Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Black Sheep: Part 1 The Drive

I, Michael David Edwards, am a successful manager at a local advertisement firm. I am paid well and provided for my family. I drive a modest car and live in a modest home. I am content. I don’t need the fancy car or the mansion house. All I need is my wife and children. I am good. I’m 6’ with an athletic build. I have black hair that graying around the edges but the girls at the office tell me it gives me a distinguished look. I think they were trying to make me feel better. I’m 45 years old but I feel as young as ever.

I sighed as I drove down the highway. What lies we tell ourselves? Am I successful? Sure but when you stack me against my younger brother, the lawyer, and my baby sister, the psychologist, I’m just the average Joe. The oldest child who failed to be a success. Everyone ignores the fact that I worked my way through the firm from the mailroom (an average place to start my brother would snide) but now I’m the manager of an advertisement team within Creative Enterprises. Did you see that new burger commercial? That was my team! I am very proud of that commercial if I do say so myself.

But here I am, driving to my parents’ house for brunch. To give them the news I’m sure will shock them. I can almost hear my mother’s voice, “Oh, Michael, how could you?” Doesn’t matter what age you are, when your mother uses that tone, you revert back to a 5 year old who was just caught with his hand in the cookie jar. I was always a disappointment to my mother. Even though I’m the oldest and science was shown that oldest children are often the favorites. It’s just not the case with my mother. When my brother was born, he was the golden child and I was pushed aside. Then when my sister arrived, I was pushed even further. I was the forgotten child. Isn’t that supposed to be the middle child? Once again, my family decides to do things ass backwards. I am closer with my father, who was quietly denied access to his other children.

I pull off the highway and drive into a grocery store parking lot. I’m a few blocks from my parents’ house and I need time to collect my thoughts. I pull out my wallet and look at the last Christmas family portrait. I stand in the background, smiling proudly. My beautiful wife, Lisa, in front of me with her arms around our twin boys. Her golden brown hair styled perfectly, her beautiful blue eyes sparkled. Lisa is just as pretty as the day I met her. I met her in college. She was young and full of ideas and plans. We got married after graduation and she went to work as a charity event planner. She can charmed and smile her way into people’s hearts and minds. But behind that smile is a venom that no man can survive.

I turn my gaze to my children. Emily, the oldest, is daddy’s girl. She’s twelve and has a wisdom beyond her years. She is as pretty as her mother but with a heart of gold. She would help any wounded creature if we allowed her too. My twin boys. The surprise of our lives. After Emily was born, Lisa declared she was done having kids. No more. Then right after Emily started kindergarten, Lisa discovered she was pregnant again. I was ecstatic but had to hide my joy. Lisa was miserable. Then she turned evil after we discovered it was twins. Ethan and Joshua are now the spitting image of me at seven but every now and then I see a hint of Lisa in their smiles. And not in a good way. After they were born, Lisa was different. She turned her attention to the boys and ignored Emily.

I stopped. Ignored Emily? Just like my mother ignored me? Oh my god, I did marry my mother? I hang my head. Oh, boy! Did I make a mess of my life? I can hear my brother’s voice, “That’s Michael!” And he’d laugh like it was the greatest joke you’ve ever heard. That’s my life. The greatest joke you’ve ever heard. I sigh as I turn the key. Let’s get this over with.

I soon turn down my parents’ street. The street curves to the left from the golf course where my dad would spend every day since his retirement. I think so that he wouldn’t have to be home with my mother. Each house is carefully painted and the lawns are beautifully manicured. Beautiful rose bushes are in bloom at Old Man Wicks’ house. I smile. He was a mean old man but once you learned his story, you’d be mean too. Through the oak trees, the house comes into view. The house where I grew up and the house I dreaded coming to today. I pull up to the curb. With a sigh, I turn to look at the house. The brick house with its white door stood proudly in the morning sun. Once I cross the threshold, there was no going back. I get out of the car and before I make it to the driveway, my mother comes out the front out.

My mother, Mary, is a beautiful 65 years old. She’s still young and vibrant. Her beautiful auburn hair turned grey quite a few years ago but her green eyes still shine with the fire that her hair once was. I love her dearly but there always was a part of her that I wasn’t allowed to be a part of. It was like I was told, this is your section, don’t stray across the borders. She rushes to hug me.

“Oh, Michael. How good it is to see you? How’s Lisa? The kids? Too bad they couldn’t come with you today.”

“I know, Mom. The kids are still in school and Lisa had a charity luncheon today”

Mom laughs breathlessly, “Oh, that Lisa. What marvelous things she does with that charity of hers.”

I laugh nervously.

“Now, Mary, don’t drown the poor boy with questions” came the booming voice of my father. I turn to smile. Robert Edwards is a big, burly man. His clear blue eyes still shined with youth despite his body showing his 75 years. I could tell my dad looked tired and wearily.

“Hi Dad, how are you?” as I put my hand out. He took my hand and gave me a grip that was much weaker than last time I saw him. He replied with the usual “can’t complain.” Right!

We all walk into the kitchen where Mother has set up the table with various fruits, croissants and scones. My mother quickly busied herself with getting us settled. “Would you like coffee or tea?”

“Coffee, Mary. Men always have coffee. Right, son?” my dad chuckled.

“Coffee, please”

Mother quickly set everything on the table and began distributing the food. “So, what important news do you have to tell us?”

I look at both their faces, eager with anticipation. I took a deep breath and began.

“Ok, the thing is…”