Feathers From the Sky(8)

By: Posy Roberts

Nearly there, Philip texted. I took a deep breath and tried to switch gears. No point in whining over something I had no control over.

Great! I sent back. Then I went to my mirror and fucked with my hair. I really liked the color, even better than I’d liked the purple, though purple still tipped the ends, which gave it a cool effect. The doorbell rang. He must’ve been extremely close when he’d texted. I’d assumed he was near the interstate.

“Come on in, Philip,” I heard my mom say. “What a wonderful surprise. Oh, and you brought your suitcase.”

I walked into the living room just as he slipped his bag behind himself and gave my mom a nervous smile. “Merry Christmas,” he said as he handed her a basket he’d hefted in his other hand. “I brought this for the whole family to share.”

“Thank you,” Mom said as I finally unstuck my feet and moved toward him, giving him a hug.

“They weren’t expecting me?” he whispered in my ear.

I couldn’t keep hugging him long enough to answer him back, so I pleaded with him to be patient with my eyes. “How were the roads?” I asked instead.

“They were mostly clear. I made good time.”

Mom was peeking into the basket, and I could tell she wanted to see what was inside. “Do you want to open that in the kitchen, