Mornelly Short Stories: Family Portrait- Part One
Recently I came across a photo in the Mornelly's house that was next to a beautiful painting of the family when they were younger. I asked about the painting and photo, and was promptly sat down by Bran who began a tale about the Family Portrait and what exactly it all meant.
This is his story.
This is his story.
Told to Her By
Bran studied the portrait on the wall, looking from himself to the other siblings. The painting had been done while in Asieopia, and though it sported the Mornelly men in their Asieopian uniforms and Aileen in an adorable dress, there was no doubt in Bran’s mind it was time to get another painting- or picture- done of the family.
For starters, Aileen was wearing a blue dress when obviously she should have been wearing pink. Though far over three hundred years ago, Bran clearly remembered the argument between himself and Aichear as to what the best color was for their baby sister. Aichear had insisted, and had won, when it came to the dress and she’d worn the blue one.
Second off, Damhán was much shorter back then when they’d gotten this portrait done. He was a young boy of twelve, Aileen was only five and Ciarán was sixteen. Those three looked abnormally small and childish. Damhán had been complaining about how little he was in the prized portrait for some time now, and Bran had to admit he was right. Damhán had surpassed all but Aichear in height, and looked more like he was twenty-five than seventeen.
Yes, it was time for change.
Aichear came around the corner from the kitchen, a jar of peanut butter in one hand and a spoon in the other. He looked at Bran behind his glasses with a pointed look and grunted. “What?”
“The painting.” Bran gestured to one of the few possessions they’d been able to bring with them into banishment. “Look at everyone, we’re all so much younger in this. Goodness, Aileen’s practically a baby. You had to hold her in your lap for the most part.”
“Who said I’m a baby?” Aileen came out of the living room with a drawing pad in hand, a narrowed look to her hazel-green eyes. “Bran, I’m ten years old, I’m not a baby.”
“You were then,” Bran retorted with a wave at the painting. “At least you kinda still acted like one. You sure looked like one, you were so tiny back then.”
“And cute!” Breandan added from the kitchen where he was fixing lunch. “You were very cute! Aichear, bring the peanut butter back so I can finish the sandwiches!”
In response, Aichear scooped a spoonful of peanut butter out of the jar and stuck it in his mouth, disappearing back into the kitchen.
Aileen came to stand next to Bran, a good foot shorter than he. She studied the painting, reaching out to touch it with her hand. “It is so pretty, though.”
“I’m not saying we replace it, I’m saying we should get a new one done of our family. Or a picture taken,” Bran explained. He scratched his dark-brown hair. “Besides, wouldn’t you like to have a new picture where you’re older?”
“I… guess.” Aileen didn’t sound so sure of herself.
Bran was irritated. He never could understand why Aileen flip-flopped so much. One minute she was demanding to be treated older, the next she seemed to want to be the little baby sister again. Girls. So emotional and unstable.
“Damhán, what do you think?” Bran yelled. He knew the youngest Mornelly boy was somewhere around.
“Think of what?” Damhán shouted back.
“Come in here and find out.”
“I’m reading! Leave me alone.”
Bran blinked. “You’re what?”
“He got a new weapon from Jerk,” Aileen explained. “Some strange Viking weapon that he’s determined to use correctly. So he found a book on whatever it is.”
“It’s not a “strange weapon”, Aileen, it’s called a halberd and it’s really cool.”
The voice from the living room sounded less dreamy and more focused. That meant Bran had a better chance of irritating the tall young man into coming to the hall and getting him to join his side. “Sounds rather boring, Damhán,” Bran shot back. “Care to explain what makes this one different than your others?”
Aileen raised an eyebrow. “Uhm you sure you want to get into this?”
“I know what I’m doing,” Bran murmured. “Best to stay out of the way.”
Aileen took a hint and wandered into the kitchen, picking up pace when the heavy footsteps from the living room signaled that Damhán was on the move.
Bran smirked when the blond came around the corner, his blue eyes snapping and a book in his hand. “Dude. You haven’t seen anything yet. Shows how much you know.”
He emerged fully into the hall and shouldered the huge halberd spear, fingering the large blade on the end. His look of offense turned into one of pride, he chuckled and swung it around a bit. “Pretty sick, right?”
“Hmmm very nice. You’re right, it’s definitely unique,” Bran agreed. He pointed to the painting. “Say, what do you think of getting a new one done?”
“What’s wrong with that one?” Damhán grunted. He came to stand next to Bran, squinting at the painting. “Except for the fact I’m wayyy bigger than that now, I like it.”
“We can still keep it, but what if we did an updated one? Of how we look now? We’re all older. You’re taller. Ciarán’s not so shrimpy.”
“I heard that,” a muffled voice came from the living room.
“Good. Than we all agree, we should get another one done. Now the question is, should it be photograph or painting?” Bran rubbed his chin, studying everyone in the old portrait once more. He had to admit he was kinda proud of how he looked, though only twenty-two he did cut a striking figure in his enlisted military uniform. At that time he and Aichear were the only ones old enough for service, Breandan was only twenty. The rest of the boys wore the uniforms that proved they were dukes but didn’t bear the markings of enlisted officers.
“Whom do you suggest to do such a feat?”
Bran jumped and sent an elbow backwards into Aichear. “Dude! Seriously!”
