supposed estranged Aunt whose care they were left in, did nothing much in their direction, and so Silvia had raised her brother and done the rest alone.
“Sixteen years old,” she muttered in awe, staring at Brent as if she was still seeing him anew, her eyes wide and slightly bulging, swollen from many hours of crying. He had grown tall, with the same smooth dark brown skin as her own and endearing almond shaped eyes. Although still a boy, with ample height and broad shoulders, he was occupying a man’s body.
“Tell dem,” he implored her in a whisper, noticing fresh tears fill the rims of her eyes.
“Tellin’ ain’t gonna make things better. It will make things a whole lot worse. Let me go, B. Let me take my cross and bear it,” Silvia gulped down a sob, her heart aching under the strain. She never experienced a physical heart-break before. Now, she knew what that shit felt like. It was real.
Silvia watched Brent’s face fall.
Poor Brent. His heart and his head still clung to a belief in the honest goodness of human nature. Silvia had called his optimism stupid. Countless times. But she couldn’t do that any more. Brent was the dearest brother and sweetest soul she’d ever known. No one wanted to hurt him, but everyone was out to get her. So, what had her uppity pride served her in the end?
Silvia didn’t buy Brent’s take on life, but the facts of their current very divergent situations spoke for themselves.
Brent was still a treasure, a fountain of goodness.
Maybe if I hold him close enough, all the darkness I have inside would dry up under the brightness of his sun.
Maybe, but not likely.
The village were out for blood. Tongues were wagging. If they were dogs, they’d be frothing at the mouths. The local Pastor had been disrespected, his family and name had fallen into disrepute.
God help the poor soul responsible fuh dat. Lawd have mercy…
God help Silvia.
Silvia blinked down a tear, feeling the pain of too much crying sting her eyes. Brent wiped it, drawing his sister to his chest and locking her in his arms.
“There can be no justice here, Brent,” Silvi croaked, her cheek pressed to the warmth of this chest. “Not when the man who works for God broke my heart and is responsible for all my torment. Everybody loves him. I know you feel my philosophy been all wrong, but one thing I ain’t yet ready to throw out. And, that’s this. People will always turn a blind eye to what they don’t care to see. Especially if the person is loved, popular and a pillar of the community. Ain’t ever going to be no pleasure in a position like mine. I is damned if I do and damned if I don’t, and ready to carry my sorry ass somewhere where no one knows or cares ’bout my supposed damnation, you feel me?”
Brent’s arms tightened a little more around his sister’s slender frame. “It ain’t fair.”
“How many times I gotta tell you, B? There ain’t nothin‘ ’bout life dat’s fair.”
© 2017 L. S. Bergman