Ahhh family dinners. It was my dad's requirement for each week (every day if it was possible). We had to all be together at least once a week, which was hard as it was. With eight kids and two parents, it was like trying to get every country to a UN meeting.
"Michael! Get your ass off that phone and to the dinner table! NOW!" roared my father.
I was already seated at the table, as were my parents and six of my seven brothers. My dad never gave Michael enough slack. He was married now after all. His wife Jeanine was home alone for the first time with their newborn son Kyle. He called often to make sure they were doing ok. My dad expected him to drop everything for family dinners. He didn't even live in the house anymore! I thought it was quite ridiculous.
The chair creaked next to me as Michael sat down. I smiled an apology to him. He smiled back, but it was stressed. My mom was the sensitive side of my parents.
She looked over at Michael, "How is Jeanine doing?"
"She's doing fine. Kyle's been behaving himself so far," Michael answered.
My mom's eyes twinkled and my dad interrupted, "Alexander, it's your turn to say grace."
All of our heads swiveled to where another one of my brothers sat. Alex bowed his head and said a short grace. We all murmured an "amen" at the end and began passing around food dishes. I grabbed the first dish from my brother Jonathan. It was ham, my favorite food. I took two slices instead of one like I was supposed to. I passed the dish on. After the ham came carrots, mashed potatoes, peas, and homemade cranberry sauce. It was like a Thanksgiving dinner, but my mom just made it all because it was Michael's favorite meal.
As I ate my dinner, I kept quiet and just watched my brothers talk. Lyman was whispering some joke to Jared, Brad was discussing soccer with Randy, Alex was telling Jon about something that had happened at school, and Michael was talking to my mom about Kyle. As I scanned the table, my eyes caught my dad's. He looked at me with blank eyes. He went back to eating and so did I.
You must be wondering, seven brothers?! Yes, it's true. Seven brothers. Would I lie about having seven brothers? I think not. Don't get me wrong, I love my brothers, but it would have been nice to have one sister. Technically, I should have three sisters. My mom had three other girls before me, but they all died. Two were late term miscarries and the other was a still born. When I was born alive, my mom called me a miracle. She always thought she was cursed against ever having a girl. Luckily, I was the strongest one, she said. Of course then, after I was born healthy, she thought she could have other girls, but she only had another boy. I was doomed to be the only girl.
To make things easier, I'll do a recap of my parents' life from when they met each other. My mom and dad met each other at a college party. They got engaged during their senior year. During that senior year, my mom became pregnant. She graduated before she gave birth though. They moved into an apartment right after graduation and then a month later, Michael was born. Six months later and they were finally married and my dad started his work at a private financial firm as an accountant. My mom stayed home. Michael grew to be about 2 years old when Jonathan was born. They started looking for houses. Fast forward another year and Lyman was born. They found a run down farm house with an old barn and lots of land. They moved in and my dad started the renovations. Another year went by and my mom miscarried her first girl. The next year and there was another miscarried girl. Two years later and a still born girl. My mom had lost all hope of having a girl and now was losing hope of having any more children in general. However, a year later, by accident really, Jared was born. It gave her new hope for having children, but the memory of her three lost girls kept her from having children. Three years went by and my mom tried again with support from my dad. She had twin boys which were Brad and Randy. Then a year later, a miracle happened. My mom told me when she first knew I was a girl, she burst into tears. She couldn't bear to lose another girl. She said it was as if God took pity on her and let me live. Hence, I, Codie, was born. My mom said she always liked the name Codie, it had the "ie" of a girl's name, but it fit well with my brothers' names. Any way, skip ahead yet another year and Alex was born. So if you put it all together in the world of the year 2009, you have my parents as being 51, Michael as 29, Jon as 27, Lyman as 26, Jared as 21, Brad and Randy as 18, me as 17, and Alex as 16.
Silverware began to fall flat as everyone finished their meals. My mind had become lost in the swirling pattern of the plate until my mom broke the trance.
"Codie, are you done eating?" she asked.
"Oh yea, I'm done," I said as I dropped my fork on to the placemat.
"How about dessert?" my mom said to everyone. "I made apple pies!"
She bustled into the kitchen just as my three oldest brothers began to mutter their complaints. My dad quickly put them to an end.
"Shut up you three! Your mother went through a lot of work cooking these pies. I expect you to stay and enjoy a piece," he stated with force.
"Dad, I told Erica I would be home by 8 p.m. It takes me an hour to get home and it's almost 7 p.m. already," Jon said.
"Well why don't you call her and tell her you'll be late," my dad said through clenched teeth.
My mom had returned from the kitchen and was laying out the warm pies in the middle of the table.
Her eyes twinkled as she spoke to my dad, "Oh it's alright Henry, Jonathan has his own family to attend to now, just like Michael and Lyman. You should be happy that they even take the time to come over here once a week."
My dad grumbled, "All I ask is for once a week. Is that so hard?"
"Dad, it's hard when you have a new born at home and your wife expects you to be there," Michael said.
"Yea and I'm supposed to be planning my wedding with Marisol," said Lyman.
