I should start with the simple facts about myself. My name is Cynthia, I just turned eighteen, the day before my high school graduation as a matter of fact. My father left our family ten years ago, something that my mother can never forget. My mom is wonderful, but lately has been distracted with carrying on a full time job. I have a brother, John, who is ten months older than me.
John and I have always been close, well, not always... It was really just since dad had left. John had become my brother and my best friend, and in many ways my dad. I enjoyed the company of my big brother when our mom was out. Which happened to be most of the time. She had gone from housewife to single working mom and wasn't around much anymore. We were close to her though. We had to be. It wouldn't have been right for John and I to have been bratty teenagers to her, not when she was working so hard for us.
I woke early on Saturday morning. John and I were both pretty strung-out with finals week having just finished at school. And mom was, well, to be honest I rarely know how she really felt. She had been working late the previous night and was probably still asleep. I probably should have been asleep still too. It was seven-oh-clock on a Saturday morning for heaven's sake.
Still, I was up and wasn't going to be getting anymore sleep for the time being. I blearily walked downstairs to the kitchen and reached for a water glass. I leaned against the sink and looked into our backyard that was being gradually filled with light. I loved our back yard in the morning, the sun always made the grass look particularly green. The day promised to be warm, but it still looked like it was chilly in the morning sun.
I searched around the cupboards for a suitable breakfast and found that I was running dangerously low on Lucky Charms. "Get mine out too," said John who and trudged into the kitchen wearing his pajama pants and rubbing sleep from his eyes.
I complied and tossed him his box of Coco Puffs. "What are you doing up so early?" I asked. I pulled the bowls and milk out and set it on the counter.
"I gave up the idea of more sleep when you went thundering past my room and down the stairs," he complained, pouring himself his breakfast.
"I was not thundering!" I said indignantly.
"Call it what you like. It was loud."
"You can sleep through anything," I defended myself.
"I crashed when I got home from school yesterday, so I think I was pretty ready to be awake."
"You're such a loser. What self respecting nineteen year old boy goes to bed at four-oh-clock on a Friday night?"
"You're one to be talking about being a loser. You did nothing last night, just sat around by yourself. You should get yourself some friends."
"I have plenty of friends, thank you very much," I said huffily.
"Why don't you have a boyfriend, Cyn?" he asked.
I shrugged. I hadn't gone out with a boy since my freshman year. Maybe he was right and I was a loser. I guess I had just been a bit stressed out with school and mom, I hadn't thought much about boys. Okay, I actually had thought about them, quite a lot, but not actually done anything about going to get one. I found out pretty quickly that most guys my age weren't interested in romance and I wasn't really sure if I was just interested in sex. Well...I was very interested in sex; I just wasn't sure who with. "Guess I just haven't found one yet," I mumbled.
"I think they have found you though," he pointed out mischievously. "Come on, what about Alex? I think he's into you."
"He has a girlfriend."
"I'm too smart for him."
"God John, don't you think it would be a little bit awkward to go out with someone with the same name as my brother?" I said exasperatedly. He shrugged. "Why is it such a big deal anyway?"
"You should get out more, that's all. 'Sides, you not bad looking, it wouldn't take much work to find a guy."
"What a compliment," I said sarcastically, "Well, I'm glad I'm not bad looking."
"Okay little sis, you're really pretty. Is that better?"
I brushed away the compliment shyly. "You're one to be talking. Why don't you have a girlfriend then?" I shot back.
"I have my hands full with my two lovely ladies at home; I doubt I could handle another one."
"Because mom and I are so much work," I said sarcastically.
"You're not and that's the best part. I get stuck with women who need me and they don't need a thing in return," he laughed, smacking me on the butt on his way to the dishwasher.
"You think you're such a lady-killer..."
"Because I know I am!" he said, grinning deviously as he left the room.
I shook my head exasperatedly. Good-looking men were always such bastards. Okay, my brother wasn't a bastard, not really. Actually, if more guys were like him I'm pretty sure there would be a lot less women like mom. Yes, dad was a bastard in my opinion, but I don't think mom had made the best choices either. I don't think getting pregnant when she was nineteen was such a good idea, but that was none of my business.
