Writing Prompt: Something Beneath the Surface

It’s not my fault they don’t like me. I always do the right thing by them. I’m a good sister, a good aunt, a good friend. Every birthday I send a card. I used to send a gift too, something special that I’d spotted, or something that I’d made myself. There used to be phone calls to thank me, then it was the odd note or card. Now all I get is silence. It isn’t fair. After all I’ve done, the interest that I’ve shown in them and their lives across the years.

When did I see them last? Oh, it was the Christmas two years ago now. I’d popped down on Christmas Eve, as I always do. Did. It was the usual family gathering but there were some new faces. My nieces and nephews, you see, they’ve started to pair up and settle down. My eldest niece, Clara, well she used to have this lovely boyfriend called Jake. He was well brought-up with good manners. But Jake wasn’t there. Instead Clara’s got a new fella, a mountain of a man, all beard and tattoos. All he wore whilst I was there were footy shorts and ripped singlets.

So I asked Clara about Jake. She was short with me, said it had ended months ago and could I leave it alone please. And I tried. But there was something about Travis – that was his name, that tattooed tree trunk – that got on my nerves. I’ve been around long enough, you see. I’ve never married but I’m a good judge of character. And I knew that Travis was bad news.

Christmas Day passed by in the usual flurry of presents, food and festivities. Boxing Day is a laid back affair with friends of the family dropping in for a BBQ and a swim. I asked Clara if Jake was coming and she hissed at me to give it up. Then Travis rumbled into the kitchen, holding an empty beer bottle and belching. I tell you, it made me shudder. Clara is a lovely girl, don’t get me wrong, but not as good at summing up people as I am.

When I asked my sister about what happened with Jake she gave me the short shrift too. I couldn’t understand why none of them couldn’t see what was so obvious to me. Clara was with the wrong man. So I thought I’d give the situation a little nudge. I had Jake’s number in my address book. He’d helped me out a couple of times with some odd jobs around the place. He was obliging and so polite. I gave him a call and said he’d be welcome if he dropped in. There were people coming and going all day.

None of them talk to me now. It was one mistake, an error of judgement. I can still see the flash of the blue lights of the police cars reflected against the front windows of the house. The outdoor setting tossed around the yard, plates broken, smashed glass everywhere. The sticky pools of blood. I tremble whenever I picture it. How was I to know that things would end this way?

They turned on me, my family. Said it was the last time I was to meddle in their lives. I was only trying to do the right thing. It wasn’t my fault.

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