My therapist stumbled through my name when we first met.
"See-o-ban?" she said, pausing on each syllable to add to the effect of her confusion.
"Siobhan, pronounced sort of like the petrol company Chevron but without the 'r.'"
"Yes, but more like 'Shi-von.' Whatever it takes to disable the 'b' in there is worth doing," I said.
"Where does that name come from?"
"It's the Jane of Ireland."
"Or Mary or Sarah. One of those common names."
"Is your family Irish?"
"Did you grow up in Ireland?"
Visibly uncomfortable, she adjusted her posture and jotted something on her notepad.
"So," she began. "Let's start from the beginning."
I called my therapist the morning after I met my brother for the first time to schedule an emergency meeting.
The night before was my birthday. A friend planned a small getaway weekend in upstate New York to celebrate another year gone by. I had a ticket to catch a train out of Grand Central, but time caught up with me and I missed the train, giving me two hours until the next train was scheduled to leave.
Instead of ruminating over the missed train in the basement concourse café of Grand Central, I decided to make the most of my time. I called a client and scheduled an impromptu meeting at a nearby bar to discuss the details of an upcoming piece I was representing on her behalf to an editor.
There I was, a naive sheep sitting in a bar sipping on a Cosmo with two extra limes, when I saw a familiar looking man sitting on the other side of the room. It only took me a moment and a half to recognize him; it was my long-lost brother Darragh Durant.
I hesitate to use the phrase "long-lost" because he was neither lost nor had it been long since I had seen him last. In fact, I had never seen him in person and he was never lost to me -- I was lost to him. My father met my mum and after what my mum describes as a "romantic thrill with all the bells and whistles -- but mostly whistles," I was born as the result of the scarlet letter.
An odd ballad-rap hybrid played overhead. If my not-so-long, not-so-lost brother arbitrarily appeared in my life, I should meet him. I took a swig of my Cosmo and went about changing my life.
I walked over to the table where he sat at the head and stood just behind him to his right. The men with whom he was sharing an evening meal stopped chewing and turned their heads to me. Darragh, who exuded an irrefutable amount of confidence in his dark gray suit-and-vest combo inwrought with thin stripes, turned in his chair and looked at me. For a moment I felt as I had when my dad first showed me photographs of the family that wasn't mine: an unsettling amount of longing.
"Excuse me," I said politely. I wondered if he could see my hand shaking when I reached out to introduce myself, which was a necessary addendum to an introduction in the scenario where I recognize a brother I never met who is very unaware of my existence.
"Hello," I said to him and his well-dressed comrades. "Your name is Darragh, and I'm… your... sister."
"This is strange, I know."
He stood from the table and took a step closer as if to get a better look at me.
"My god…" he said in shock. His eyes were the color of the Hudson River when the sun hits the low crests of the current and the tide fractures into mossy greens.
"I know this is a real shocker, but -- "
"You look like my father," he interrupted.
"So do you."
"How do you know who I am?" he asked, not as breathless as I expected him to be. Coolness ricocheted off his skin, much like the austerity of my father when he and my mum argued. The men at the table sat quietly and watched the strange reunion unfold.
"Our dad told me about you and your -- our -- siblings."
"What is this?" he said, halfway smiling at the absurdity of it.
I shrugged and made the face a teenager might make when confronted by a parent about the suspicious smell on her clothes when she walks into the house past curfew.
"How did you find me?"
"I recognized you."
"This is…" he began but did not finish his thought.
I'd seen his face an innumerable amount of times along with his brothers and sister, who were my half-brothers and half-sister. Seeing him in person was ethereal; to me, his presence was equivalent to the disembodied version of himself in the repeated dream I had as a child where I met my misplaced family.
His silence made me nervous and I started to stumble through my words.
"I only wanted for you to know you have another sister and that it's me. It doesn't have to mean anything, I just thought you should know."
I made the teenager face again when he didn't say anything.
