Kaycee lives alone with her brother. She doesn't always enjoy it. CWN Exercise #2
Kaycee bounced through the front door of “The Suite”, as she referred to the tiny shambled studio apartment she shared with her elder brother. But as she draped her windbreaker and schoolbag onto her hook, she failed to observe that the baseboard lining the living room walls was coming loose, or that rust and old water marks stained the ceiling in the areas where the roof leaked each time a storm rolled in.
She took heed instead, of the small pile of dishes her brother had left in the sink, rinsed mostly clean – she had a full view of the tiny “kitchen” from the entryway – and the load of used textbooks that sat on his usual seat on their (slightly broken) old tan sofa. Paired with the fact that Darren had informed her in the morning he wouldn't be available to walk her home from the middle school she attended, the small observances told her that he hadn't had enough time to clean up after himself before needing to rush off unusually early to work.
Kaycee allowed herself a little smile. The pair of siblings had looked after one another for most of her life, and Darren worked especially hard to keep the two of them together, a family. She found herself more than willing to put off whatever pastime she had planned for her evening alone (after her homework, of course, as Darren's policy required), to pick up his leftover belongings and finish washing his dishes.
Darren's schedule ordinarily had him working late evenings, allowing him time to walk her home from school and eat dinner together, but the week had her eating alone while Darren worked through what he had called a “busy spell”. Whenever she couldn't spend the hours after school with her brother, she insisted that they still communicated, typically through a notebook left on the bathroom sink, where either would be certain to see it.
It had been this way a few days in a row and Kaycee was beginning to really notice her brother's absence. The hours felt longer, and the few games and toys she had drew in her interest substantially less. Often she wished they had a television, but knew Darren couldn't afford one. In the morning, before Kaycee set off for her first class, she had written her brother requesting that he grant her permission to spend one of her lonesome evenings with a friend, in the safety of their little apartment.
Before setting to work in the apartment she stepped into the bathroom to wash her hands and check if Darren had left the notebook out. When she saw that he had, she bounced back and forth on the balls of her feet while she flipped to the last page. But her bouncing ceased when she saw what her brother had replied.
The notebook was open to what had been a clean page, now blotted with ink smudges and Darren's messy scrawling.
“Are you out of your mind, Kaycee? I've told you a thousand times that our home is not a place to meet with your schoolmates. I am pleased you have acquaintances to socialize with while you are at school, but that is where you need to keep them, rather than bringing them unsupervised into my apartment. Furthermore, this city is not the kind of place I want my thirteen year old sister going about with her careless friends, so I do not want you going out without my expressed opinion. If you're bored, pick up a book.
I'm sorry I've been working late so many evenings, but the payout should be worth it. I'll take you out this weekend.”
Kaycee frowned. She hadn't told Jeremy and Reid, her two best friends from math class and the most clueless nerds she knew, that she wanted to meet with them after school, but her brother's note held little enticement for her to cancel her intended plans. She hardly acknowledged her brother's optimistic promise for weekend plans.
Kaycee glanced around her tiny home, and suddenly she did see the stains on the beige carpet, the cracks in the walls, the tattered curtains. Suddenly she thought she could see why Darren never let her have friends over. He was embarrassed. Strangely, she no longer felt like having them over either. But neither did she feel like cleaning up her brother's contribution to The Suite's ruddy state.
She left the notebook open on the sink so Darren would know she'd read it, and stepped back toward the entryway. After swinging her windbreaker over her shoulder, she gave one last glance at her shabby dwelling and ducked back out the door.