Advent Stories #5 | Family Ties

‘To what do I owe this pleasure?’ Brodie and Anais are sitting to breakfast at his hotel. He has been back two days and his siblings have not let up on the whole checking in thing. It’s exhausting. He’ll be glad for the work distraction come Monday.

‘Have you spoken to Mum?’

‘No I haven’t I just got back.’

‘Brodie you’ve been back two days and you haven’t called your mother? You know it’s only a matter of time before she finds out.’

‘I’m not hiding from her, I just you know…I need to lay low and I don’t need mum being all mum about it.’

‘And dad?’

‘Same energy.’ Brodie’s tone is short and Anais gets the message.

‘I’m not trying to start anything Brodie, I am simply trying to understand what your game plan is. I know, I know, it’s your life and you’re an adult, we all are, but we can’t help but worry about you. You leave your life in New York and return-’

‘I am not returning home, I am only here for Christmas and before you start I am allowed whatever time I need to get over this. My fiancée dumped me at the altar, couldn’t even say my name. So maybe I followed her here, maybe I am on some kind of twisted shit to punish myself, but this is how I’m dealing with it. Before I bring mom and dad into this, this is how I want to deal with it so please step off.’

‘I’ll step off, but you need to speak to mom.’ Anais presses, unbothered by her brother’s shortness.

‘Why are you harping on about that?’ This is more than just speaking to their mother, this is more than just breakfast, his sister is trying to tell him something without telling him. ‘What was that look Isabel and Logan exchanged the other night?’

‘Call your mother. She deserves to know that her son, the same son she witnessed being dumped at the altar, is back home, for the holidays. Call her Brodie.’

‘Fine I’ll call her. I’ll do you one better and go see her. Thanks for not telling her that I’m in town.’

‘I wouldn’t do that to you.’

They eat in silence for a moment, the issue gnawing at Brodie as he ate.

‘How are she and dad doing?’

‘Same. Some days she hates him other days they are simply cold, she hates that he is moving on, but he is trying to please her and in so doing pisses off his wife.’

‘They’ve been divorced for five years now-’

‘Mom can’t get over that, no matter what the press say about Leila Sterling, powerful and fulfilled as she may be, she is still mad at him and she hates that he moved on from her.’

‘They were hardly happy together. The divorce was amicable.’

‘You mean right after he told her he was leaving her for no other reason other than he didn’t love her after thirty years of marriage, five children and eight grandchildren. Is that what you think is amicable?’

Brodie shrugs, he hasn’t thought about it, when it comes to their parents, they, his siblings and him, pretty much stay out of it; they learnt not to take sides. Every year since the divorce, they choose what parent to spend what time of the year with, it has worked so far- their mother gets Christmas, father; Easter, and all is right with the world.

‘Do you really not know your mother Brodie?’

‘Stop talking like that.’

‘Like what?’

‘Like I don’t know mom.’

‘You, Elliot, and Logan, maybe not Logan, but you and Elliot certainly have your head buried in the sand when it comes to mom and her true colours.’

‘You talk as if we didn’t all grow up in the same house.’

‘We didn’t. Three boys went off to boarding school whilst Isabel and I stayed at home because mom is twisted that way. You went off to New York in the name of love and we were left in close proximity to deal with the war between our parents, so yes brother dearest we didn’t grow up in the same household, privileged as we all are, nothing about our upbringing was conventional or, for that matter, happy.’

‘Don’t say that.’ Brodie does not like hearing his sister talk like that about their upbringing, even if it is the truth. Their parents worked hard, were hardly around for their most formative years, they were raised by a team of nannies and assistants. Their mother was often always away, CEO of her family’s luxury goods company, Sterling, she travels the world, visiting plants, on buying trips, fashionable parties and what have you. Their father, a surgeon, lives half his life in the theatre, celebrated in the medical world. For both their parents it felt as if they fell into having children like a thing on the to-do list, a pause, and once they were done they simply went about life as if it was business as usual. As privileged as their lives were growing up; boarding schools, private schools, nannies, chauffeurs, mansions…they lacked in a lot of respects, but the for closeness of the siblings. ‘I’ll go see mum.’

‘You should.’ Anais wants to tell her brother what she witnessed on his wedding day and possibly why Blu did what she did, but that is a conversation for their mother to have with her son. She’d hoped that day would go off without a hitch, that everything would be as perfect as it seemed, but it wasn’t to be and only three people know what happened. Their mother is one of them.