"This is very inopportune, so, um, it was nice to meet you, and have a nice stay," I said, as if I was the concierge at a hotel. I hurried away much like a teenager ignoring her nosy parents to march to her room, grabbed my coat from the back of the bar chair and fled to the street.
I headed down 43rd away from the bar, attempting to mask over the growing embarrassment from the saga by inhaling with every other stride of my left foot. Before I could see how horrendously awkward the situation could become, I took the liberty of jabbing it with a shot of oxytocin. My therapist tells me to think about my actions, but in this instance I was -- again -- the teenager ridden with angst about her parents helicoptering too closely to her personal ozone layer.
"Wait!" I heard someone call. I knew it was Darragh before I turned to look.
"You didn't tell me your name," he said coming toward me. I stood my ground right in the middle of the sidewalk as passersby averted their paths to avoid what they probably assumed was a grand reuniting.
Darragh put out his hand. "Nice to meet you, Siobhan."
I started to turn again, assuming that was the extent of the information I could provide or what he wanted to know, but he put a hand on my shoulder as soon as I pivoted away from him.
"I need to know more about this."
I took a deep breath. I was ready to tell him and the streets of New York the brief story of my relation to him that I dramatized as a child but came to terms with when I turned eighteen and moved to America.
"Our dad met my mum a bit after Maeve was born. Dad used to tell me about you all. I knew all about Edgar and how many times he was expelled from school because of his deftness with the left hook. I knew about you and your knack for jokes -- dad hoped you'd have something to offer our bleak country in the form of comedy. I knew about Cian and his love of football. And I knew of little Finnegan too, even though he came around after my mum and I left dad. And then there was Maeve. The perfect girl, the daughter I would never be. I lived my whole life knowing about all of you and how I'd never be part of your perfect life in Birmingham. I rue the day my mum told me we were leaving for America. At least when I was in London you were accessible to me, even if I had no opportunity or right to visit you. But we were leaving and not coming back."
He stood silently, hands sheathed in his peacoat colored like an empty midnight, so I continued.
"For my whole life you were siblings to me, or maybe more like imaginary friends or ghosts. Except you weren't made up and you weren't dead. But once I left England I thought I'd never meet you and maybe you'd been dead all along."
Darragh's skin was pale, the result of Irish blood, English living, and learning about a forgotten sister. His bottlegreen eyes were fixed on mine.
"He was a son of a bitch," Darragh said, breaking eye contact and looking at something beyond me. His face was gray stone with taxi headlights dancing like flames in his eyes.
"I used to think I was equally worthy of his attention in comparison to the five of you. I never was. He spent most of his time in Birmingham and I was okay with that," I said.
"He spent very little of his time with us. He was a drunk, a gambler and nothing short of a spit bucket in a bar. He wasn't with you and he wasn't with us. So don't blame him for your sorrows -- you thought yourself into them," Darragh said bleakly.
For a moment I saw a shadow of Allister Durant on his face, a dark form settling beneath his cheekbones as if Darragh was hiding in a closet and a figure stepped in front of the crack in the door to obscure the light.
"The only thing I 'thought myself into' in regards to you Brummies was how badly I wished I was one of you. I had a whole script prepared to recite to one of you in the event we met," I said.
"And what did the script say?"
"'I couldn't be happier to meet you. Our father kept us apart for years, but here we are, together. Cheers.' Then I would raise my glass," I said, raising up my hand to gesture my intended act.
"Is that right?" Darragh scoffed. His face loosened around his smirk.
"I didn't say those things because not all scripts are appropriate for the sets in which they are placed."
"What do you mean by that?"
"I realize that I'm not that happy to meet you, and you're even less happy about it. And it wasn't Allister who kept us away from each other: it was me," I said. "And on top of it all, I don't have a drink for a 'cheers.'"
"Well then," Darragh said. "Let's get you one."
"Stately, personable, and businesslike are the three defining qualities a man must have to walk through my doorway," I told my therapist during our second session together. I circled my finger around the antique brass nailheads on her buttontufted linenblend sofa.
