PART four: obr
Chapter 24: Family
“How about this place?” the SPRITE asked, stopping at a food truck.
“Sure. I’ve never eaten here. I’ll try it though,” OBR replied.
“Let me order for us in that case,” the SPRITE said.
OBR sat down on the grass and looked at the sky. He put the SKIMMA in his lap, and played with it, wondering if his sister often did the same. The SPRITE returned with two plates of food a few minutes later.
“Here you go,” the SPRITE said, as he sat down next to OBR.
“Wow!” OBR said, after taking his first bite. “What kind of a sandwich is this?”
“It’s called THE HOLLOW. The bread is basically hollowed out in the center, and spiced meats and vegetables are ground and mixed, and then stuffed into it, along with a few secret sauces. I’d never had anything like it either. One of the OSZA who regularly comes to my sermons brought me here once. I’ve been coming here every week without fail since then.”
“I can’t even… This is just…”
“I know, son. I know. I was speechless the first time I ate it as well.”
OBR leaned back and lay on the grass once he had finished his sandwich. The SPRITE was only halfway through his.
“So… tell me more about your sister,” the SPRITE said.
“What about her?” OBR asked, as he tossed the SKIMMA into the air, and caught it when it came back down.
“I know that you were close. I know that she looked out for you. But you told me that there was some tension between the two of you.”
“There was. My sister was a very angry OSZA. And there were certain things I wanted that her anger couldn’t get past. I don’t blame her for it though.”
“I know. Where do you think her anger came from?”
“Lots of places. My parents, and our childhood, for the most part. The world for the rest.”
“The world?” the SPRITE asked.
“Ya… We still don’t have equal rights, and we’re not exactly welcomed in a lot of places. Dating the same gender is a crime in many parts of the world. And we are considered to be deviants, and abnormal, in most of the places where it isn’t, even many of the so called democracies. Those kind of things were responsible for a lot of her anger as well. She didn’t like the fact that she was considered to be less than anybody else just because of who she preferred going to bed with. Neither did she like being considered inferior just because she was female. That angered her to no end as well.”
“I see. I get why she was angry with the world. And I understand where her anger comes from with regard to your parents. But how did that lead to tension between the two of you?”
“My sister wasn’t supportive of me trying to reconcile with my parents. She hated it. I managed to get her to be in the same room as my mother, but she hated every second of it. Hence the anger towards me.”
“Hmmm… What was it that made you want to reconcile with them?”
“I don’t know. I wish I did, but I don’t. Because if I did, I would have been able to explain it to my sister, and perhaps she would have been willing to follow the same path as well. But I never could. My mother just reached out one day, and I agreed to hear her out. I didn’t think about it in terms of whether I should or shouldn’t. It was just instinct.”
“Maybe you wanted to hear her out because you missed her?”
“Maybe,” OBR said, thoughtfully, as if it was something he already knew, but had been refusing to admit.
“And what happened after the first meeting?” the SPRITE asked, as OBR threw the SKIMMA into the air again.
“We talked. She apologized for it all, and told me that she wanted to get to know me, to find some kind of middle ground. She was honest. I think that is what really got to me. She didn’t sugar coat anything, including her mistakes. And she didn’t pretend to be fine with my sexuality. She told me, very clearly, that she was still uncomfortable with it, but wanted to find a way to look past it, and needed my help to do so.”
OBR continued, as the SPRITE took another bite of his sandwich.
“I didn’t forgive her instantly. It took me a long time to even come close. I don’t think I will ever forgive her fully. But we worked it out, slowly and steadily. There were ups and downs. There were misunderstandings and fights. But we made progress with each step. And we worked out a compromise. She got more involved in my life, and I got more involved in hers. I began going to her sermons with her. I began trying to understand her religion, and why she was so attracted to it. She began understanding my lifestyle, who I was, and what made me the way I was. My sister hated it all. She wanted nothing to do with my mother. She was sure that my mother would hurt me again, abandon me once more when I needed her most.”
“But such a day never came. My sister’s worst fears were never realized. That didn’t change her mind though. Perhaps her hatred was too far gone. Maybe she was in a place she could never come back from. I tried changing her outlook of it all though. I made her spend time with my mother, but it never truly went anywhere. Their interactions grew less hostile over time, but they never made any real progress.”
“I see,” the SPRITE said. “And what of your father?”
“What of him? He still refuses to talk to me. He didn’t even come for the funeral. My sister and me were dead to him a long time ago.”
“But you were willing to give him another chance as well?”
“I was, despite how mad it made my sister. I don’t think I can ever truly forgive him either, but I am willing to try and get past it all. He isn’t.”
“How is your father?”
“Better. Recovering. Sober. He’s been off drugs for a while now.”
“That whole mess is a sad, sad thing,” the SPRITE said. “Not that it takes any blame away from him.”
“Yeah. I think learning more about it all, the entire crisis I mean, helped me understand things to some extent. He had an accident, and he was prescribed a whole lot of addictive pain medication. And he was hooked. The medicines ran out, and there was no money or insurance, or a reason, to get any more. And so he substituted them with whatever was available on the streets. I will never understand how he chose drugs over his family, but I do know that addiction has a powerful grip on an addict. It isn’t easy to get away. But that doesn’t forgive him. My sister was right in that regard. He should have been strong enough to fight it. He should have loved his children more than his vices. And he didn’t. There is no excuse for that,” OBR said.
“There isn’t,” the SPRITE muttered softly.
“I get it though. He made a mistake. One that can never be fixed, or taken back. Like I said, I don’t know if I’ll ever forgive either of them, but I am willing to try and get past it. It’s fine if I’m unable to. I wouldn’t blame myself for failing. But I would blame myself for not even bothering to try. That was something I could never fully explain to my sister.”
“Perhaps you didn’t have to. She may not have let it on, but maybe she knew why, even if you didn’t,” the SPRITE said.
“I seriously doubt that. Doesn’t matter now anyway. We’ll never know,” OBR said, as he caught the SKIMMA.
“You know…” OBR said, once the SPRITE had finished his sandwich, “I often wonder how many other children went through something similar to what me and my sister experienced. How many more monsters did that crisis create?”
“It’s getting worse with each passing year. The pharmaceutical companies haven’t stopped making the pain medications addictive. And many doctors still prescribe them, despite knowing fully well what such pills can do to an OSZA once they no longer need to take them. What happened to you is happening in a lot of places in our country. It has destroyed a lot of families, and it only continues to do so,” the SPRITE replied.
“Slimy, greedy, unethical, fakuchin…” OBR began, before stopping himself. “Sorry,” he muttered.
“It’s alright,” the SPRITE smiled and said. “Don’t hold back on my account.”
“You can help some of them, you know,” the SPRITE said, a few minutes later.
“I don’t really earn enough to make a decent contribution,” OBR said.
“Money is not the only way to help, child,” the SPRITE said. “Why don’t you and your friends stop by the ANJALIKA later this week? We could always use a few extra pairs of hands.”
“Ok,” OBR replied, wondering what the SPRITE had in mind.
“It’s getting late, son. I think we should call it a day. Another sandwich for the road?”
“Oh, yes!” OBR said, as he threw the SKIMMA into the air one last time, before getting up and racing the SPRITE to the food truck.