Chapter 8

The cousins began moving in over the next week one-by-one.  Beatrice or her mother saw each of them, as they arrived and were forced into uncomfortable, unavoidable interactions with them.  Surprisingly, Beatrice’s routine was not grossly interrupted; in fact, the arrival of her cousins created a routine palaver with her mother each evening to exchange notes on the cousins.

Thursday, Beatrice arrived home at 5:23, walked into her apartment hoping to find her mother developing an appropriate hobby – involving being fully clothed – like pruning a bonsai tree, and prepared to be bombarded with her mother’s tales.  Her mother was already a buzz, appearing frazzled and scattered.  As she fluttered between the pantry and the stove, Pepe under one arm and a wooden spoon in her hand stirring a potent concoction, she spewed “Janelle moved into the neighborhood today!  I saw her moving into the apartment building across the street, but none of her siblings were with her… I thought they always traveled together… No!  Instead she had three small children and a man with her.”

“So they started to arrive,” Beatrice pondered with a woeful sigh.  Her mother was right, they had always traveled together before, therefore Janelle being by herself was unusual, but Janelle was a few years older than Beatrice, so children seemed logical.

“I know you didn’t just see them, Mother, you can’t just see one of our cousins and then pull the curtains back,” Beatrice said as she sat at the table, which her mother had covered with a vibrant floral tablecloth and a vase of wildflowers that made Beatrice sneeze, “What happened?”

“Pepe and I were skipping back from the park – he loves to skip – and we saw the moving truck.  I didn’t think anything of it until we skipped past it and a child on a bike zoomed across our path.  He ran over poor little Pepe’s paw!  I was going to scold him and suggest that he get a horn; they make bike horns now with the great sounds, to warn pedestrians, but as I turned I saw Janelle.”

Janelle was the most friendly of Beatrice’s cousins, and generally attempted kindness, but ended up being unintentionally awful – unlike the rest of her family, who were extremely intentional.  For instance, Beatrice and Janelle played middle school volleyball together.  Right before the big game, Janelle suggested they practice together.  While practicing, Janelle hit the ball so far, Beatrice ran into a street light and got a concussion, putting her on the bench for rest of the season.

“Janelle squealed when she saw me, ‘Aunt Te-Te!’ I hate that name just say Tess for goodness sake. ‘What a pleasant surprise seeing you here!’  Sure – pleasant is the word.  Anyway, she introduced me to her clan, three boys and her husband.”

“Did she say where they’ve been?”

“No, just like before.”

-M.R. Gavin

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