The list was a bill I was willing to pay over and over again until I had exact change. I dated Stately during boarding school, Personable when I studied abroad in France, and Businesslike once I entered the workforce. I almost dated Personably Businesslike, but decided to wait until I met someone who fit the entire bill.
"In order to make qualitative conclusions, you need to have quantitative means," she said, reasoning with my logic.
I felt like I was in my high school biology class when she used the two Q-words so I zoned her out for a minute and then re-entered her atmosphere of psychological deconstructing when I felt she was in English-class-territory because at least then I would have the chance to excel.
Here's an easy way to qualitatively describe my state of mind then versus where I am now. The day I walked into her opulently furnished office (most likely) sponsored by Restoration Hardware, I was wearing jeans with holes in the knees, a graphic tee I found in an ON SALE bin in the back of a Hot Topic when I went to buy my teenage niece an angsty birthday gift (although if my interior were to be constructed via reality it would resemble the inside of a Hot Topic store, especially with that exposed brick, black-framed semi-circle entranceway), and a blazer à la my uniform-required boarding school days. Quantitatively, I was twenty-eight.
It had been two and a half years since I first started seeing her. But when I called her for a post-birthday, post-brother appointment, I turned the clock back as if I had missed daylight saving time for a decade.
We strolled south on 43rd under a dark sky broken by blips of cumulus clouds. We didn't say anything until we walked by an Irish pub and simultaneously asked, "Here?"
"Fitting," he said, holding the door for me.
We were seated at a table for two against a window. Darragh held out my chair before draping his jacket and blazer on the back of his chair and sitting down. He pulled out a cigarette and tapped it on the table before reaching for his lighter.
"I don't think you can smoke in here," I told him.
"Ah," he said. "Americans and their laws."
"At least it's for the good of the country."
"The good of us all, eh?"
A waiter poured water into our glasses and walked away after seeing our menus closed.
Darragh's hair was a deep auburn like our dad's and cut shorter on the sides with the top bunch loosely held up by its own volume. A strand danced on his forehead when he leaned forward to adjust his posture.
"So what brings you stateside?" I asked.
"What kind of business?"
"I work in the metal industry."
"Ah, something dad was always interested in."
Darragh eyed me suspiciously and asked, "In what way?"
"He had a thing for copper. Kept an American penny in his pocket for good luck."
"He showed it to me a couple times."
"Now they're made of zinc, so he must have had an old one."
"It was always the same penny. 1919."
He tapped his fingers on the table, looking outside.
"Well, I can only imagine our interests are quite different," Darragh said, following a couple with his eyes as they walked past outside.
"What do you do in the metal industry?"
"I work primarily with lead, sometimes aluminum."
"Lead, eh? Dangerous."
"Only if handled improperly."
"What do you do with lead?"
He gave me a disconcerting look. "So many questions," he said, reaching for the glass of water. "Not as many answers."
"Sorry," I said, unabashedly.
"It's alright. You want to know who I am."
"Yes. Who are you?"
He took a long drink of water and wiped his lips with a folded corner of the cloth napkin. There was something dark about Darragh, absorbent and unflappable. He maintained a consistent level of arid emotion as if he was betrayed the last time he gave anything of himself to someone.
"I'm not sure you want to know."
He averted his eyes to cut off the conversation. We were silent for a bit and hid behind the walls of our menus, our faces curtained by dinner specials and desserts. Our waiter poured us wine after Darragh wordlessly signaled the waiter with a nod.
"How is everyone?"
"You mean my siblings?"
I was momentarily hurt by the use of "my" rather than "our."
"Yes. What are they up to?"
"Well," Darragh said, exhaling. He leaned against the back of his chair. "Edgar is a rotten lawyer. Cian calls himself a football player but is really a barman. Finn is in university. And Maeve is occupied with her son."
"She has a son?"
"Yes, born last year."
"What's his name?"