I went back upstairs and looked for something to wear. It was a Saturday morning, why was I even looking at clothes? I went to take a shower. I would decide what to wear when I was done.
Once I was thoroughly refreshed and clean I went back to my room. I put my underclothes on and found a shirt that would be suitable. John burst into my room. Okay, he didn't really 'burst', he actually just walked in. The thing was that at standing at six foot two, he just kind of took up space.
"God John, what's your problem? Ever heard of knocking?" I said, frustrated by his intrusion. At least I was wearing a shirt and panties but it still made nervous.
I didn't have body issues or anything like that. I actually was pretty satisfied with how I looked. I was about five six, slim but not anorexic. Unlike most California girls my age I wasn't eager for a boob or nose job. I was a happy 30C and wasn't interested in having back problems because I wanted plastic DDs or whatever the attraction was. More importantly, I didn't feel the need to have superficial men, like dad, attracted to me because I had big boobs.
"Yes, I have heard of knocking but I naturally assumed that you were decent because your door was a jar," he said defensively.
I shifted and reached for my shorts. "So what do you want?" I demanded.
"Oh, I was just going to tell you that I going to take you to a movie this afternoon and on our way home we are picking up a pizza," he said, "And I'm not asking you. I'm just telling you ahead of time."
"Okay. I agree to my kidnapping," I said. There were worse things in life than being forced to go to a movie with your brother. "Now get out." I pushed him to the door.
I was grateful for the relaxing day. It promised to be a decent weekend too. The teachers had spared us weekend homework after finals and the next week of school promised to just be movie watching and yearbook signing before graduation. I relaxed and basked in the sun until it was time to see the movie.
I didn't pay much attention the movie. It was just nice to be out of the house. After soaking up the sun for a good part of day it was also nice to be someplace dark and cool.
Two hours later we were released from the movie and back into the sun, talking lazily about the movie. We walked to pick up our pizza. Even though it was only four-oh-clock we would take it and bake it at home. We grabbed a movie while we were waiting for them to make it. I blushed furiously when I noticed the extremely cute boy behind the counter glancing at me a few times. I ignored him as we tried to find a movie.
I ignored him till he came over to us anyway. "Can I help you with anything?" he asked. He looked to be about our age. Your typical cute sandy haired surfer that seemed to be so stereotypical of southern Cali, and yet never failed to charm you. I shook my head and looked away. I always got nervous when boys checked me out, which is certainly what he was doing.
"I don't know, Cyn, can he help you with anything?" asked John, who I think was greatly enjoying my embarrassment.
"No," I said quickly. "Shut up!" I elbowed John as he started sniggering as soon as the boy left.
"Come on, what was wrong with him? You thought he was cute, I know you did, and he was checking you out. You could have flirted with him, or at least have said more than 'no'."
"Shut up," I said again.
"You're scared, aren't you?" he teased. "Of course you don't have the guts to talk to him."
"Alright, fine!" he had provoked me. "If flirting is what you want, then that is just what you'll get." I stomped away from him. I changed my stomp to a sway as a neared the counter where the boy sat sullenly. "You know, I think I do need help with a movie," I said to him with a broad smile.
"Sure," he said, jumping up, "What are you looking for?"
"Um, I was thinking a good romance would be nice..." I bit my lip endearingly.
"Something cute to watch with your boyfriend?" he asked, glancing toward John who was standing where I left him. I noticed how he tactfully was trying to find out if I was single.
"Oh him?" I asked coyly, looking at John. "No, he's only my brother. I'm not really looking for cute. I was thinking more along the lines of passion..." I crossed my arms in a way that I knew made my cleavage double.
His eyes flicked to my chest. I guess he noticed too. "I can do passion, I mean," he blushed, "I can find it," he said quickly, "If that's what you want." It was nice to know that someone was more awkward than me when talking. I took some movie he gave me without really paying attention and paid for it. "I hope that works," he said.
"Thanks so much," I said enthusiastically as I took the movie. "See you around."
"You will," he agreed.
Maybe John was right and flirting really wasn't too bad after all.
John scowled down at me when I walked up to him. I smiled smugly. "Told you I could," I bragged.
"Pull your shirt up, you're practically flashing the world," he muttered.
I looked down. I wasn't anywhere close to exposing myself, and it was the same as when we had left the house before the movie. I pulled it lower to spite him.
