Mornelly Short Stories: Family Portrait- Part Three
To read the previous parts, click the links below:
|Image from morguefile.com|
Damhán tugged on his shirt collar. “This is fancy enough, Bran,” he snorted. “I’m not going anymore fancy than this. Already this shirt is killing me, it’s too hot.” He was wearing no more than a very ordinary light colored, long sleeve blue shirt.
Bran wasn’t sure if he should order them back to try something else on or give up in defeat. It was irritating enough that their definition of nice didn’t match his- he was, in fact, wearing a suit jacket, nice white shirt and red tie- but that they thought it was perfectly reasonable to wear such questionable attire. Oh, those two are maddening.
Why couldn’t Ciarán and Damhán at least try to cooperate sometimes? Even just pretend?
“Is Rachel here yet?” Breandan came into the living room with a green shirt and a nice brown leather jacket on. Bran frowned, he’d expected him to be a little more formal than that. “What, Bran?”
“Bran’s freaking out because everything isn’t to his OCD perfection,” Damhán growled. He tugged at his shirt collar some more. “Dude, I never wear long shirts, be happy, okay?”
“I didn’t even say anything,” Bran snapped wearily. “I haven’t said a word.”
“Your look kinda says it all,” Breandan remarked. He adjusted his jacket collar. “Bran, this isn’t some formal event. I think they look fine.”
If Breandan thought it was good, than he should let it go. Breandan rarely got into arguments, he preferred to watch on the sidelines and eat oranges without a care in the world. Though two years younger than Bran, he trusted Breandan’s judgment. He’d just have to let it go.
“It’s fine, you can wear it,” Bran muttered. “Thanks for cleaning up.”
Ciarán reached up and tried to slap Damhán’s hair down. The seventeen-year-old’s long locks continued to stick out at strange angles, though, probably mostly due to the fact Damhán used too much gel when he showered. “Dude…” Ciarán shook his head.
“Hey, your hair’s longer than mine,” Damhán interjected, pointing to Ciarán’s black bangs. “You could pass for a girl.”
Before the two decided to ruin their attempts at “nice clothing”, Bran stepped in and put his hands out. “Seriously, you two, no fighting. Rachel will be here any minute.”
As if on cue, there was a knock at the door. Considering the fact that they lived in 500 BC America, there was little doubt who would be at their door. Rachel had arrived.
“I’ll get it!” Breandan volunteered before Damhán had a chance.
Bran turned around and headed down the hall to Aichear’s room. He rapped on the door and waited outside. Aichear had a tendency to fuss over photos more than Bran did, at least when it came to himself. Aichear hated having his picture painted or taken, he was not photogenic in the least. He was probably still trying to decide how to comb his hair down. “Aichear?”
“Hmm?” came the muffled response. “Come in.”
Bran opened the door to find Aichear staring at the mirror, comb in hand. He knew his oldest brother well. “Hair is fine, Aichear. Rachel’s here, let’s go.”
Aichear glanced his way skeptically, but nodded and set the comb down. He straightened his blue tie and pulled at the cuffs of his blue dress shirt. “Is Aileen ready?”
Bran had yet to see his little sister. He’d best go get her. “I’ll check.”
He headed down to Aileen’s room and rapped on the door. “Don’t come in my dress is stuck!” Aileen cried.
“Stuck where?” Bran demanded. “Aileen, Rachel’s here, let’s get on with this.”
“I can’t get it on over my head!”
Aichear appeared at the doorway of his room, glancing in Bran’s direction. “She need help?”
“She can’t get her dress over her head.” Bran put his hand to his eyes, rubbing his temples. “Heads, you go in, tails, I will.”
Aichear came forward. “I’ll help her.”
If there was one thing he could count on, Aichear was always willing to step up and help their youngest sister. Sometimes it irritated him that his older brother was so meticulous and insisted on being the one to oversee everything to do with Aileen, other times, like right now, he was glad he didn’t have to be responsible for her.
Bran wandered down the hall and into the living room, where their young Chinese friend sat at the table chatting easily with three of the six Mornellys. She caught sight of Bran and smiled, raising her hand in greeting. “Hi, Bran, how are you?”
“Fine, thank you,” Bran responded.
“Dang, Bran, you look nice,” she remarked. “I imagined you would.”
Bran looked down at his semi-casual suit, wondering if perhaps he dressed up too nice after all. He then remembered Aichear had done the same, so at least he wouldn’t look too much like the odd one out. “Thanks. Also, thanks for coming, we appreciate it.”
“No problem, it’s a nice change of pace instead of fighting off animuns with Aichear,” she joked. She brushed a strand of her black hair behind her ear. “Speaking of Aichear, where is he and Aileen?”
“Present.” Aichear came around the corner, Aileen in hand. Bran had to do a double take when he saw the dress Aileen was wearing.
“Aileen, its pink!” he exclaimed.
“Aichear thought it would be nice if I did what you suggested,” she responded. “He said since you worked so hard to put this together I should try to honor you.”
Bran wasn’t sure if he should thank Aichear or be embarrassed. Rachel looked confused and glanced from Aichear to Bran, unsure of what to think of the strange exchange that had just taken place.
“It’s a long story,” Breandan said, coming to the rescue. “These two argue all the time if Aileen should wear pink or blue. Guess who likes blue the best?” He winked.
Rachel was trying her best not to laugh, Bran could tell. It just made him all the more embarrassed. “Well, how nice of you two to care what your younger sister wears.” She grinned. “Should we get started?”
“Yes,” Bran said quickly. “Let’s. Before these two,” he gestured to Damhán and Ciarán, “run off in agony.”
“Right. Well, first off, let’s just get a picture with all of you standing right here in front of the table. The lighting is great in here, thanks to the window over there, and I’d just like to see a more casual picture. Damhán, go stand on the end and Aichear, you stand on the other end, since you two are the tallest. I want Ciarán next to Damhán, Breandan next to Ciarán, and Bran between Breandan and Aichear. Aileen, you’re going to have to stand right over there in front of Aichear and Bran.”
Everyone tried to follow Rachel’s instructions best they could. Aileen came and stood between Aichear and Aileen, dwarfed by the size of her big brothers. Bran put his hand on her shoulder and tried to act casual. Goodness I forgot how awkward this all is.
“All right, everyone act natural! Smile!”
They all tried to smile right and Rachel snapped a picture. She frowned and looked at the digital version on the camera. “Hmm… the hard thing is, Aileen is so much shorter than all of you.”
“I know.” Aileen looked displeased with the reminder. “They’re just too big.”
“And proudddd of it!” Damhán sang out.
“It just doesn’t look right, I’d like to just get a profile of all of you but Aileen’s too short to do that.”
Without a word Aichear scooped Aileen up, moved a chair in front of him and set his leg on it, balancing Aileen on his knee. Aileen let out a snort that was half pleasure, half embarrassment. “Aichear…” she mumbled.
“Will this do?” Aichear asked.
“Yes, perfect! I can get a great profile shot of all of you! Set in all together just a little more…”
As they crowded in closer together, Bran was struck with how familiar all of this was. He flashed back to the day they’d done the painting, when Aichear had been holding Aileen in his lap. Damhán had been chattering away, Breandan joking around, Ciarán grumbling, and Bran fretting that everything wasn’t going to be perfect.
Now, he realized, that it didn’t matter. Perfection didn’t matter. How nice they looked? That didn’t matter. What mattered was the fact he was here, right now, with all five of his siblings. All of them were together. How often did a whole family get banished into the fourth dimension together? Sure, it wasn’t the best situation and he’d prefer that none of them were here, but in a way it made life so much more bearable.
They were together. They were brothers and sister. They were family.
They were the Mornellys.
“Alright, one, two…” Rachel focused her camera.
I’m glad, he decided. I’m glad I have this family. I don’t appreciate them enough. And, even if the pictures don’t turn out perfect, that’s not what it’s about. It’s about memories, and the family that made them together.
At that same second, Damhán reached over and poked Bran in the ribs. “Smillleeee!”
Aileen let out a small giggle, Breandan chuckled.
“Da-” Bran began, but Rachel snapped the picture right then.
Of course when it came to choosing which one they liked the best, all the boys agreed the one where Bran was glaring was their favorite, and of course that was the one they wanted to frame.
Memories, ha! Yes, that picture had a lot of memories. It served as a reminder to Bran that he had a bone to pick with his youngest brother, and every time he passed by that picture, settled right next to the original Mornelly painting, he plotted his evil revenge. He would get Damhán for that one way or another.
After all, that’s what family was all about. You love them and you want to kill them.