Jeremy’s brothers were far from what Jeremy was like. So far in fact, adoption was a big joke throughout the family. Then the family sprung a leak and the joke ran around the neighborhood like the Nile. Now, though, you couldn’t tell them apart.
Tom was the oldest at 26. But just because he was the oldest it didn’t mean he was mature. He’s been thrown into jail a couple of times, generally for starting bar fights and street fights and God knows what else. He had short black rat’s nest hair and unevenly shaved stubble. The guy had so many scars (around his face and forearm to hand, alone!) that I didn’t know whether to feel safe or unsafe around him.
Axel was 25 and always picked a fist fight with Tom. Their aggressive energy fed off each other. Black hair, way less scars. He looked a lot more like Jeremy than Tom. All three brothers were skinny. All three lit up when they saw each other.
Then came Jane and Bobby. Bobby was rarely scene without a beer in his hand and white stubble around his face. Jane was the well-groomed, well-kept of all of them, if I had to choose. Jane was inexorably obsessed with the 50’s style for women, that she was always seen mimicking their style. Right down to the very T.
“Hey,” Tom grinned, appraising me up and down before going in for hug. “You’re looking good, Anna. Want to go out some time?”
“I’d love to, Tom, but I just don’t know what I’d do with a second asshole.”
Tom and Axel threw their heads back in laughter. “Nice one,” Tom said when he caught his breath.
“Absolutely,” Axel said through the hug.
If there was one particular aspect I liked about them, it was that I could do or say whatever I wanted, and we’d all still be friends. No hard feelings. Brushing dust off shoulders. Because of that, it was a pretty comfortable and, dare I say it, manageable evening. Okay, okay, I had fun!
Jeremy’s family didn’t live too far down the street, so at the end of the night I decided to walk him home. His family already went back to the house (his brothers expectantly ravenous; finishing up practically three-quarters of the bonanza), along with their parents.
Apart from my mom’s pressing, I decided to walk Jeremy home to show my appreciation. At one point he asked me if he was intruding on the evening, he looked worried. But, taking aside the occasional horrific flashback (which, my mom was right, I couldn’t exactly hold against the kid), he was totally fine.
“Damn the night is cold,” Jeremy said. “I really don’t mind walking you back.”
I smiled. “It’s totally fine.” I hooked my arm through his. “So long as you keep me warm.”
Jeremy grinned so brightly at my gesture; I was happy.
“You never told me what you’re doing now.” I said, squeezing his arm.
“Med school,” Jeremy rolled his eyes. “Takes a shit ton of time for half the price in the end. Trust the nerdy kid to go into science.”
I chuckled with Jeremy. “I think it suits you.”
“Yeah? I could be a sexy doctor and all.”
“Yeah, just don’t ask the girl if she has a penis.”
We laughed together. “In this day and age I probably should,” Jeremy lifted an eyebrow.
I nodded. “Good point.”
I was starting to feel a lot better. I might actually have to thank Mark later, and my mom. Just everyone. Happy thanksgiving!
“Well,” we stopped on the street, just before his house, “this is me.”
“Yeah,” I said, “it’s you.”
Jeremy stared at me for a moment, smiling. “I had a really good time tonight.”
I nodded. “Me too.”
“Thanks for walking me home,” he chuckled.
I grinned. “You’re welcome.”
“Well,” he said, “I guess there’s nothing left to do besides…”
He began leaning down towards me, paused for a moment, and then continued all the way until I felt his ice-cold lips on mine. Stupidly, I wondered how many girls him and his brothers used that line before, while growing up. Then I thought about how crazy it was that I was kissing my childhood annoyance right in the middle of the street. Who knew?
At this I laughed through my nose. I completely regretted it afterwards when Jeremy stopped kissing me, his lips still stuck to mine. Then he pulled away.
I bit down on my lip. “I’m so so sorry.”
“What are you laughing at?” he asked, concern in his eyes. Not a hint of humour anywhere.
I shook my head. “Nothing, I’m sorry, I just–”
“You were laughing at me, weren’t you?”
I widened my eyes for a split second. “No, no, it’s just–”
“Yeah, right! What are you going to say now? That you smell dog shit from kissing me? Oh, how original!”
Now I was genuinely horrified. “Honestly, Jeremy, that wasn’t even on my mind.”
“Whatever! Girls like you are so, so…argh!” he stamped his foot on the ground like a petulant child when he couldn’t find the words. So thankful for that considering I didn’t want to hear what they were.
“Jeremy, believe me, I wasn’t going to say anything about that.”
“Oh so you were deliberately hiding it from me? That’s even better!”
“What the—?” There was absolutely no winning with him.
“Eww, Jeremy’s got dog shit in his mouth,” he said in a mock-girl voice, flailing his arms around and dancing in a circle with his butt sticking out. “Eww, cooties! Eww! Eww! Eww!”
For a moment, neither of us could speak. Then Jeremy turned on his heel and stomped up the porch of his house.
“Mommy!” he wailed.
I remained frozen to the core, stupefied. Unable to process what I had just witnessed.
Mommy? I muttered, confusedly.
Then my cell vibrated in my pocket.
‘Was I right?‘ Mark texted. ‘Or was I right? I’ll be expecting my ‘thank you’ in the form of a superficial, perhaps materialistic gift, haha!’
I groaned and then stuffed my cell back into my pocket rigidly. There was no use replaying the entire situation in my head to figure out what the fuck just happened. But on the walk back home, I could do nothing else but just that.