"You didn't think I would do it did you?" I asked. He didn't respond so I continued. "Well, I think you have a point. I should start seeing guys again. And I really liked that guy, Nick, in the movie store, so I think I'll talk to him again," I gushed with more enthusiasm than I felt. I was really just pushing for a reaction from John.
"I was just kidding. You're a strong girl. You don't need a guy."
"Are you going all protective older brother on me now? After telling me to do it?"
"Yeah, maybe I am. I don't like how he was looking at you," he said, and made it very clear that the conversation was over.
When we got home John skulked around avoiding me. I put the pizza in after a while and he was lured out of his room by the smell eventually. It's amazing what food will do to a guy. He appeared to be in a much better mood and he sat at the counter, eagerly awaiting the pizza.
He went to the pantry and got out a bottle of red wine and opened it. "What do you think you're doing?" I asked sternly. I watched the cork come out with a pop.
"Well, I think I'm drinking some Chianti, what does it look like?" He took a look at the label. "Yep, I think that is exactly what I'm doing," he confirmed. "Want some?" He got out glasses.
"What about mom?" I asked. It's not like I'd never had a drink before, but this felt different. Apart from the occasional champagne on Christmas, I never drank at home.
"She's not home. I talked to her before we left actually; she said she'd be out late tonight."
I wasn't worried about her missing the bottle. We had quite an extensive selection of wine in our house. My mom's guilty indulgence. "Alright then," I agreed. "I guess it is celebratory... what with finals done and all."
"Exactly my thoughts. Cheers," he said, handing me a glass. I pulled the pizza out of the oven and put it on the stove. "Oh man I'm hungry," he said staring at the pizza longingly while I cut it.
"You're always hungry," I sighed. It was like teenage boys could eat everything in sight and still be hungry. Unbelievable. "You look comfortable; I'm going to go change," I decided.
The early June heat turned crisp at night and I pulled on my sweatpants and a tank top, hoping to curl up under the blanket on the couch.
"I don't know why you always insist on wearing sweatpants," sighed John when I joined him. He was grabbing plates and napkins.
"What the hell is wrong with sweatpants?" I asked. "They're comfy."
"But you have pretty legs; you need to show them off more."
"It's eight at night and you're the only person around me right now, I don't think it really matters."
"What, so I don't matter? You don't care about dear old brother?"
"Of course I do, but you're just teasing."
"I'm not. I got the most beautifulest sister and mommy alive."
"Lucky man," I smiled as I put in the DVD. He was right, he was a lady-killer. The phone rang before I could sit down. I answered and heard my mom on the line.
"I have a conference," she said, "It's last minute but I have to go," she explained.
"Of course, where is it?" I asked. My mom worked in sales and was always going on quick call conferences.
"It's in Las Vegas, baby. It's a four and a half hour drive."
"Okay mama, when will you be back?"
"Would you and John be okay if till Monday on your own?"
"Of course we will."
"You won't... burn the house down or anything?" she asked. We had a really nice house. Just because my mom was working full time didn't mean we weren't well off. She just had to work hard to keep it.
"Hmm, I don't know..." I teased. "Johnnie, are we going to burn the house down while mommy's away?" I asked him.
"Damnit, it was going to be a surprise!" he said, pretending to be disappointed.
"He said it was going to be a surprise," I reported back to mom. "You just spoiled your welcome home present."
"Oh darling, I'm so glad you two get along. I don't know how I could have survived having normal fighting kids."
"I'm glad too, mommy," I agreed. "Drive safe, okay? And pull over if you're tired," I reminded her.
"Of course I will. I love you lots, tell John I love him too."
"Okay mom, bye," I hung up. "Mom loves you," I told John when I put the phone back.
"Well I certainly hope so," he said. "So, where's she going and when will she be back?"
"Las Vegas, and she'll be back on Monday."
"That means we have the house all to ourselves, lil sis, for two days."
"Yes, that indeed," I agreed. "A lovely boring two days. Start the movie," I commanded. I leaned against him as he started the movie. The pizza and wine slowly diminishing as I snuggled against him. The movie wasn't exactly what I had intended. I guess it serves me right for not paying attention when I got it. It was certainly passionate, that's for sure.
