In The Shadow Of His Nemesis
Chapter Fifty Two
BY AL BRUNO III
Wednesday November 20th 1996
“...you’ll get used to it.” Angie said.
“I doubt that.” Isobel said.
“You can get used to just about anything when you’re safe and well fed.” Sig commented from the far end of the solarium.
Angie and Isobel were sitting together on an overstuffed couch; Isobel was sketching, Angie was watching. Homesickness had prompted her to begin drawing faces from her past, each one had a story and Angie wanted to hear every one. Sig hadn’t really been paying attention, at first he had been content to just sit beside them and methodically devour an entire coffee cake. When that was done he had gone to rest his head against the cool glass of the window.
“Is he all right?” Isobel had asked.
“Oh yeah.” Angie said. “He just likes the sensation.”
“Now I want to ask and you don’t have to answer but you and your brother never talk about your parents very much. Aren’t worried about them? Don’t you miss them?”
Isobel had been sketching some of her least favorite teachers, she looked up from her work feeling a twinge of ...something. “It’s complicated,” she said.
“When I was a kid we were an awesome family. We went on trips, we laughed, we played together and then I don’t know. It seems like everything went into the shitter when I turned into a teenager and my parents hit middle age,” Isobel said. “If you look at our photo albums... The pictures just stop after a while. It’s like my family just stopped existing and suddenly we were these people that didn’t even like each other very much but were stuck living together.”
Angie nodded, “That sounds awful.”
“I wish I could explain what went wrong,” Isobel said. “But I don’t know what went wrong. There were no drug problems or abuse or anything. It just happened.”
“You blame yourself don’t you?”
Isobel paused, she had never really thought of it that way, what could she have done to keep her brother from turning into a trainweck? To keep her father from turning into a disinterested lump on the couch? To keep her mother from turning in to stone?
“I don’t know,” she said.
“Does it bother you that you’re probably never going to see them again?”
“I don’t know,” the train of conversation had led Isobel to try and sketch out her Mom. Why isn't she couldn't draw that familiar face wearing a smile? “God I sound like such a terrible person don't I?”
“No, my father and I gave up on each other a lifetime ago. Maybe its where we grew up.” Angie's hand drifted to her stomach and gave it a little squeeze, she grimaced like she was holding in a belch, “I wonder if it has something to do with where we grew up?”
Isobel laughed a little, “Yeah, things are so boring in Albany that we have to make our own drama.”
“After a few months you'll start thinking about that drama as the good old days.”
Sig started to chuckle, he turned away from the window.
“What’s so funny?” Angie asked.
The front door crashed open and Magwier headed up the stairway, he was soaking wet and covered in snow. “Oh,” Angie said, “I do see.”
They all laughed a little. Isobel barely knew the man but just a few days of his cryptic behavior had left her wanting to push him into a snowbank herself. They way he seemed to nag after Galen, the way he kept calling her Lilly and giving her pitying glances; it had all gotten very old very fast. She wondered idly if someone could be kicked out of Laurel House like they did with that Puck guy from The Real World.
“Hey all,” Warren walked into the room carrying a half-full glass of wine.
“Good evening.” Sig frowned, “They’re getting into the damned cigars again aren’t they?”
“Is this my brother?” Isobel said, “I thought he had disappeared.”
“Hey now,” Warren settled down into one of the soft leather chairs, “I've looked for you plenty of times.”
“Well...” Angie stood, Sig was instantly at her side, “I think dinner didn’t agree with me, I’m going to lie down. Come on Johnny let’s give these two a chance to catch up.”
“What's to catch up?” Warren said as they left, “We're just getting laid on opposite schedules.”
“Well it's true isn't it?” he said. “We're having these crazy love affairs in the middle of all this... craziness.”
They were alone in the solarium now, everyone else seemed to be in their rooms or congregating in the library for cigars and chess. “Do you love her?” Angie asked.
“Do you love him?” Warren asked with a smile.
“God yes!” Isobel said, “I've never been with anyone like him.”
“Well, what about you?”
He stared at his ruined hands, “Well Dad always said that I would fall in love with the first one that lays me.”
“You were a virgin?” Isobel's half-shout echoed against the glass panes. The conversation in the library suddenly stopped.
“Nice one,” Warren said.
“Sorry.” she was blushing on his behalf, “But you surprised me.”
Warren waited for a while before speaking again, “She isn't really my first. But was the first time I didn't feel like I was making a fool of myself...”