"An Irish name."
"How odd," he said with thick sarcasm. "As if Irish names are a foreign notion in our family."
I shrugged. He had a sip of wine.
"Carrick's a bastard, but his father was from Cork and so is our father. It was no surprise to us that Maeve would honor the men who left her," he said, his expression blank aside from a faint furrow in his brow.
"Why weren't you surprised?"
Darragh gave me a half-glare.
"What is it that has you so interested in us? We're not your family."
"That's the thing," I said, holding my wine glass and swirling it gently with the tick of my wrist. "You are my family. I've known you my whole life. You haven't until now."
A bemused smile broke over his lips.
"You're harrowed by the thought that us Durants won't welcome you into our humble family circle," he mocked.
He leaned forward and rested his elbow on the table. The light above us cast a shadow across his stone face.
"Let me tell you something," he said in a low voice. A nascent seriousness spread through the valley of his cheekbones as his hand motioned to the rhythm of his words: "We're not humble. We're not welcoming."
Agonizing, heavy anxiety settled into the wheatyellow marrow in the cavities of my bones.
"For all your years, we lived in your photographs and in our father's stories. Doesn't mean we're yours."
Admittedly, this was not the man I expected to meet when I fantasized about my siblings. I expected a lighthearted man, someone who had the privilege of growing up without make-believe familial roles. I also expected him to be excited to meet me and pleased by the notion he had a second sister. But as my therapist always preaches, expectations can be horrible things.
I grew up in London with my mum and a father who visited once a month -- twice if I was lucky, if the stars aligned, and if a pig or two fell from the sky into the River Thames. My parents weren't married. Until the age of fourteen, I was under the illusion that my parents were lovebirds who wanted to get married when the time and financials were right. I knew I had siblings because my father left me photos of my brothers and sister so I could play make-believe. I wasn't much of a drawer so I didn't connect the dots until snarky teenage girls connected the dots and added new dots to my already spotty life. In a quintessentially rude teenage manner, my friends told me my absentee-father wasn't going to marry my mum and perhaps she was his mistress.
"What?" I asked Trinity, the leader of our clique. "What do you mean 'mistress'?"
"You know, she's his lady on the side."
"On the side?" I asked, gawking. This was an alternate reality I had not previously considered.
"He probably visits your mom secretly. You were probably an accident," she said with extra emphasis on the probably's to pretend she wasn't one thousand percent sure of my parents' love life.
"An accident? What do you mean by any of this?"
"Your parents had sex and didn't mean to have a baby is what I mean!" she said a bit too loudly and with too much frustration, causing the table of boys beside us to tune-in to the conversation and the girls at the other end of our table to lean to the left for easy-access listening.
I sat straight up in the backless bench and brought a hand to my mouth, like one of the girls on the posters outside the nurse's office with the overly bold headline "IF YOU SEE SOMETHING, SAY SOMETHING."
"Oh," I said, not sure how to continue. "You're probably right." Probably.
"Well," I said after a brief period of silence. Darragh finished his wine. I observed his posture; his arrowstraight spine held the heaviness on his shoulders.
"To be honest," he said after placing the empty glass on the table. "I'm not hungry."
He twisted the neck of the glass between his forefinger and thumb. He wore a ring on his right middle finger embossed with an insignia I couldn't decipher from across the table.
"Shortly before you introduced yourself at the other restaurant we had just finished our meal."
"Sorry for interrupting."
The evening had spiraled out of control. I was deranged to think I could introduce myself to a man I didn't know and he would adapt my story into his. A fictionalized version of Darragh existed in my world but I didn't exist in his, fictionalized or otherwise.
He asked the waiter for the cheque and politely paid for our glasses of wine. Then we left.
It was a chilly October evening but a temperature familiar to those of us from the UK.
"Where do you live?" he asked, exhaling tobacco smoke into the brittle, pumpkinspiced October air.
"The Harvie Building."
"The Harvie, eh? My company provided the metal for that building years ago."
