Part 28 – Flesh & Blood

A screech rang through the hallway and a little blonde and green blur came tearing out of the bathroom. It slammed into me and I looked down into a pair of wide blue eyes. A young girl, no older than three years old smiled up at me. She was sopping wet and had a pastel green towel wrapped around her body.

Carrie peered down at her, both hands on her hips, concealing a smile, but it touched the corners of her lips and sparkled in her eyes.

“Hi!” The little girl said, before emitting another ear-splitting scream and took off running again.

“Okay, young lady,” Carrie said scooping her up before she could slip past. “It’s time to finish drying you and get you dressed.”

“This should only take a few minutes,” she smiled. “Why don’t you join the others in the living room?”

The girl screamed a third time, as Carrie carried her away squirming in her arms. Half-amused and half-disappointed, I watched them depart. I gritted my teeth against a flash of anger and irritation. Closing my eyes, I paused and counted to ten.

On my second day of my period, I was still suffering through the effects of premenstrual syndrome. Which, I’d learned from further discussion with my grandmother, started before my monthly visitor. Like a lot of guys, I’d always just assumed PMS was another term for a period. It seemed like a no-brainer in retrospect, but, to be honest, I’d never given it much consideration. Should have figured that in addition to a little bleeding I’d have to deal with mood swings, stomach cramps and the likes. God, being a girl was such a joy.

I’d been dragged through the mud so much since my twist, I had given little consideration to how emotional I’d been. Who wouldn’t be a wreck after what I’d been through? Now that I look back, it seemed likely that the raging torrent of hormones that now surged within me had probably influenced my behavior.

I found my way into the living room and seated myself beside Liz. I hunched over legs spread out and ran my hands through my hair, this time careful not to scrape them on my horns. My heart hammered in my chest and it was all I could do to keep from bolting. I had an entire family I’d never even met, or even once considered they existed. A hand touched my knee and look over at Liz.

“If you’re going to dress like that you probably shouldn’t sit with your legs open,” she whispered, and I glanced down realizing that I was displaying my panties for all the world to see.

My twist had screwed with my head and given me a figure most girls would envy, but it didn’t give me the knowledge or mannerisms to fit the part. I bit my lip and put my legs together my feminine pad crinkling between my legs. Goddamned was it annoying.

I eyed David and Liz, who kept sneaking furtive glances when they thought I wasn’t looking. When I shifted my clothes in front of their eyes, I’d given them quite the shock, but my choice in outfit was what drew their attention now.

A dog’s bark sounded, and a moment later another blur, this one black with a splash of white, came whizzing through the room. A cocker spaniel bounced on to the couch, plopped down beside me and put its head on my lap. I jerked back, startled, but soon enough I found myself scratching the little critter behind the ear.

Drew returned with the twins in tow and I got my first look at my younger brothers. They were six, maybe seven, indistinguishable from one another and took after their father in the looks department. Not that I didn’t see a little of Carrie in their features, but it was mostly in their eyes.

Carrie returned with a much more sedate Amanda in tow, and everyone took seats. It was a little crowded for everyone, but they managed, Drew grabbed Amanda and let her sit on his lap on the recliner and the twins shared a matching seat across from him. Carrie remained standing, but moved toward me. She smiled and placed a hand on my shoulder.

“Kids,” Carrie cleared her throat “I’d like you to meet Calista she’s your sister…”

They met her statement with dead silence and I stared back at my siblings like a deer caught in headlights.

As we peered across the room at one another, the one thing that kept running through my mind was, of all the times to start my period, why did it have to happen now? If I hadn’t been so preoccupied with the damn pad between my legs or the cramps in my stomach, I might have devised something to say.

It was Amanda that broke the silence, she burst out of Drews arms and came rushing toward me, hopped onto my lap, threw her arms out and buried her face in my chest. Frozen in place, I sat there surprised and a little uncomfortable, but then the girl pulled back from me and the smile that stretched across her face melted my heart. Without even thinking about it, I returned the embrace.

“I, uh, that is to say, it’s nice to meet you all,” I said my cheeks blushing

“Calista, the one on the left, is Brandon, and the one the right is Bryan,” Carrie said motioning to each in turn

“Sister? You never said we had an older sister!” Bryan said, both twins staring at me with wide eyes.

