Kin

She guess she kind of needed a big sister after all.

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Kin is short, but beautiful word. The ‘n’ at the end draws it inward, like the word is resonating with you even after you finish saying it. It means more than family (though that’s how I defined it). Kin is home. It’s more than blood or banner. It’s belonging. I think that’s the one thing that we struggle the most to find in our lives.

Without further ado, Butterscotch on the Beach.    

  

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Butterscotch on the Beach

Kin (n): Family

She didn’t know why she said yes.

No, that wasn’t right…

Maybe she should say that she regretted saying yes. Then it wouldn’t sound like she was evading the blame.

She had always felt this sense of detachment. Like she was missing something. Like she wasn’t interconnected on the same level as everyone else. Like she was a mixed up puzzle piece accidentally sealed into the same box.  

She craved connection. To feel as though she was part of more. Like she was normal.

Her parents didn’t believe in her. They would never see her as anything more than a child. It hurt sometimes, knowing that she would never have the quiet confidence of their trust like her older siblings did.

Maybe that’s why she had said yes.

To prove that she could handle herself.

(To them or herself, she didn’t know)

It was just supposed to be a bonfire night. She and her boyfriend (Ted was it? No, that was the last one. This one was Jo something or the other.) She and her boyfriend Jo— had arrived there, and he had somehow convinced her to have a beer (even though they were underage).

Why had she said yes?

The rest of the night had devolved into a haze of booze and broken glass. Now, she sat at the precinct praying for maybe the first time in her life.

She was past the age where she could say she was just dragged into it. She had said yes.

Her parents were going to freak.

Especially because they had said no when she had asked them if she could go. But there had always been a wonderfully tall Birch near her window, well-suited to climbing.

After possibly the worst two hours in her life, she had been let out with a mere warning. She tried not to think it was because of who her parents were.

She didn’t know what was going to happen to Jo—.

He didn’t exactly have the most inculpable record.

All she knew was she would have to call someone to pick her up.

She finished her prayer and reached for her cell-phone.

With shaky fingers, she typed the familiar string of numbers that meant home, trying to postpone the impending call as much as possible.

Finally, the dial tone began ringing.

Maybe no one was going to pick up?

A queasy mix of relief and horror washed over her.

It crashed when she heard the voice on the other end call out a sleepy greeting.

It was her older sister.

Again, she didn’t know if she should be relieved or horrified.

“L-lia… C-can you come pick me up?”

She could feel the nerve-wracking silence pressing in between them. She tried to sniff back her tears so Lia wouldn’t think she was crying, but the sound seemed to jolt her sister back into speech.

[Of course. Where are you?]

“The p-police station. On Beatles Avenue.”

[Okay. I’m coming right away. Do you want me to stay with you on the phone?]

May was a little shocked. She thought Lia wasn’t very fond of her. They had never been especially close sisters… Especially after…

Of course she’s being nice, May scolded herself. She at least has to put up a show of caring.

“No. I’ll be fine.”

[Are you sure? I don’t—]

“Yes,” she said, brusquely cutting through her sister’s soft words.

Maybe Lia would change her mind about picking her up if she continued like this, but she didn’t care.

[Okay. I’ll be there soon.]

The end tone rang, and May curled up around her dirt-stained jacket, trying not to sob.

She could probably threaten Lia not to bring this up to Mom and Dad. She’d just have to sneak back to her room and shower and change.

She just wanted this nightmare to end soon.

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Lia was there in under ten minutes, though May remembered it being a twenty minute drive.

She rushed forward, looking like she was about to wrap May up in her arms, but hesitated uncertainly in front of her.

May scoffed, walking past her sister out to the eggshell white volkswagen beetle her sister drove around.

“Can you just take me back to the house?”

Pursing her lips, Lia nodded and walked around to the driver’s seat.

Right outside the cold empty villa they called home some days and prison the others, Emilia stopped.

“Maybelline, what happened?”

“Why do you care?” she spat back, snarling like a cat.

“I don’t know… maybe because you’re my little sister?” Emilia bit back, a sarcastic edge in her voice that May had never heard before.