I didn't want to look like I was intent on what was going on in the movie, but I also didn't want to make eye contact with John in the midst of the moaning so I settled for attempting a bored look towards the TV. I shifted uncomfortably on the couch. John had one arm lazily around my shoulders as I leaned against him. Although the blanket covered my legs, his body was not and I had been out with enough boys to know that the movie was getting him going. Which I couldn't blame him for at all, considering I was enjoying it far more than I let on. I just wasn't sure if I wanted to share that experience with my brother.
Relief filled me when the movie was over. "Well, that wasn't exactly what I was expecting," I said when it was done.
"It was better than the flick you made me watch last time," he pointed out. That was true. Last time we had a movie night it was a really pointless movie. "I got something better," he said, holding out the latest season of Heroes.
"Sweet!" I said enthusiastically. "Go put it in."
"You go," he said, giving it to me.
"I put the last on in," I protested. "It's your turn." I gave him a shove, which didn't really do much good. I was in good shape from swimming and running and stuff, but I wasn't exactly a competitive athlete. On the other hand, John was six foot two of toned muscle. Needless to say, my push didn't do much good. He playfully pushed me back and it went on until he finally pinned me to the couch.
"I won," he grinned down at me. There was no shocker there. "But I'm going to be nice to you and I'll go anyway," he said and rolled off of me. When he had turned to the DVD player I sprawled out on the couch, just to bug him. "Now really, is that anyway to repay your sweet brother?" he asked when he turned back to the couch. He picked me up like I was doll and set me down again. I scowled at him. It was unfair that he could just move me like that. I settled back to watch Heroes anyway.
After a few episodes though, I was pretty tired. "I'm spent," I said, "I'm turning in."
"I'm right behind you," he agreed.
I fell asleep quickly, if somewhat restlessly. I woke up restlessly in the early hours of the day. I wasn't one to usually have bad dreams, but that one had seriously freaked me out. It gave me the kind of feeling that I wasn't safe in bed, but it would be worse if I got out of bed, but I couldn't be alone. Before I could think it over, I rushed across the hall to John's room. I didn't care if he thought I was a baby, I was freaked out.
He looked sound asleep, so I quietly slipped into his warm bed next to him. I loved the feeling of body generated warmth in a bed. It was incredibly comforting. Besides, no bad dream axe-murderer would dare come for me when I was in a toasty bed with my big brother. I closed my eyes and slept easily again.
A shifting in the bed woke me slowly the next morning. I opened my eyes blearily. "What the hell!" said John in shock when he looked around and saw that his arm was around me.
"Good morning to you too," I said. It didn't take me long to remember that I had gone running into his room in the night from a bad dream.
"Wha- but you- WHAT?" he spluttered in confusion. "What do you think you're doing in here?"
"I'm sorry," I apologized. "I got really freaked out..."
"What, you had a bad dream?" he asked incredulously.
"Um, yeah," I said, suddenly feeling very stupid.
"Okay," he said reluctantly. He sighed and put his arms around me again, pulling me close. "You're always safe with me." I was somewhat shocked at his reaction. I thought he would push me out or something. "But what if I wasn't wearing anything?! What if I had snuck a girl in or something? You have to think about these things before running into a teenage boy's room in the middle of the night," he burst out.
"You've been sleeping in boxers since you threw away your 'Bob the Builder' pajamas. I think I would have heard some noise if you had snuck a girl in here. And you're just my brother."
"Whatever. Damn, and I was thinking sexy Susie from school had somehow found her way into my bed. Little did I know it was only my 'fraidy-cat sister."
I scoffed, "You do know that Suzan graduated last year," I pointed out. I didn't mention that they hadn't even talked to each other before.
"Yum, college women!"
"Gross," I said, before leaving the room. I went back to my room and started to get dressed until my door slammed open again. "Jonathan!" I said angrily. This time I was only wearing undergarments. "My door was closed this time!"
"And my door was closed last night too. This was purely revenge," he said smugly.
"So, were you coming in here for a reason, or did you just hope to catch me undressed?"
"Ew, don't be ridiculous," he said, pushing my accusations away. "I was just wondering if you could spot me... please," he asked. "But you should get dressed first," he added.