"Must be a dense building," I muttered.
We stopped walking about two blocks from my apartment. It was a mutual stopping point; we both slowed to a pause on the corner of the block under a streetlight. I crossed my arms and he stood with his hands in his pockets.
"Well," I said. He didn't say anything but read my face. "I'm glad we met."
He nodded. Darragh looked at the sky cut by airplane wings, his jawline sharpened by the shadow of the streetlight. Then he looked at me. He touched the brim of his hat and nodded it downward, a gesture formalized by a man of metal, bones cast in raw lead and skin like a wrought iron gate repudiating anyone who wanted to be part of his life.
I watched him walk down the block, hands pocketed, head down in reminiscence, disappearing into the quiet city emptied by the aging evening.
"Can you imagine it?" I asked my mum after school one day. Excitement spilled over like water from the teakettle when she left it to boil for too long. "Five siblings. Most people only have a brother or a sister -- but I have five of 'em!"
I didn't realize it then but looking back on instances like that one I can see the morose wrinkles in my mum's face from the way her lips crunched to one side, or how she kept her eyes on the floor and refrained from saying much of anything.
"Yes -- five is a lot."
She never told me to stop talking about them as if they were my family. She never said, Look, Siobhan, calm down with this family nonsense because you don't really have a family. Your father has a family, but it doesn't mean you do.
My mum's name is Saoirse. It's a traditional Irish name with a pronunciation that would give my therapist an aneurysm. It's pronounced Seer-sha. The beauty of an Irish name can be judged by an American's pronunciation of it. Names like Caoimhe ("Quee-Vah") or Sadhbh ("Sive") are tens on the scale and throw Americans for a loop. They'd call the name Sadhbh clunky and I wouldn't blame them. The 'h'-'b' pairing doesn't work in the land of the free, home of the brave. A child named Sadhbh in America would never find her name on one of those gold necklaces from Disney World or on a license plate in a Times Square gift shop. I went to school in London with a girl named Sadhbh, a transplant from Cork, Ireland. Her family was moving to America because of her father's job.
"I'm going to start spelling my name how it's supposed to be pronounced so my new American friends know how say it without me explaining," she declared. We were in art class working on a project involving the color wheel.
"How would you spell it?"
"S-I-V-E." She said each letter as she wrote them with a purple paint pen.
"What's your brother going to do?" I asked her. Her brother's name was Tadhg.
"He's going to ask to be called Tiger," she said. Tadhg is pronounced "tie-g," like the first syllable of his proposed new name.
"And your mum?"
Sadhbh laughed. She clicked the cap on the pen.
"I'm not sure what she'll do."
Her mum's name was Aoibheann, pronounced "Aeve-een," perhaps the softest and airiest of Irish names. I can only imagine my therapist trying to process that one. "That's all the time we have for today," she'd say before collapsing in her taupe suede high-back chair. Then a representative from Restoration Hardware would rush in to replace the chair with a chaise lounge so she could proceed with her day, requiring a recumbent position from the shock of a name like Aoibheann.
My name is a dead giveaway that I'm one thousand percent Irish. But I grew up in London. I've never been to Ireland, I don't have the semi-mandatory red locks or freckles, and when I speak I don't soften my vowels, curl my R's, nor whistle through my T's like Winnie the Pooh's friend Gopher.
I'm an American now so I have to formulate metaphors using American themes:
If life is a hot dog -- just the dog itself -- family is the bun: the part of life that helps you hold yourself together. Condiments are everything else in life. When you're a child, you throw everything on the hotdog, dousing it with ketchup and pickles and chocolate chips and a half-eaten cupcake and whatever else your mom left on the counter by accident until you learn what's good and what isn't, what works well and what doesn't. And then for the rest of your life you choose a specific combination of condiments, without much wavering or substitution (unless necessary), until you die or become bored -- whichever comes first. Although pre-therapy Siobhan would argue death and boredom walk hand-in-hand down the boardwalk looking for hotdogs but can never agree on the place or condiments.