"Fine! If you are going to be ungrateful, then just GO! LEAVE!" yelled my dad.
Everything went silent as Lyman, Jon, and Michael all left the dining room.
"What are you all staring at?!" spat my dad as we all stated at him in shock. "Eat your damn pie!"
The rest of us were afraid to even breathe as we nibbled at our pie slices. My dad didn't even touch his as he stood up and forcefully kicked his chair away from the table. He stomped out of the room. My mom swallowed apologetically as she nervously cleaned up other dinner dishes. Jared, Brad, Randy, and Alex all finished their dessert and scuttled off to their rooms. I sat poking at a gooey apple slice that had escaped from the surrounding pie crust.
"You don't have to finish that," my mom said as she waited to clean up my dish.
I hadn't realized my plate was the only dish left on the table. I let my fork drop and my mom snatched up the half eaten pie.
"I'm sorry I didn't finish it," I said. "It tasted great Mom."
"It's ok Codie, I know you can't eat when you get upset," she said.
I pushed my chair away from the table and ambled to my bedroom. My bedroom was small and was located at the right end of the upstairs hallway. The room closest to mine was where Jared stayed during summer and winter college breaks. He stayed in Michael's old room. He used to share a bedroom with Alex when he was at home all the time. The bedroom next to Jared's was Brad and Randy's. Across from Jared's was Jon's old room and across from Brad and Randy's room was Lyman's old room. At the other end of the hallway was Alex's room and across from his room was the upstairs bathroom. My parents had their bedroom downstairs below our bedrooms. That way they could hear if anything went amiss.
I opened my bedroom window and frowned. The vines that that crept up along the side of our house had now covered half of my window. I would have to have my dad trim them back again. I sighed, I didn't know when I could ask him though. He had to be in a good mood and that wasn't often. You'd think a father's biggest joy would be when his sons grew up, got married, and had children. But it seemed like my dad just wanted his sons to stay young forever. Even when Jon gave him a beautiful grandson named Chase, who was now 4 years old, and when Michael gave him a brand new grandson named Kyle, he just seemed more upset. I had a theory it was because now they had families of their own and not just the family they grew up with. I wasn't the only one with this theory though, everyone thought the same thing, but of course my dad would never admit that we were right. I could only imagine things getting worse as Lyman was going to get married in the Spring to his fiancée Marisol. My dad would say that it was his job that was stressful. He was an accountant, yes, but he had gone back to school several years ago to become a lawyer. He was a prosecutor for the state and was very good at what he did. It was because he was good at what he did, that we all knew it wasn't his job causing him problems.
I sighed again as the clock hit 7:30 p.m. It was still so bright out, but all I wanted to do was sleep. If it were winter and not summer, it would be dark out already. I could call one of my friends, that's was what summer was for right? Hanging out with friends? I don't have many friends though. My brothers sort of prevent me from having friends. They are very protective of me. It seemed like no matter how good of a friend someone became to me, we could only be friends at school because my brothers never approved. They always made up some excuse to get rid of them.
"That girl's tone of voice is condescending."
"She talks about you behind your back."
"She smells funky."
All of these reasons of course are lies. But they always have to tell these things to my friends' faces, saying that not only do they think these things, but I did too! Which results in me having no friends. It was aggravating. Friends aren't perfect and they don't have to be! My brothers didn't get that… even though their friends were no where near perfect. They just thought no one was good enough for me. I guess I should be flattered that they think so highly of me and want me to have great friends, but not when I don't have any friends outside of school. The standards needed to be dropped; their standards were for those who didn't exist. Every time I tried to tell them that however, they just made of some bogus reasons why a person was "seriously" not right for me. Half of the time I believed them, but then immediately regretted my choice when I again noticed my lack of friends. Now I had friends in secret whom I only talked to during school, but I couldn't let them be seen with me, otherwise I would have no more secret friends. The school only had a limited number of students and soon enough, the whole population would stay at least 10 feet away from me.
If you didn't think that was bad enough, just imagine my relationship with boys. Ok… maybe we won't. I don't think I want to revisit the bloody nose incident of 9th grade. Let's just say there was a really cute guy that my brothers thought was "too" interested in me. Needless to say, this guy was actually a super nice guy that got his nose broken for no reason. I'm still not sure if I've forgiven Jared for that. Right before my first school dance and everything. I, of course, tried to give Jared a taste of his own medicine, but only ended up making my hand hurt and him laugh. It was a ridiculous situation all around. Well, as you can imagine, the story floated around, becoming more exaggerated as it went, and it successfully kept all the boys away… which made my brothers very happy. I tried to express my anguish to my mom, but she only defended my brothers saying, "Oh, they love you Codie. They're just trying to keep you from getting your heart broken." Bah, what a crack-pot of lies. They only did it for their pure entertainment. They loved every minute of making my life miserable. Let them live even a day without friends and they would be going crazy. Try going years!
