The Man Who Wasn’t There – Part 16

the-man-who-wasnt-thereBrian wakes from the ritual, two hours later, to find Jordan frantic and everyone else concerned. He tells them what he saw, but has no idea if he summoned the Peddler or not.

Their parents had left them alone. They sat in the living room, clinging to one another.

“What happened, Brian? Where did you go?”

“I don’t know, Jordan. I don’t know.”

Brian woke the next morning with Jordan in his arms. She lay with her head on his chest, her hair loose around them in a thick, brown tangle. He was dressed in his pajama pants, but he couldn’t remember how he’d gotten to bed. The last thing he remembered was Jordan asking him where he’d been. Hours later, he still had no idea.

Jordan stirred, stretching. Her right hand nearly clipped him in the chin. He grabbed her arm gently, keeping it from jabbing him. She gasped, sitting up quickly. Laughing, she leaned over and kissed him.

“Sorry about that. I’m used to waking up alone.”

“How did we end up here?”

“You nearly passed out on me, so I helped you up the stairs. Then I didn’t want to leave you alone. You weren’t too steady on your feet.”

“Did I dress myself?”

“I helped.” She smirked and went to the bathroom.

Brian groaned. Head in hands, he sat on the edge of the bed until Jordan came back. She tried to hug him, but he dashed to the bathroom, shutting the door quickly. Leaning on the sink, he stared at himself in the mirror. He wasn’t sure, but he thought there was something different about his eyes. It was almost as if someone else stared out of them, seeing what he saw. It was so disconcerting, he tried closing his eyes when he peed. That didn’t end well.

Jordan wasn’t in his room when he came out, but he heard her downstairs talking to his mother. He dressed quickly and joined them in the kitchen. Maribelle was just taking out a pan of muffins.

“Morning, sleepy son. How are you feeling?” She set the muffins on the counter and felt his face with her hand.

“I’m fine, Mom.” He pulled away from her motherly ministrations. “Honest, I’m fine.”

“How did he sleep?” she asked Jordan.

“Well. Quietly. He didn’t even talk in his sleep.”

Maribelle nodded. Miles came in a moment later with Elise in his arms. She reached for Brian, launching herself at him. Laughing, he caught her as she flew from their father’s arms.

“Careful, little bit. One day, I might miss and then where will you be?”

“Bree,” she gurgled, patting his face. “Bree!”

“Is she trying to say your name?” Jordan asked. “That’s so cool!”

“Bree!” Elise chortled, smacking her brother on the lips.

“Elise!” he countered, rubbing noses. “Best baby sister in the world!” He danced around with her in his arms. Spinning closer to Jordan, he held her with one arm as he balanced Elise with the other. “Two of my three favorite girls. Sorry, Mom. I don’t have three arms.”

“She can dance with me,” Miles said, sweeping Maribelle into his arms.

They danced and capered around the room. The only dance Brian knew was the waltz, so he spun Jordan around in an awkward rendition and hummed the Blue Danube. Laughing, she tossed back her head as they circled the kitchen together. Elise giggled and clapped.

“Bree!” she chortled. “Jo!” she touched Jordan’s cheek with her chubby fingers.

“Oh, my God, she said my name too!” Jordan didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. Filled with mixed emotions, she did both.

Brian stopped dancing. “Babe, are you okay?”

“She said my name too,” Jordan said, tears muffling her words.

“You’re family,” Maribelle said, taking the baby from Brian. “Of course, she would say your name.” She hugged Jordan, kissing her on the head.

Brian took Elise once more, putting her in her high chair. He got her a bottle and a bowl of applesauce while his mother and Jordan hugged and cried.

He didn’t understand women at all. How was it such a big deal? Yeah, it was cool that Elise said their names, but it wasn’t worth crying over. Shaking his head, he fed the baby a bite of applesauce. Jordan dried her eyes and got them each a mug of coffee. He thanked her and gave Elise another bite.

“Thank you for my dance,” Jordan said. “That was fun. We should do that more often.”

“Sadly, that’s the only dance I know.”

“You know the Peddler dance,” Jordan replied with a smirk.

“Don’t remind me. Not exactly something I can take with me to the Halloween Ball.”

Jordan giggled. “Why not? Teach it to all our friends and we could start our own fad.”

He chuckled. “They’d probably think we were flat crazy.”

“They’d be right about you. Stark raving bonkers, that’s what you are.”

“Not denying it. What’s your excuse?”

“I hooked up with you. Bound to make anyone lose her mind.”

They laughed. Elise giggled, banging her bottle on the tray of her highchair.

Maribelle brought them each a plate, piled high with the things they loved the most, not the last of which as a mound of bacon on a plate between them.

© 2017 Dellani Oakes 

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