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Thursday, November 22, 2012

In Brist's Time - Chapter 3

Chapter Three


“Brist Anne Southerland! I don’t know what you think you are doing, but Dad will definitely not be pleased!”
“Drew! What are you doing here?”
“The air conditioning isn’t working properly, so mom gave me directions to get here figuring a swim might cool me off, but never mind what I’m doing here, what are you doing, hmm?” Drew demanded.
“I’m swimming with my friends,” Brist said defensively. She was now sitting, hugging her knees to her chest. So was Belana, but Randy was trying to hide behind Brist.
“Swimming! That’s funny, cuz it looks to me like you’re naked, lying on a rock with a naked guy and another naked girl, and to make matters worse! My baby sister is kissing what has to be the first male she’s seen since she was dumped by her boyfriend of a year,” Drew said over-protectively. Belana saw the wounded look that fixed itself on Brist’s face at her brother’s words, and decided that she had had enough.
“Drew Southerland! I don’t know what you think you saw, but your sister, my cousin, and I were innocently tanning in the sun. You obviously don’t have much trust in your sister, so I will tell you, nothing was going on!” She snapped, angered by the fact that he was making them all feel like naughty toddlers than the near-adults that they were.
“Oh really? Nothing?” Drew asked in a condescending manner.
“Drew, you are absolutely disgusting! What do you think would happen? Did you think that I would have sex with her cousin right in front of her? Or did you think that she would join us?” Brist would have stamped her foot in anger if she hadn’t been sitting on her butt, trying to keep herself as covered as possible.
Drew stammered for a moment then grunted. “Well I came to swim, and I’m not leaving until I do,” he stated matter-of-factly.
“Fine, Drew, whatever. Could you just give us a few moments to get dressed?” Brist asked. She loved her brother dearly, but he could be so immature sometimes.
Drew nodded, then wandered off to a secluded spot to change into his swim trunks.
The three skinny-dippers took that moment to jump off the rock, wade to shore, and get dressed as quickly as possible. As soon as Drew deemed it safe, he returned to the pond and pulled Brist into an embrace.
“I’m sorry I went off like that, I was just freaked is all. I’m mean admit it, you would have been concerned if you’d been in my position, wouldn’t you?” He asked, sincerely sorry that he had over-reacted.
Brist nodded slowly. “I guess.”
“Hey listen, you guys don’t have to leave just yet,” Drew offered, not wanting to be left alone.
“Oh we weren’t going to, see? I brought a picnic lunch for us to enjoy.” Brist held up the basket she was about to unpack.
“Oh,” Drew uttered, then left them to swim in the pond alone for a while.
“Oh Belana! Of all the days for the a/c to break down!” Brist sighed.
“Yeah too bad, I was actually having fun. Question?”
“Yeah?”
“Were you and Randy actually kissing?” Belana asked curiously. “I mean I was half asleep and didn’t see or hear anything.”
Brist smiled and looked at Randy, who cleared his throat, and blushed.
“You were!” Belana exclaimed.
“Well, I could tell that it was his first real kiss, and I was trying to determine if Jesse had ruined me for other guys,” Brist said.
“Hey! It wasn’t my first kiss,” Randy protested in a whisper so that Drew wouldn’t hear. “Can we please talk about something else?”
“Sure. Um, thanks for today Brist, I’m glad Amy stormed off and left us to get to know you,” Belana told Brist.
“Yeah, me too. I’m having fun, and we rarely ever have fun around Amy,” Randy added, glad for the change in the conversation.
“You’re welcome, but don’t worry, today isn’t over yet,” Brist said as she unpacked their picnic lunch.
“Pack enough sandwiches,” Belana remarked dryly when she saw the heaping plate of them that Brist withdrew from the basket.
“What kind are they?” Randy asked.
Brist laughed. “Our cook makes hundreds of these sandwiches everyday for the servants to snack on. Egg salad sandwiches are a favorite among the servants, so is tuna.”
