Mornelly Short Stories: Family Portrait- Part Two
To read part one, click HERE
“I like this one the best.”
“This one’s nice.”
“Wow! Can you believe this one? You were right, Aileen!”
“Told you!” Aileen held her head up proudly, smiling up at Breandan. “Rachel showed me her pictures before, she’s good at everything.” She had an edge of admiration in her voice, but different than the one Damhán had. Hers held the sound of a young girl looking up to a young woman of inspiration. “She paints too, but she didn’t want to show Bran those. She was too embarrassed.”
Aichear looked up from the photograph of a Chinese family in front of their siheyuan and made eye contact with Bran. “These are good.”
“Yeah, better than I’d thought,” Bran admitted. “I asked her if she’d like to take our picture and she said she’d be more than happy to.”
“She’s very excited, she can’t wait to do a photo shoot with us!” Aileen added. “I’m excited, too! Rachel says you have to wear nice clothes in a photo shoot.”
“Darn,” Ciarán grumbled.
“Yes, nice clothes.” Bran straightened and folded his arms. This was the part that was going to get tricky, he’d already envisioned this argument and knew what the two youngest guys were going to say. They hated dressing nice. “That’s what you do in a photo shoot. We all agreed to do this and so we’re going to go through with it. That means your nicest outfits you have.”
“I think we should be allowed to wear what suits our style,” Damhán argued.
“You can do that. Just make sure it’s nice.” Bran wasn’t going to budge on this. If there was one thing he knew about, it was style. And he knew if he relented their family photograph would turn out- well, horrific to put it nicely.
“Guys, it’s just for a couple pictures, nothing big,” Breandan put in, supporting Bran. “You can handle it for an hour or so. Can’t we all try to do this together for once? We rarely cooperate on anything.”
“Agreed,” Aichear grunted.
“I will dress nice, I don’t ever get to do that very much,” Aileen offered.
Aichear looked about ready to correct Aileen’s grammar, but Bran beat him to it. “I think you mean “I will dress nice, it’s not something I have the opportunity to do much.” Try to keep your sentences straight, Aileen.”
“That’s what I said.” She looked agitated and flicked one of her brown braids behind her shoulder. “Just not as fancy as you.”
“You will wear a dress,” Aichear agreed before Bran could respond. “Your color choice.”
Her color choice? Bran shot a pointed look at his oldest brother. Aichear returned it with an unwavering stare, daring Bran to disagree. Oh, I know exactly what her color choice will be. He trained her up in that one!
“I’ll wear my blue one!” she announced.
“No!” Bran said sharply. “Little girls wear pink dresses. They don’t have to wear blue all the time.”
“But blue is my favorite color.”
“Hey, I thought we get to choose,” Damhán said, coming to Aileen’s defense. “If she wants to wear blue she can.”
“Blue is nice,” Breandan agreed. “Pink is too, but whatever Aileen wants.”
“Black is better,” Ciarán murmured.
“Blue,” Aichear stated, a tinge of smugness in his voice, “is very pretty on you, Aileen.”
“Okay I’m wearing blue.” She hopped down off her chair and waltzed out of the room. “I will go find it. It’s in the back of my closet somewhere. I want it to be ready for tomorrow and I think I popped a button off of it.”
Button? Oh, no, he knew what that meant. Before Aichear had a chance to open his mouth Bran pointed at him and snapped, “You’re sewing it. Not me.”
Aichear raised an eyebrow. “Fine.”
“Why Bran, we all know you’re the better seamstress,” Damhán teased. “Aichear’s terrible at it. You should make sure our dear little sister has a proper sewing for her cute little girly dress.” He finished with a far too high feminine giggle and clapping his hands together like he was a teenage girl.
“That’s disgusting, Damhán,” Bran spat. Augh. Now he had that image in his head. “You’re too good at that.”
Damhán dropped his hands to his side with a glare.
“Sewing doesn’t make you less manly, it’s practical.” Breandan sat down on the table, a frown on his face. “We all had to learn to sew when we were enlisted. That’s how we patched our clothes.”
“Mhhmm.” Aichear nodded. “Practical.”
“Very,” Bran echoed.
“Whatever. I’m glad I don’t have to do it. When’s the photo shoot?” Damhán turned to Bran.
“Tomorrow, so try to find something nice and appropriate for when Rachel comes. She’s expecting cooperation.”
“Damhán will give it to her.” Ciarán stared at his hand without the least bit of interest. One of the usual Ciarán habits, no interest whatsoever. “She’s pretty.”
Damhán shoved Ciarán to the floor and tackled him.
“Two o’clock tomorrow, everyone, that’s the time we set up.” Bran gathered up the photos and stacked them together, putting them back into the folder Rachel had provided them with. “Rachel will come here first, we'll get a few photos here and then head over to Ireland.”
Breandan stepped around the flailing figures of Ciarán and Damhán while they continued to roll on the ground strangling each other. “That was a good idea. Somewhat surprised, Bran, you aren’t very fond of Ireland.” He said it with just enough of a smile that Bran knew that to mean he was half joking, half not.
“I can be decent sometimes. Shocking, I know.” He snapped the folder shut and tapped it against his hand. “Right. Well, I think that’s everything. Glad we have it settled. I’m off to study and return these to Rachel.”
“Bring back a Raisin, Bran!” Damhán called from the floor, still pinning Ciarán down. “Get it?”
“Hilarious, Damhán. Never heard that one before.” He stopped long enough to point a finger at the two on the floor. “I mean it, boys, clean up for tomorrow. I expect it.”
“You’re not in charge of us,” Ciarán muttered from under Damhán.
“Yeah! We’re adults, we can do what we want. You’re not in charge!”
Aichear stepped towards the two, one hand to his glasses.
They all knew that look and what it meant. Damhán grudgingly got to his feet and let Ciarán up. Ciarán narrowed his eyes and looked up at Aichear. The oldest Mornelly kept one hand to his glasses, still threatening to take them off until both boys stepped back.
Aichear’s hand went down and he turned to Bran. “They’ll clean up.”
Damhán rolled his eyes behind Aichear’s back.
Bran decided to leave before anything else erupted, glad to have that taken care of. Now all that was left to fuss over was tomorrow. Fantastic. He knew his brothers- and sister- too well. Something would go wrong, just like when they had that painting done so many years before.
He had to smile in spite of himself. Ah, that painting brought back so many memories. The one that he remembered the best was the feud between him and Aichear. Aichear was twenty-five at the time, Bran was twenty-two. Neither one agreed on the color dress Aileen should wear. Not much different than today.
Aichear, having raised Aileen for the most part, felt blue was the color for her. Bran disagreed- pink was so much more little girl. Funny thing, through it all, Aileen hadn’t actually cared in the end. All she wanted was to play with her dolls, and she wouldn’t sit still when the painter was trying to do their portrait. Her and Damhán both.
In the end, Bran had to hold onto Damhán’s shirt collar to keep him from terrorizing Aileen or running off and Aichear held Aileen in his lap, having to sit down for the portrait to be finished.
So long ago. Damhán was a wild and obnoxious boy back then, just as he was now. But he had innocence on his side, something he didn’t possess anymore. Something that had been taken from all of them, that bliss of not knowing what it meant to live in hardship. Having their parents taken away from them had been hard, but nothing as hard as living in banishment.
A wave of regret swept over him, but he pushed it away. That was part of the reason he wanted an updated picture. There were some things he wanted to forget.
He stopped in front of the painting and stared up at it. There was Aichear in the middle, Aileen settled firmly in his grasp. A serious expression was on his face. Aileen had such a baby face, her eyes glowed and she looked impatient but happy. Bran stood on the right side of Aichear, his hand invisible behind Damhán’s head, who stood next to him. Damhán had a look of wild mischief, mixed with excitement and boyish adventure. Bran, on the other hand, looked almost bored, like he didn’t want to be there. Strange, why do I look like that?
His eyes wandered over to Breandan and Ciarán, on the left side of Aichear. Breandan stood tall and straight, Ciarán looked like Ciarán, grumpy and annoyed to be there. Even in his duke uniform, he still had a slumped look to him. Bran had to chuckle. Ciarán was never cut out for the military. Breandan, on the other hand, looked snappy and smart. His eyes were bright and cheerful. Though none of them were supposed to smile in the painting, Breandan clearly had a look of content happiness on his face.
Once more he looked over at himself. The more he stared into the face of his likeliness the more he didn’t like it. He was strict, he was serious, he was petty. Arrogant, too.
He hadn’t quite gotten over that.
Still, even though he didn’t quite like the painting or the memories it brought back, he had to admit it was still special. This was what life was before banishment. That was their memory of Asieopia.
Don’t have to like the memories to need them.
After all, that was the only thing that reminded him not to make mistakes like that again. Banishment was no fun.
The new picture, on the other hand, would represent not only their new life but the good things that had come from everything. In the end, he didn’t truly want to get rid of the old painting, he just wanted to add to it. Add the truth of what had happened, who they were now and what they looked like now. He imagined when they had a chance to compare the difference, it was going to be a very big change. Oh well, that’s what time did.
They just happened to have the curse of having a lot of time all the time.
Oh well, he had more important things to focus on. He headed to the study to get some work done on his law degree. How easy it would be for him to skip all the steps and just get the degree, but he liked the challenge of studying everything. Plus, it just made him better at winning arguments.
Though there was one argument he was pretty sure he’d lost- tomorrow would tell with the appearance of Ciarán and Damhán.
To read more click here>>> PART THREE
To read more click here>>> PART THREE