Aichear grunted and stepped back, rubbing his chest. “Oww.”
“Don’t go sneaking up on people,” Bran challenged.
Aichear didn’t respond, he fixed his glasses and looked up at the painting.
“Bran’s right, Aichear, it’s time we get a new one done,” Damhán said. Bran couldn’t help but let a small smile tug his lips. Damhán could be a very easy ally to convince. “We’re older now. More mature. Cooler. Y’know?”
Aichear shrugged, his face not betraying what he thought of the whole idea. “If you wish. But whom?”
Bran crossed his arms, still somewhat annoyed Aichear had gotten the jump on him like that and had managed to sneak up behind him without his noticing. It was insulting to his pride. “Who what?”
“Who is to paint this new portrait or photograph us?”
Aichear had a point there. Though Bran didn’t want to say anything, it did matter to him who did this favor for the Mornelly family. They were dukes, Asieopian royalty, and though they’d been stripped of their title when banished from their homeland he still had a sense of pride as to where they’d come from. Whoever did a painting of them or took a picture needed to be professional. And they really didn’t know that many professionals in either area.
“Da Vinci, maybe,” Bran mused. “He never lost his ability to See.”
“Oh! Helmut Newton!” Breandan volunteered from the kitchen, obviously still listening while he made the sandwiches.
“Aleksandr Rodchenko,” Bran added. “He’s another one we could enlist.”
Aileen came skipping back into the hall to join in the conversation. “What about Rachel? She could do it for us!”
“Aileen I thought you were helping me with lunch.”
She turned around and fled back into the kitchen. “Sorry, Breandan!”
Ciarán appeared in the hall from the living room, a book by Steven King in hand. He looked disinterested in what was going on, but obviously that was not the case since he’d come to give his impute. “Robert Capa,” he mumbled. “I like Robert Capa.”
“He’s the war photographer, isn’t he?” Damhán’s eyes lit up. “I like him, too!”
“No. Guys. Just… no.” Bran did a face palm. “We’re dukes, boys, not soldiers.”
“Hey! We were military, too! Or at least I was going to be eventually. Ciarán was just enlisting and the rest of you had already served,” Damhán interjected.
“We’re not going to battle, though! We don’t need Capa! Besides, he doesn’t See. I don’t even know if any of the others see, either. Da Vinci does, though.”
‘Soooo does Racchheeelll!” Aileen sang out. “Why not Rachel?”
“She’s not professional, Aileen. She’s a warrior, not a photographer or painter.”
“You obviously haven’t seen her artwork than, Bran, because she takes great pictures and makes cute paintings.”
All the boys, with the exception of Aichear because he was emotionless anyways, made a face at the word “cute”. No. Not cute. Not on their list of things they wanted to show through their picture.
“We can look into her photography.” Aichear glanced down at Bran, something Bran hated because it reminded him how much taller than him Aichear was. “No harm in it.”
“Why not Da Vinci?” Bran argued. “We know he can See, we’ve spent time with him before and he likes our family.”
“Bran, Da Vinci draws weird stuff.” Damhán made a face. “And that’s coming from me.”
“I like his work,” Ciarán stated dryly.
“That’s because he dissects people.”
“Ciarán that’s just messed up.”
“Da Vinci is famous,” Bran pointed out. “And he is good, even if he draws… questionable content. What’s wrong with Da Vinci?”
“Status in life is of little importance to us,” Aichear remarked. He looked up at the painting that had been done of them so long ago, reaching out to touch it just like Aileen had. “Damhán is right, Da Vinci isn’t the artist we require for this job. I suggest a photograph.”
“It’s new, it’s cool and it will be updated,” Damhán jumped in. “Besides, Bran, you said you wanted something new so let’s go with a new style. We’ve never been photographed before. Why not checking out Rachel’s work and seeing if it’s as good as Aileen claims?”
“Alright, fine, whatever. It’s not that big of a deal, if you want to do that then go ahead.” If Damhán and Aichear were agreeing, Bran knew his argument was busted. Those two never agreed on anything. It sounded like Rachel would be the chosen one. “But let’s get it done soon. Aileen, why don’t you come with me this afternoon to go and see Rachel? Hopefully we’ll catch her home.”
“Yeah, good luck with that.” Damhán smiled, but not his usual playful smirk. This was the smile of admiration and perhaps a tad bit of love-struck. “Rachel’s too busy saving the world and fighting evil animuns.”
“Ohhh, someone’s been struck with the L word.” Ciarán poked Damhán in the ribs.
“Someone’s going to be struck with my fist if they keep on like that!”
“Okkkayyy it’s settled, Aileen and I will go after lunch and talk to Rachel, barring she isn’t out and doing her usual globetrotting crime fighting adventures. And if she can’t take our picture than I opt we go with Da Vinci.”
Bran left the hallway and came into the kitchen, just as Breandan finished slapping the last piece of bread together. His sharp eye caught sight of the spoon Aichear had had in his mouth not long before- and it was now in the peanut butter jar. “Breandan, you didn’t make sandwiches with that spoon, did you?”
Breandan turned to Bran, a frown on his face. He turned on the faucet and washed his hands, taking the towel from Aileen when she offered it to him. “What’s wrong?”
Needless to say Bran wasn’t hungry after that.
To read more click here>>> PART TWO
To read more click here>>> PART TWO