Andrew dropped himself onto a chair. “Throw us one of those, Lori.”
I did as he bid.
Mum bustles around the kitchen. Kent was off having a shower. The girls were watching television in the lounge room. It was nice to be back at home with the familiar, I sipped my cider with a smile.
“What were you and Alex whispering about?” Andrew blatantly asked.
“Who’s Alex?” Mum joined in on the conversation.
I rolled my eyes and moved from where I was standing beside the fridge to taking a space beside my brother at the table, giving him an elbow on the way. “The guy who dropped off some sheets of tin this evening.”
“And the guy she was flirting with.” He had a wicked grin. Asshole.
“I was being nice.”
“We heard you say babies and STI’s.”
Oh shit. I cringed and looked at mum. “It was joke. Don’t listen to Andrew, he’s just doing it to shit stir.” I directed my glare at him. “Shut up.”
“Why? I want to know what is going on with my sister, I am very concerned about her wellbeing.”
Oh fuck me, that was a lie right now.
“But you guys met at the pub the other week,” he added the last part, which shocked mum into dropping the spoon of spaghetti onto the floor. Leaping up, Andrew went straight to helping mum. “Sorry mum. I really am shit stirring her.”
That didn’t make her relax. “Lori, who is this boy?”
“He isn’t a boy, mum, we’re not in primary school. Anyway, he bumped into me at the pub and he apologised. There is nothing else to it.” Not that I wouldn’t mind if he wanted to message me and ask me out for dinner.
Not that that happened.
I was hoping.
At work, I kept my phone nearby in case he messaged. It sat on my desk near my computer mouse, my supervisor rousing on me for having it out and I accidentally grabbed it a couple of times instead of the mouse… in front of my boss and some clients.
At home, same deal.
The only place I didn’t seem to have it within grabbing distance was at the house while working. We were too damn busy putting the roofing on and stripping the weather board from the rest of the house and replacing it for my mind to ever wander back to that Alex dude. Nope.
I was watching where I was stepping so a nail didn’t go through my foot, remembering measurements so the next lot could be cut, and pushing hard so we could get as much done as humanly possible in one day.
Then the unthinkable happened. As we were getting to the final boards, just three away from finished, the three of us up ladders, Alice showed up.
I smiled at my sister-in-law. “Hey Alice. How’s it going?” Awkward. Very awkward.
“Alright. The house is coming together.”
“Sort of, There’s still a lot to do but we have to wait until I get the money in to do it.”
We nailed off the board. Andrew didn’t stop, he pulled out the measuring tape and started to run it along the empty space.
Alice remained on ground level waiting for us, or waiting for Andrew. I couldn’t be so rude. “Break time,” I called out.
Even Kent looked at me like I was crazy. “But we have two more rows to go and the house is done.”
“Well,” think Lori, think of an excuse that isn’t going to start a family feud. “Oh fuck it. Andrew, go and talk to your wife, this is just plain rude and mum will be disappointed in you for treating family like that.” I climbed down the ladder and headed straight for indoors.
The door didn’t slam after me.
I spun round and spotted Kent standing in the way. “Kent…”
“Shhh. I’m trying to hear the gossip.”
“Oh, for fuck sake, you’re worse than the old dudes in the shopping centres… and you’d hear more from the bedroom that they’re outside of.” I hurried to the room in question. Along the top, where the gyprock was missing, a little bit of daylight was visible and voices could be heard clearly. I rested my head against the wall studs.
Kent did the same.
“Andrew… how are you?”
“Fine.” He responded tensely.
“Can we talk about this?”
“We’ve said all that has to be said.”
“Oh come on, you’re being unfair.” She snapped.
“Yeah. Like you’re the only one affected.” She clarified.
“Alice, you had an abortion without telling me.”
“It’s my body.”
“We’re a couple.” He argued.
Alice paused. “I didn’t want you talking me into keeping it.”
“It could’ve been a boy.”
“Is that all you want from me? A boy you can teach how to play football and carry on the family name?”
He didn’t say anything.
“No, tell me, do you even care for our girls or are they filling in the time until you can have your precious boy?”
“Shut the fuck up! I love our girls and I don’t care that they’re not boys. That doesn’t mean a fucking thing, look at Lori. She was raised like us guys, working with us. The one who wishes she never had kids to hold her back is you.”
Alice didn’t respond.
“Yeah, be honest, wife. If you didn’t have to take off the time to have the babies you would be further ahead. If you didn’t have to stay in this town so they could go to school and be near my family, you’d be gone to the city and jetting off. I’m the stay-at-home dad because I love them. You’re the working mother because you can’t stand them.”
“Andrew you asshole. You know that none of that is true!” I screamed, my blood boiling over.
The couple outside fell silent.