“Well,” Carrie said a sigh escaping her lips. “You remember what mommy said about the way I was before I had my twist?”

The twins nodded and Amanda peered up at her mother arms still wrapped around me. “When I was a boy, I was dating a girl. Her family didn’t think too kindly of people like us and when I twisted, I left my home town without knowing we’d made a baby together. Calista didn’t know much about me, but she had my boy name, and found your grandparents.”

The brothers exchanged glances, then Brandon spoke up. “Does this mean she’ll be staying with us?”

Carrie asked squeezing my shoulder and peering down at me with a single arched eyebrow. I froze staring up at her with wide eyes. I knew what she was doing trying to get me to engage my half siblings, but that didn’t mean I had any idea what the crap to say.

“Y-yeah,” I said a smile touching the corners of my lips despite my nerve. “I guess it does.”

Amanda let out a squeal of pure uncontained glee and I looked down into her eyes as she beamed up at me. “We’re gonna have sooo much fun. We can play dollies and have a tea party and make cookies and play dress up and…”

I beamed back down at her all the tension bursting out of me in the form of a nervous giggle. Amanda was the first, but one by one, each of the family members joined in. It felt good to laugh after so long and for the first time since my twist things were looking up.

Curled up on the sofa, I bit my lip and glanced down at Amanda who had fallen asleep with her head resting on my lap. It had been a long day spent moving boxes and cleaning out the family’s spare bedroom. My muscles were sore and my eyelids heavy, but I couldn’t help but smile.

Carrie was in the shower, Drew had run to the store, and the twins played in the other room. Amanda had taken to me like bread on butter and I can’t say I disliked it. She was cute as hell, and now that I was girl… I didn’t mind admitting it.

She was a bit crazy, the pickle relish incident had proved that before I’d even met her, but I wouldn’t change that for all the world. That being said, it would be a little nice to move.

I leaned forward, careful not to disturb her and reached out for something which had caught my eye on the adjacent table. I stretched out my arm as far as I could without moving my torso, which was much harder than it sounds, and let a smile touch my lips as my fingers found purchase around the corner of a tablet. I pulled it close and switched the device on, again careful not to disturb my near-comatose sister.

There was something I’d been dying to know since arriving in Spiral. Though it could shatter my prospects of a happy home, I couldn’t hide the truth forever. I swore my heart stopped when I punched the search terms into the bar, and for a moment I just stared at the screen frozen. When a few dozen results appeared, I bit my lip reading the headlines and held back my breath.

“Local Boy, Attacked.”

I swallowed hard and clicked on the article. I doubt it took more than a second to load, but to me it seemed like hours. When the text appeared on screen, I realized I was still holding my breath. I exhaled and skimmed the text, but there didn’t seem to be a lot of information. The time and place fit, but there they didn’t even give the name of the ‘victim’ or his ‘assailant’. It seemed obvious that it was Jeff, but why was there so little information?

A part of me wondered if it was Mr. Hails doing, but why hadn’t he mentioned anything about it on the phone with Carrie?

I pursed my lips, closed the browser and set the tablet back down. Leaning my head back, I let out a long sigh, and without even thinking about it stroked Amanda’s mane of long hair. She stirred in my arms, but didn’t come awake.

I’d only just found my new family and already, I feared I might lose them. Tears rolled down my cheeks. I close my eyes and bowed my head sobbing and whimpering. I just wanted everything to settle down. It had been naive of me to believe that finding my father would just fix all my problems. Real life didn’t work that way.

I had a vague sense of something moving on my lap before a weight settled on my chest. I opened my eyes and stared into a pair of big brown eyes. “Were Bryan and ‘Brannon’ being mean to you.”

I froze. Amanda did not understand why I wept. Yet, she was ready to offer her sympathies with no reservations.

“No honey,” I replied returning her embrace. “I’m sad and scared because people were mean to me before I came here.”

She buried her head in my chest. “Don’t worry Mommy will protect you.”

Despite of all my worries, I smiled. She was so innocent and had such simple unwavering faith in Carrie. I remembered having similar convictions about my mother when I was only a year or two older than her. In my case, it had turned out to be nothing more than the imaginings of a naive little boy, but where her mother was concerned I got the sense that it was different. Her love had no strings or conditions. Which begged the question: did that love now extend to me?