Well, like I said, I have school friends… ok ok… I have just one school friend. Her name is Cassidy. She knows all about my brothers and is brave enough to not believe everything they say. She's the bravest of the whole school apparently, which I find is pathetic. It's sad how no one else is brave enough to just look past my brothers' lying facades. I still never knew why Cassidy was my closest friend though. I annoyed her constantly. She always wanted to come over to my house or to face my brothers and stuff some insults down their throats. I would love to see her try… but that's just the thing. There were at least 3 of my brothers at home, and Jared went to school close by, so she would always be outnumbered. I told her I would tell my brothers about her, but I never wanted to have my brothers inevitably shout disapprovals about her… because I would end up believing them. It was either believe them and drop the friend or drop the subject and grow apart from the friend in order to please them. All in all, my life was a pathetic little bubble that I could never get out of… or tried too hard to really.
I was 17 now though, a Junior in high school. Cassidy always told me to grow up and tell off my brothers. I was just planning on waiting until college in some far away state where they couldn't reach me. That's an effective plan, right? I sighed as the sun began to set behind our neighbor's corn fields. I was never very good with expressing my feelings, using the sigh as my response to melancholy. A knock came upon my bedroom door, but I didn't respond. The almost constant melancholy feeling I had had wrapped its tentacles around me and was dragging me into the pits of the ocean. Maybe if it could just keep me there for once instead of teasing me by letting me surface and then dragging me down again later. Either drown me or don't. I didn't like the mixed temperature of the in between waters.
I could hear Jared's voice slipping around the closed door, "Codie? Can I come in?"
He didn't wait for my answer, but just let himself in, as he always did if I didn't answer.
"I didn't say you could come in," I said when I saw him appear into my room out of the corner of my eye.
He ignored by retort and sat on the side of my bed nearest me.
I kept my gaze upon the setting sun. "What do you want?" I said.
"Awfully bitter tonight, aren't we?" he said.
I shrugged, "Just jealous I guess."
He laughed, not even caring that I was serious, "That's ridiculous Codie."
I turned to glare at him, "Get out of my room." I turned back to the sunset.
His laughter and cocky smile vanished, "Geez Codie, what's your deal?"
My annoyance was plain in my voice now, "What's my deal?! My deal is that I have to be here every day with no friends and the Sun is millions of miles away with all the stars for friends it could ever want!"
"You have friends. You've got me and all us brothers."
"Oh yea, ok Jared, whatever you say. Now please get out."
I could hear him stand up, but he didn't leave, he came and stood by me at my window instead.
"Codie, look at me," he said. I did and he continued, "We're the best friends you're ever going to have. You just don't understand that everyone else is sub-par."
"God! You're such an asshole! What are you… jealous?" He snorted at this so I pushed on, "Afraid?" He tried to snort that answer off, but it wasn't convincing.
"You're afraid?" I said. Now I was the one laughing sarcastically. "What? You're afraid of your baby sister being happy? If I had a nickel for every one of your friends that were assholes, God I would be rich. You see… I think you've got this all mixed up. I think you're the one who needs supervision. I've never had friends try to break into your room when they were completely wasted. I've never beaten up the first girl to take an interest in you."
"Oh God, Codie that was two years ago! And besides, all that guy did was stare are you."
"Well, duh! He liked me Jared!" I was now gripping the edge of my window so hard that the paint was cracking and peeling beneath them.
"And as for the guy who tried to break into your room, he didn't because of me! And we're not even friends anymore!"
"Sure you kept him from getting into my room, but you brought him here… and were just as drunk as he was!" My voice had risen to shouting now. My hand slipped and a sliver stabbed its way into my middle finger… how appropriate, I thought.
My mom was now in the doorway of my bedroom, "What are you two yelling about in here?! Now you two need to quiet down right now or your dad's going to come up here."
We both shut our mouths and stood staring at our mom with our chests heaving.
She came into my room farther and stood next to us, "Now tell me what's going on."
"Nothing," Jared and I said at the same time.
I turned my head to look out the window at where the sun was disappearing and he did the same. Our mom held her arms crossed across her chest and left us alone in my room. As soon as she left, I walked away from Jared and fell onto my bed, promptly putting my face into my pillow. I wasn't going to cry, but if he said another word to me, I just might.
"Codie?" he said. I could almost hear the sincerity in his voice, but I didn't believe it.
I didn't answer and he sat on the edge of the bed next to me.
"Codie, you've got to understand. I've told you this before, and so have Brad and Randy… and even Alex. We're just trying to protect you," he said.
I rolled over to look at him, my eyes burning into his, "From what?"
"The people who don't treat you right. You're so nice Codie, that everyone takes advantage of you, whether you see it or not, your brothers do."
I put my face half into my pillow, "Can you just leave now Jared?"
He stood up.
"Oh and tell Brad and Randy that I don't want to talk to them either," I said. I had heard them sneak from their room and knew they were standing just outside of my room, listening.
Jared left my room and I curled into a ball, hoping to fall asleep soon.
Hey everyone! Hope you liked the first chapter of my new story! I know it starts off a bit slow, but trust me, it gets better! Much, much better! There is a lot to come, so watch for new chapters! Also, the title is subject to change most indefinitely. Thanks for reading and I would LOVE if you left me a review. :)