After rushing up the stairs of my brownstone to hide from the embarrassment I left on the street, I called my friend who was waiting at the cabin on Lake George, surrounded by balloons, streamers, and a melting ice cream cake. I gave a brief summary of my evening -- omitting a few details -- and told her I'd make it up there the next morning. She said to not worry.
I went to sleep that night feeling upset but not upset enough to do anything other than call my therapist to schedule an appointment for the following morning.
I had a mottled stream of sleep characterized by a dream about London. I was a on a ferry with my father on the River Thames. I leaned over a railing to take a photo of the red sun setting on the underline of the river. I leaned a bit too far -- as I was known to do in reality -- and fell into the river. I kicked and pushed at the water like a drowning duck but gained no momentum. I sunk deeper and deeper into the snotgreen depths, suspended for minutes on end, rationalizing death by drowning as the easiest way to go. Just as my opinion of drowning evolved into a pragmatic (albeit forcibly inevitable) decision, Darragh emerged out of the pitchblack, wrapped his body around mine and lifted us to the ceiling of the Thames. I gasped for air at the surface and wiped my eyes to look for the ferry and the frantic passengers scanning the water for my body; there was nothing but an expanse of water expanding outward in every direction. And then Darragh was gone.
I woke up sweating and promptly called my therapist who said I could come in right away while she had time before her next appointment. I planned to leave her office and catch the next train out of Grand Central, so I grabbed my weekend bag and locked the door behind me.
I exited the brownstone in a heavy daze and was incredibly startled to see Darragh sitting on the second-to-bottom step. I exhaled exasperatedly and made my way down the stairs.
"I have somewhere to be," I said as I passed him, intending to continue on my way.
He stood up and dusted the back of his jacket.
"I'm sorry," he said. I stopped two sidewalk squares away from him and turned around.
"How did you know I lived here?" I asked.
"My company supplied the metal for this building," he said.
"Oh, yes, you said that."
I pushed my hands into my jacket and pretended to be both bored and in a rush.
"Why did you want to meet me?" he asked. His brow furrowed and he looked concerned and uncomfortable with the impending answer to his question.
"Up until yesterday you were a character in a ridiculous story my father told me. I knew what you looked like, how you did in school, what musicians you liked, where you went on holiday, and countless other artifacts dad had on hand."
I was angry that I missed my birthday party, angry that Darragh was someone I didn't like, and angrier that I was someone he didn't like, either.
"If you knew me, I would have been part of your life in the same way you were part of mine," I said, disenchanted with all of it. "You were characters to me, a family in a storybook I could believe in."
I held my hands up as if to signal my disappointment or to surrender. "But I can't believe in you."
During my first therapy session, it had been hard to get my footing. I spent most of the appointment examining the palm of my hand. I noticed ridges and creases that hadn't been there before and wondered if they were caused by stress, much like the lines on my forehead, or if I kept my hands clenched without knowing it and over time the skin began to loosen, tired of tautness.
In one of the imaginary playdates I had with Maeve, she read my palm. She told me the creases on the edge of my hand just below my pinky finger were symbolic of how many children I'd bear. I imagined her running the tip of her forefinger along the double crease-line on my right hand and examining the curious single crease on my left hand. She'd tell me hands are symmetrical -- one mirrors the other. The single crease was confusing and led astray the entire palm reading. She said, how can I give you an accurate reading if the evidence presented isn't what it seems? I said, maybe I'll have just one kid. She said, a single child, eh? And then I told her, yes, yes just one child for me, because I'd rather my child have his own unshadowed space and unique gravitational pull. Then I got honest with her: I've spent too much of my life orbiting around you, Maeve, and it's about time I create my own gravity to pull at the oceans of memories that don't really exist. And you know what, Maeve? If I had more than one child, I think I'd let them down.