“Mmm, delicious,” Randy murmured.
“Mmhmm,” Belana agreed.
“What’s to drink?” Randy asked after the three had gorged themselves on the sandwiches and humorous conversation. Brist pulled a couple of fancy looking bottles out of the basket.
“Wine?” Belana giggled.
“Don’t worry guys, it’s non-alcoholic,” Drew said as he joined the group.
Belana and Randy made exaggerated sounds of disappointment, causing Brist to laugh.
“Hey, do I know you?” Drew asked Belana.
“No.” She shook her head, smiling.
“Then how’d you know my name?” He wondered.
“Easy, we were talking about you before you showed up,” Belana teased.
“You were?” He asked gullibly.
“Actually yes, but we were talking about who might happen upon us. I mentioned that you probably wouldn’t. Guess I was wrong,” Brist chuckled.
“So Brist, if anything had happened here today, you would have told me, wouldn’t you?” Drew asked.
“Of course Drew, you’re my big brother, I tell you everything. I told you about every time with Jesse, didn’t I?” Brist answered.
“Yeah,” Drew nodded, reassurred.
“Just like you tell me everything… like you told me about you, Lillian, and certain events that took place under the bleachers,” Brist prodded, causing Drew to snort in laughter. Then he sighed.
“I don’t know why I had to come here, I would have rather stayed in Minnesota so that I could see Lillian every day. God I miss her!” Drew lamented.
“Drew, you are 21 now, why don’t you just tell dad that you’re old enough to stay in Minnesota without parental supervision.”
“What and miss seeing my beautiful sister everyday?”
“Ha! I’m not beautiful and you know it! God, just look at me!” Brist exclaimed. Drew shrugged and shook his head, as if to say “whatever you say babe.” Randy looked puzzled.
“What do you mean you’re not beautiful? I think you’re gorgeous,” he admitted.
“Gorgeous! Do you have glass eyes!? Just look at me, I have this horrible shade of red hair, and my eyes are purple! Look at them,” Brist ordered, slightly pulling down her right bottom eyelid to give Randy a better look at her eye. This caused her three companions to laugh. “And, I’m short. It’s so infuriating that Drew is a whole 8 inches taller than me. Take it from me, I am not beautiful.”
“If you say so,” Drew chuckled.
“See,” Brist said as if Drew had just confirmed her opinion.
Everyone finished their lunch, except for Drew, and sprawled out on the grass in relaxation. The quartet chatted amicably for a while, until a natural lull occurred in the conversation. Brist took this as a cue to unpack dessert.
“I hope everyone likes my surprise,” she said mysteriously. She deliberately created an air of suspense by removing half a three layered milk chocolate cake – having a generous amount of lush fudge between the layers, whole and pieces of ripe raspberries imbedded in the cake, and an opulent frosting made out of melted dark chocolate chips and crushed raspberries – out of the basket. After it was safely out of the basket, where it had been in its own protected compartment, she set it down with an exaggerated flair.
“Voila!” She announced.
“Mmm,” Belana moaned appreciatively. “If you had told me about this, I would have saved more room!”
“Hey, it’s half gone!” Randy protested.
“Randy! Don’t be so selfish, there’s plenty left to go around!” Belana chided. Together, the group polished off the delicious cake in no time. Not wanting the day to end, but not wanting to swim again so soon after eating, and yet antsy to do something, Brist decided to pack up and bring her new friends to her house.
“Coming Drew?” She asked her older brother.
“Naw, I’m gonna go tanning on the rock a while,” he replied lazily.
“Ok, but be careful, you just ate.”
“I will, don’t worry. Where you off to?”
“Our house.”
“Oh, well, I don’t know how you got here, but you can’t take the golf cart back.”
“Don’t worry, we’re riding horses.”
“Ugh! I don’t know how you can stand those things!”
Brist shook her head and laughed. This comment from a would-be hobby farmer!
“What?” Drew asked suspiciously.
“Some farmer you’ll make.”
“Hey, I like petting animals, not riding them,” Drew defended himself.

