I wrote this some time last year and for some odd reason, sat on it.
Today, decided to serve it up!
Enjoy!

BROTHER’S KEEPER

Smack Smack Smack
I wish she’d stop chewing for a second, though i can’t help watching her jaws in morbid fascination as they crunch hard on the piece of bright pink gum lodged between her teeth.
Smack Smack Smack.
I extend my observation to her.
Fingers drumming on the table, nails bitten to ugly stubs coated with old black varnish. I can hear her foot beating a staccato on the terrazzo floor of the coffee shop, scuffed trainers probably dancing to the beat only their  owner can hear.
Her bottle-black shoulder-length hair hangs wet and lanky with grease; she’d stop her drumming on the table once in a while to flick the dirty matt around an ear. Staring at the purple, blue blotches on her skin, I wonder where the porcelain complexion I used to admire long ago went to.
Her worn leather jacket sleeves aren’t long enough to hide the scratches and the needle marks that blazed trails up her arms. I wonder why she bothers hiding it from me. I mean, everything else gives her away for what she is.
A tattoo peeks momentarily from her dirty grey shirt, across her chest before disappearing. Her grey eyes look like they belong in the sockets of someone older by decades.
Her thin, cracked, bloodless lips fire on; chewing horridly.

Smack Smack Smack.
She is the poster child for Decay.
An unlit thin cigarette is cradled in the crook of her ear and her hand keeps straying to the poison tube, fiddling with it.
There is a no smoking policy here so she can’t light up.
Thank goodness
She takes the unlit cig stick and shoves it in her mouth.
I watch in disgusted fascination as she replaces the vacant space on her ear with the sticky chewing gum, making sure it’s glued on properly.

I’ve seen enough.
Best make this snappy then.
“So…” I begin, licking my lips anxiously.
“Cut to the chase. Got the cash?” she says, finger back to their drumming. If only she’d hold on to the bloody cup and stop the noise.
I purse my lips in slight disapproval, sausage fingers tightening on the coffee-filled Styrofoam cup I cradled more for comfort than as beverage.
“No need to be so rude about that.” I start slowly. “Whatever happened to what I gave you weeks ago?”
Her eyes takes a nasty glint and immediately, I drop my cup, raising my hands up in surrender.
“Just asking…”
She eyes me, tongue rolling the cigarette stick in her mouth. “I used the money you gave me earlier wisely. Dun go thinking I blew it on drugs and shit. Paid some of my dues init!”
She glares at me, waiting for the smallest sign of my doubt.
Keeping a blank face, I nod my head. Dues to her suppliers more like.
Seeing I am raising no arguments, she smiles, revealing brown teeth…and a cavity I am sure hadn’t been there when we last spoke.
I sigh, sagging visibly on my seat.
These meetings are always painful. Who’d have believed my older sister would end up this way?
She had been the star of the family.
The perfect one; while I was the clumsy one, unusually big for my age.
Cruel, beautiful Angie.
She had been loved.
So had I, of course but my parent’s doting on her had bordered on reverencing.
Mum would not hear my complaints about her meanness when we were children. She’d look beautifully sad, denying my every accusation. It was incredible to watch sometimes. Heck, I almost even believed her!
She was that good an actress.

Sadly, I loved her.
She was mean yes, but I loved her. I wanted to be like her; to have her smile at me truly, not the smiles she wore when she threw her mean jibes at me. I wanted her to acknowledge me for once. Was that too much to ask?
I guess she had been OK…until our parents died in a freak car accident. She had been 18 then, an adult. I was still 12.
We had moved in with our middle-aged spinster of an aunt, a strict Catholic; that attribute doing nothing but fuel Angie’s rebellious nature.
Maybe that had been her way of coming to terms with what happened to us; the boys, the alcohol. I took solace in food. I somehow managed to survive the trauma; Angie didn’t.
One of her boyfriends introduced her to the white stuff. She went on the deep end and never came out.
Sigh
“What exactly do you need this money for now?” I ask carefully, bringing myself back to the present.
Keeping my tone respectful is the only way to get her to respond like a civilised being. She’s always been the volatile one. Every little question is a slight to her honour; an implied insult.
“What you mean? Have to fix up my house init?” she spits back at me.
“But you live in a council flat…oh.” I realise too late what I have done.
Her lips go thinner, nose flaring.
She leans in menacingly and I instinctively lean back. “You think i like collecting handouts from you?!”
‘Yes, you fucking bitch!’ In my head of course…
“…Just getting myself settled. Written a new poem. Gonna sell it if the cunting bastards take my work then I’ll be fucking rich and you can shove that money up your fat ass!”
I cringe slightly at her raised voice, glancing apologetically at other diners giving us side glances.
“I’m just asking…”I mutter weakly, trying to placate her.
“Then fucking shut up fattie! I’m the only family you got. You can go on workin’ in tha fancy law firm of yours but ya know dey gonn fire you if dey find out bout me. So be a good bitch and give me DA MONEY!
She slams her hand hard on the table and I jump, startled.
Oh dear; She needs her fix.
Her hands are shaking, a nervous tick doing a tap dance on her eyelids.

I take a deep breath.
Pounding headache.
I squeeze my temples.
She is right, sadly. She could easily get me to lose my job by just by turning up at the firm. I would not put it past her to do something like this out of spite one day. I bring out my bribe from the fold of my wallet and throw it on the table.
“Take the money. Take it and leave please” I whisper, suddenly weary.
“Took you long enough”she mutters, counting the wad of twenties i dropped.
“This is gonna be enough for now. I’ll come over if i need more.”
She gets up and walks a few steps before returning.
She sits back and glares at me.
“You think you’re better than me because you helping me right? I might be a mess now, but i am still better than you, Fattie Katie!”
That hurts.
I hate that name.
“Still hiding pork ribs under your pillow, fattie? Still stuffing ya fucking mug like a pig you are?”
She cackles as my breath hitches, becoming laboured. I feel the discreet stares of other diners, ears tuned in to her tirade and I redden with shame.
“Look. I have given…”
“Shut up fat ass!” she screams and I bite my lips hard as I feel my eyes smart with tears.
She knows she’s hit a mark and with a grin of satisfaction, she gets out of her seat and leaves.
I blink back tears of frustration as I watch her cross the road even before the green man comes on, narrowly avoiding being hit by a car.
For a savage moment, I wish her dead. I wish a car would hit her, slamming her broken body onto a pavement, breaking her head and spilling her brain matter in a  gory display.
I bite my lips as she goes out of my line of sight.
I hate myself; I hate myself for being weak, succumbing to her threats but what can I do?
She’s got my by the proverbial balls.  The only reason I still have a job is because of my brains. People my size are apparently not ‘good for the firm’s image’. Any slight upset, and it’s a good bye.
I hate myself for supporting her habits but I can’t let her just…starve or be a hooker…
I grimace as I taste the coffee left in my cup; tepid.
It is time to leave and I try to heave my bulky self off the seat. My seat groans loudly in protest and one or two people look my way, watching my struggle to remain ‘dignified’.
I hear a soft snigger.
‘Laugh why don’t you? Bastards!’
They’ve always laughed, haven’t they?
The whole world laughs at fucking Kate, don’t they?
I smile grimly as I finally manage to stand.

My hands quickly search my bag as I leave and I am comforted by the feel of the jumbo potato chips pack in there.
Sometimes, I wonder who got the better deal, between my sister and I.
Who would die first?
Angie and her drug problems?
Or me and my addiction to food?

The End.

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One question on my mind, how far can we go for family?
Honestly, tell me.
And comment on the story!
Hope you all have a lovely weekend break!
Jana.

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