The ramshackle VW bus, its Westfalia pop top rattling and threatening to break loose, wallowed up my driveway like some battered freighter seeking harbor. It came to a stop and made a short, sharp knock, its engine unwilling. There was a lurch toward my garage door, the sound of a brake being engaged, then nothing. The windows of the bus were veiled in macrame. I thought I saw one of the veils move, hazel eyes peer out. I stood at the screen door wondering whether I should back away, close my front door, pretend I wasn’t home. Should I step out on to the porch?
The driver’s side door opened with a bang as if kicked. I wondered what my neighbors saw. My long lost brother, his bare foot breaching, followed by a left leg, clad only in cut off jeans. I imagined a ten-year beard tumbling down his chest, his dirty blond hair in matted ropes. The last time I’d seen him he’d only had a scruff of a beard and wore a muscle shirt and sandals along with his cut offs. Our mother was dying. I had scolded him for coming to the hospital looking like a tramp. When he stood up to go, I had stood in his way, thinking I could heal the rift between us, cover the thorns.
“Be responsible, for once,” I had said.
“I never liked the old bitch, anyway,” he had said, “Get out of the way.”
I wouldn’t move, so he punched me in the eye. The frames of my glasses had cut into my cheek. When I heard him leave, I thought I was crying, but I was bleeding. Our mother died without him, and, without him, I took care of the mess of her estate.
Now he came around the front of his van, clean shaven, in work boots, jeans, a blue denim shirt. He looked toward my screen door, then to the van. He slid the rusty skinned passenger door back to reveal a boy and a girl, the boy thin and sandy-haired, the girl fat and dark like me. The girl had some sort of bear. She squeezed it tight to her chest. It made a brief, plaintive mewl. I opened the screen door and stepped out onto the porch.
The trio formed at the sidewalk and approached across my grass. They stopped briefly and looked up.
My brother scanned my face for scars. He spoke –
“You gonna let us in, Ada?”
I looked at the girl. I looked at the boy. I nodded.
Nan Wigington’s recent work has been published in Pithead Chapel and Spelk.