*******

“Wow! You live here?” Belana asked.
“Yes.”
“This place is cool!” Randy exclaimed.
“It’s okay.” Brist shrugged modestly.
Okay?” Randy questioned as he jumped off his horse. He immediately offered to help Belana down from Cream.
“Well it’s kinda weird. It looks like an old plantation, which it is, but it has everything uncharacteristic of that time period. It was built by my really-great grandpa. Anyway, I think it would be cool to have lived in it back then.”
“Not me! Life was probably horrible! No video games, no TV... How did they live?” Randy asked emphatically.
“Apparently they managed somehow!” Brist laughed. She snuggled up to Cream’s face a few moments, then told her and Honey to go to the stables to be rubbed down. As she watched them walk to the stables, she noticed Renee watching them come towards her, and motioned for Renee to care for them alone this time. Once she received a nodded confirmation from the stable master, she led her friends inside.
“Hmm, the air must be working again,” Brist remarked as she showed them into the library, which was the first door to the right of the entryway.
“Do you two want anything to drink?” She asked.
“Sure”
“Yeah, I am a little thirsty.”
Brist went to a table that was somewhat centrally located, opened what appeared to be a tiny laptop computer, touched the part of the screen that said ‘kitchen,’ and waited for an answer from the cook.
Moments later, Rachel, the cook, was heard asking what was needed. Brist ordered three glasses of her favorite juice, and after she received confirmation of prompt service, she re-closed the intercom panel and turned her attention back to her friends.
“Brist! What an awesome picture of you!” Belana exclaimed. “I’ve always wanted to dress up in a beautiful old-fashioned dress like that.”
“Amazingly enough, that’s not me. It’s my really-great grandma, and as if that weren’t weird enough, her name was also Brist. Brist Southerland Evans to be exact, and it’s so freaky because my mother’s name is Ellen Evans Southerland.”
“No way that could be anyone other than you,” Randy said, examining the portrait of the long dead woman of Brist’s ancestry.
“Want to know something even weirder?” Brist asked.
Both Randy and Belana nodded. Brist carefully reached behind the huge painting and pulled out an age-yellowed envelope.
“This letter is addressed to my mother and was discovered when she was 16. Her parents had decided to restore the painting, and – for the first time since it was placed here – it was moved. Lo-and-behold, this was wedged into the corner of the frame. On it are instructions for it not to be opened until 10-7-2001. Hey! That’s my birthday! Anyway, it says it’s from my really-great grandma Brist,” Brist informed them, passing the envelope to them to examine. Once she got it back from them, she replaced it behind the painting.
“That is so weird!” Randy exclaimed. Belana agreed, rubbing the sudden set of goosebumps off her arms.
“Well, stories are passed down through the generations about how crazy she was, and how she thought she was from the future. Isn’t that funny?” Brist asked.
“She thought she was from the future?” Belana questioned.
“Mmhmm, I can’t remember from exactly when she claimed to have come from, but they say that she had in her possession the most odd machines. Machines that could capture a person like a photograph, yet it moved when viewed. Not to mention the machine used to view it with. Then, there was a machine that made such horrible noise that no one could bear to be around it except for her, and they say that she called the horrible noise music, and whenever she listened to it she would dance in the most unseemly way. In fact, her love of dance inspired my, ahem, male ancestors to keep a very sharp eye on their daughters to insure that they never exhibited any of my many greats grandmother’s undesirable behaviors.”
Brist made a sound that indicated she was puzzled, and then continued on. “Odd, I recall hearing tons of stories about Brist, and they’re all told in order to discourage inappropriate behavior from the females of the Evans family, but I don’t recall ever hearing of any other females in the family other than my mother. I mean not even anything about the wives of my male ancestors that helped continue on the line, nor anything about any of the female children that died at a young age and are buried in the family cemetery. I find that insulting, don’t you Belana?”
“Yes, my family is abound with stories of courageous women starting with my first ancestor to inhabit the area. They say that she and her husband had a somewhat sad life to begin with, but that she was able to give up her most precious possession to ensure the continuation of our line. Apparently, she made a very good friend with an influential woman of what must have been the Evans family, who helped her and all those people who were depending on her to survive, and founded the town that we live in,” Belana explained.