“There’s no one here to pretend in front of. You can stop this…”

May reached for the door, but Emilia had suddenly gripped her wrist with the strength of steel.

“I’m not pretending, May. I don’t plan on telling Mom or Dad if that’s what you’re worried about, but I need you to tell me what the hell happened tonight.”

“You don’t have a right to scold me! I don’t need you to be my big sister! We’re only a year apart! I can take care of myself!”

“Yeah… I can clearly see the results of you taking care of yourself.”

“You don’t have a right to judge me! At least I didn’t try to kil—”

May suddenly felt her head whip to the side.

She pressed a cool hand to her suddenly burning cheek.

Lia had just smacked her. Lia had just smacked her. She didn’t know which part of that she should be more shocked about.

“I’m sorry, May. But I felt like you were about to say something you were going to regret.”

Emilia’s pale eyes were suddenly glinting steel, and May realized the line she had just been about to cross.

She didn’t know if she should apologize or retaliate.

Lia took it out of her hands when her face crumpled. She leaned her forehead against the steering wheel.

“I’m sorry, Bell. I shouldn’t have done that…”

Lia’s voice was so guilty, May almost felt like forgiving her.

Instead, she huffed, reaching for her seatbelt buckle.

“Wait,” Lia called out, head still pressed against the steering wheel.

“What do you want now?” May asked coolly.

Lia sighed, putting the car in reverse.

“Just come with me.”

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They were at the ocean.

The water kissed the stretch of pale white sand like it was the cheek of a lover.

What was Lia planning on doing with her?

May had an absurd image of them battling it out on the sand, continuing their earlier spat with fists instead of words.

But Lia just reached into the trunk and pulled out two pairs of flip flops. She passed the purple ones with little pink roses to May while slipping the other, larger, darker pair over her own feet.

“Your boyfriend’s?” May asked a little curiously.

Emilia blushed but didn’t deign to reply.

Instead, she reached into a cooler and pulled out a plastic bag and a set of plastic utensils.

“Let’s go,” she said, slamming the boot shut.

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There was a broken little stone wall littered with seashells and with yellow wildflowers growing through the cracks of its fractured surface. The water lapped against it, nipping at their dangling feet.

May cradled a carton of ice cream in her hands, using an electric blue nail to scrape away at the melting frost on the outside surface.

Lia reached over with a plastic spork, spooning up some of the creamy yellow butterscotch.

“Who even eats butterscotch flavored ice cream?” May half-heartedly complained, swirling a dollop of it around in her mouth.

“Lots of people,” Lia replied matter-of-factly.

“Like Jay,” May teased.

“Oh, shut up,” Lia replied, looking out to the ocean, a smattering of pink over her cheeks.

May swallowed the cold glob of ice cream reaching for another spoonful.

“I should have said no,” she blurted out between mouthfuls.

Emilia looked up startled at the sudden declaration.

“I thought I could handle it… But… ”

May aggressively stuffed another mouthful of ice cream in her mouth, hoping she could freeze her face into place before it crumpled and she started crying.

Suddenly, the carton of ice cream was pried out of her hands and she was wrapped up in Lia’s arms.

“You must have been terrified. I’m so glad you’re okay,” Lia murmured, rubbing her back comfortingly.

Embarrassingly enough, that was the moment May began to cry.

She couldn’t stop for a long time after that.

Finally, Emilia drove them both home, and they snuck through the back, climbing up the birch to May’s room.

Before parting, Emilia squeezed May into one more hug, giving her a bright smile.

May felt embarrassed, but kind of happy.

Though she and Lia were only one year apart, it often felt like the distance between them was composed of much more than just 14 months.

But today, it was like that distance had diminished so much so that May felt comfortable enough to hug Lia back.

“Thanks for the save today. I guess I owe you one, Sis.”

The term felt warm on her tongue. Like a lozenge.

“You don’t owe me anything. It’s my job to save your butt every so often,” Emilia replied with a little sigh, before striding off to her room, sketching May a warm little grin as she left.

It was frustrating how even though they were only a year apart, May always felt so childish when she was with Emilia.

But maybe… just maybe… that was okay.

She guess she kind of needed a big sister after all.

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