And because I didn't know Maeve, I didn't know what she would have said to me next. After I stepped out of my imaginary space and found myself sitting on my bedroom floor with no one but myself, I realized it wasn't a child I was afraid of letting down, it was me.
"I'm sorry," Darragh said.
Fog rolled through the avenues between the brownstones and hushed the green hues of his irises, glinting like riverstones.
He reached into his pocket and pulled out a photograph. He handed it over as if it were a white flag.
"What's this?" I asked before taking it.
"You said our father gave you a photo of us when we were kids," he said. "I wanted to give you a new one."
Halfway stunned, I took the photo in my hand.
The five Durants were lined up along the unmistakable edge of the Cliffs of Moher. Maeve was flanked by her four brothers and sat on the top plank of the fence with her hands on her brothers' shoulders beside her for balance. Edgar was to the right of Maeve and dramatically leaned against the fence with his arms crossed in front of him, trying very hard to keep a smile at bay as to maintain faux seriousness. Cian was grinning on the other side of Maeve with a football tucked under his arm, probably for a toss with his brothers in the open field leading up to the cliffs. Finnegan was next to Cian at the left end of the group, a teenager with a cunning smirk. His elbow rested on Cian's shoulder as if he were a kickstand. Darragh was on the end near the right edge of the photo standing with his hands in the pockets of his slacks, both feet planted on the ground and vaguely smiling.
I'd been to the Cliffs of Moher once and took a similar picture, except I was alone and surrounded by tourists, a few grazing cows and my father behind the camera lens.
Was I supposed to use this photo of faces as the new foundation on which to base my stories?
"Thank you," I said, looking at him. He nodded.
"I wrote my number on the back in case you want to visit London," he said.
I was too overwhelmed by his offer to respond. I was still holding the photograph with both hands and stared at Darragh.
"We live all over Europe now, but I could arrange a gathering… a reunion of sorts," he said.
And with that, a sob rushed into me.
I lunged at him, flung my arms around his neck and crushed against his body. He stumbled backwards but gained his balance as I clung to him.
"Thank you," I mumbled into the fabric of his jacket, unsure if he could hear me.
"You're welcome, Siobhan."
After I composed myself I explained I was actually in a hurry to catch a train (I decided to forgo the therapy session). Darragh said he'd walk with me to Grand Central; he had several hours before his flight back to London late in the afternoon.
Our walk was narrated by Darragh's remarks about Manhattan's "unique culture" and how it was an "encyclopedia of every odor." I was comfortable listening to him and even more comfortable saying nothing. The relationship I had with my siblings was constructed out of childhood stories spoken aloud in my bedroom as if they were sitting with me. It was nice to hear one of them tell me something for a change.
When we arrived at Grand Central, I hugged him goodbye. Even though we spent some time together, he was almost as stiff with seriousness as he was when we first met.
"I'm sorry," I said.
"For knowing you existed for all these years but doing nothing about it."
"But you did do something about it."
"It just took me twenty-eight years."
"Better than fifty-eight. I'd probably be dead if you waited long," Darragh joked. Darragh Durant made a joke.
I smiled at the absurdity of it.
So did he.
It's hard to imagine who I would be if I grew up in the same home as Darragh, Edgar, Maeve, Cian and Finnegan. It's harder to imagine who I would be if I didn't know they existed. In my childhood I lived in an ocean of memories: Maeve and I going to the National Theatre for a musical, Edgar teaching me how to throw a punch into a teddy bear (for practice), hopping fences and learning how to throw a football with Cian, toting Finn around on my hip before cooing him into a nap, and with Darragh -- learning how to be resolute.
The train reached the outskirts of New York City's last borough and rattled toward Lake George. The sun cast stripes of white paint across my hands as it flickered through the buildings framing the train tracks. As the morning unraveled like thread from a spool, I curled into the shape of my weatherworn memories and sailed into sleep to avoid any possible sighting of another familiar someone.
M C R
This work is copyrighted by the author, Laura Pavlo. All rights reserved.