“I’m going stir crazy. I might come to the beach too,” Aunt Monica said over Facetime. “I just don’t wanna catch germs and die.”
“Why does it even matter?” Jasper stated in the background. “If the virus won’t kill ya, the smoking will.”
“Yeah. That machine is useless,” Penelope added. “You do a breathing treatment then go smoke. That’s stupid. Right, Momma?”
I choked on my water as I tried to not laugh. Aunt Monica’s face was as red as the flowers on her T-shirt. Sometimes kids are the only ones willing to say what is really on their minds, and our family needed a little dose of honesty. We almost never said something straight out. My mother was the worst. All she would do was pretend to be clueless and skip the confrontation.
“Jasper James! Penelope Grace!” my mother fussed. ” Watch your mouth! Apologize to your aunt right now.”
“Sorry, Aunt Monica,” they huffed.
My aunt just glared at my mom as she took a long drag. My mom nervously adjusted in her seat. The guiltiness was clear in her voice.
“They meant nothing by it,” she said. “They have been experiencing mild aggression ever since this quarantine started.”
Aunt Monica chuckled and finished her cigarette.
“I am not surprised at all. Congrats, Sis,” she responded. “You have done a wonderful job on raising such respectable children…”
I could see my mom digging her fingernails into her pale palms under the table. Aunt Monica’s tone became more ruthless by the minute.
“I mean, look at what you have done to the first one,” she gestured over my direction. “She shouldn’t be dressing like a damn skater boy.”
“What she has done is the most amazing thing ever. She has let me find myself and loved me every step,” I said as I walked over. “Your head is so up in your fat butt to even realized how loving a mother and sister she actually is!”
Aunt Monica scowled and hung up. Mom turned to all three of us with her eyebrows knitted.
“No screen time for any of you for two weeks.”
“But Mama,” we objected.
“Enough!” she replied as she slammed her MacBook closed.
Mom was talking to Mimi through speaker phone when I went to brush my teeth. I stopped and listened.
“I know, Mother,” Mom said. “It was never my intention. I can’t control how my children think.”
“Hopefully, they learned their lesson,” Mimi sighed. “Some things are better left unsaid.”
My mother rolled her eyes and picked up her iPhone. Her tone turned serious.
“I’m actually glad that my kids are becoming good honest individuals,” she replied. “Maybe we should be the ones learning from it. We barely speak our minds.”
“We don’t because we shouldn’t,” Mimi argued. “Honesty hurts.”
My mother threw her skinny hands up in the air in frustration. I hid behind the door when she looked in my direction.
“Do you know what hurts more though?” Mom responded. “It’s the fact that you can’t accept the truth or be open with your own family.”
Like Aunt Monica, Mimi just hung up.
A few weeks passed by, and Mom heard nothing from Aunt Monica or Grandma. She became more depressed each day. I knew I had to do something. So, I sneaked on her MacBook and messaged both of them.
“Please meet at the park today at 2. There is something I need to say in person.”
After I sent, I deleted it from her texts. I knew that both of them were expecting an apology. I just had to set the bait.
“Hey Mama, can we go to the park?” I yelled from the kitchen. “Please.”
“Sure. Go get your sister and brother,” she answered.
“Hey. Mimi and Aunt Monica are here.” Penelope pointed over at the picnic table.
My grandma was sitting crossed legged talking to Aunt Monica who was standing with a lit cigarette in her right hand.
“Oh wow. What a coincidence,” I said.
They put on fake smiles on as we approached closer. Mom immediately grabbed my shoulder.
“Seriously? What did you do, Kai?” she hissed. “You shouldn’t have gotten involved.”
“Just trust me,” I answered.
“Hope you have a good reason to drag us out here in the damn heat,” Aunt Monica commented as she took a drag.
“I am the one who sent the message,” I responded.
“No wonder,” my grandma said.
“Do y’all realize that we haven’t been one of the families that has a member died of this stupid virus?” I stated. “We all are healthy. Why are y’all wasting time fighting rather than fighting for more time together?”
Frowns slowly appeared on their faces. I kept going before they could respond.
“I know that we all have said some hurtful things,” I said. “Although this quarantine has brought out the worst of us, we have the chance to strengthen our ties.”
Mom, Grandma, and Aunt Monica shared glances.
“The kid has an excellent point,” Aunt Monica commented.
“So, what do y’all say?”
They all smiled and nodded. Mom grabbed me and kissed my forehead.
“Thank you for being you.”