“Well, my favorite story passed down to me from my Grandmother is about thieves,” Randy informed them, deciding to contribute his own stories to their musings about the past. “As my Grandmother told it, our family once resided in England, in a fair sized – but by no means huge – castle, and for some reason, the castle and all its inhabitants fell on hard times. In hopes of a better life, they packed up and moved to America. However, the trip itself cost everything they had, and the enraged and desperate men took to raiding the owners of the ship that had transported them to America. They watched carefully over the owners and their family, and at every opportunity robbed them of everything valuable they had on them at the time,” Randy told them with an excited gleam in his eye.
“How vexing that must have been for the ship owners and their family!” Brist laughed, taking another drink from the glass of juice that had arrived during their discussion.
“Mmm! This is the most delicious juice I’ve ever had, is it watermelon?” Belana asked.
“Yes.” Brist smiled, a low moan indicating that this was her favorite juice. Randy continued his examination of the library. He thought that there were certainly a lot of books, but not really one interested in reading, he made no comment on it. However, there was a cabinet made entirely out of glass which was filled with an amazing amount of different liquors.
“Nice liquor cabinet Brist. Think we’d get in trouble if we sampled its contents?” He asked.
“Well if you and Belana were of a legal age to drink, then no, we could all, ahem, sample until we couldn’t see straight and started seeing visions of fish swimming in the air, but since you are not, then we cannot,” Brist stated, coming to stand next to Randy in front of the cabinet. Belana following her, her breath catching at the sight of not only a variety of liquor, but a wide range of ages on them too.
“Wow this brandy is labeled ‘1695!’” Belana exclaimed.
“Amazing isn’t it? Do you know how much work goes into the upkeep of such an old alcohol? It needs to be strained every few years, and even then this particular vintage must never be drank in large quantities, or else the drinker may die of alcohol poisoning. See, alcohol continues to ferment, grows stronger over time, and never stops. That is why the finest wines are of an older vintage, but more than that, they must come from a decent batch to begin with, for adding age to bad alcohol just makes it worse,” Brist explained simplistically, not wanting to confuse them with technical terms.
“How do you know so much about alcohol?” Randy wondered out loud.
“Ever since anyone can remember, there has always been a cellar full of ‘homemade’ alcohols, and every member of our family has been taught the basics of it creation. It was especially a passion of my mother’s, and she taught it to me. Therefore, I know a fair amount about alcohol.”
“Was Drew taught too?” Belana asked, curious about Brist’s handsome older brother.
“Yes, but my father would never let him truly pursue the subject, Drew was bred to take over the company, and I was taught to pursue whatever subject that pleased me as long as I also learned those subjects that would make me an asset when it came to hosting business dinners, or parties. I am the perfect hostess; I can make drinks – especially martinis – oversee preparations, and make small talk all while keeping an ear open for any profits to be had. It’s all quite horrible when you think about how it’s almost discrimination. I must be made ready to compliment my future husband perfectly, yet in a way, it’s allowed me such great freedom. I mean I’m not quite yet 18, but I have come to appreciate that while Drew’s the boy and must one day take over the business – or so Dad would like to think – I have been allowed to do as I please because I’m female,” Brist informed them.
Suddenly, she blushed. “I realize that it may sound like I’m bragging, but I really can do anything. I’ve personally made sure that not only am I able to do anything I set my mind to, but also to do it better than anyone else. Okay, I’ll stop singing my praises now!” Brist blushed harder, not sure why she had felt compelled to tell them so much. She took another sip from her glass.
“It’s getting late, Randy and I had best get home,” Belana stated abruptly after she glanced at the clock.
“Bei’s mom will be pissed if we aren’t home by 8:00,” Randy added.
“No problem, let me drive you home,” Brist offered, then for the second time since they’d been there, went to the tiny laptop computer-shaped console on the centrally located table and opened it. Since she was unsure of where her mother was located, she touched the box on the screen that indicated that the entire house would be able to hear. “Mom?” She questioned, waiting a few moments for a reply.
“Yes dear?” Her mom’s voice asked through an almost invisible speaker on the table.
“I’m going to borrow a car for a while, I’ll be back in about a half an hour,” Brist informed her.
“Sure thing honey.” Brist was infinitely surprised that her mother hadn’t argued, or insisted that she have Drew drive her. Hmm... she must feel bad for me...

Go To Chapter 4

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