(***This post was originally posted on Open Salon on March 4, 2011 as part of a Fiction Friday writing prompt. Please see this post about my decision to migrate to WordPress…if you’re interested.***)
I watched my hand tremble, passing the bone china saucer, the teacup clattering on top. She took it from me, gaze imperious, hands steady, and silence reigned again. I sat, welcoming the cushions behind me, supporting me. The drama of the night before had shaken my confidence, and although when we had first met we got along well, now I wasn’t so sure.
“The…episode last night was…accidental, I’m sure. However,” she paused to sip her tea, “we must ensure it never happens again. As you know, Bradley, though normally quite gregarious, needs time to himself to preserve his equilibrium. You must make certain, in the future, that he gets that time, if you hope to continue a relationship with him. Surely that is clear after last night.”
Struggling to maintain my own composure, I envied her solid bearing, her unflinching gaze, her unyielding demeanor. She cared for her brother, I had known that all along, but I hadn’t realized she would go to such extremes to preserve his reputation, however false, as a dynamic gubernatorial candidate.
The “episode” last night had been more than Bradley simply needing solitude. His despondent moods had been coming more and more frequently, destroying more than the plate glass window he had thrust his fist through last night. The evidence of his past episodes had been easier to cover up, though, than the blood stain on the Persian rug and the trip to the emergency room last night. Although the blood stain was unfortunate, it was the trip to the emergency room that had upset his sister and caused this visit. Blood stains could be, if not cleaned, at least covered up.
She placed the saucer on the table and stood, smoothing the front of her skirt. “I will take care of the reporters. If you are approached, your answer should be ‘no comment.’ Is that clear?”
“And that medication the doctor prescribed?” She cast a stern glance in my direction. “Do not allow him to take it. Is that understood?”
I hated myself for bowing so easily to her will, but I knew there was no other answer. “Yes, ma’am.”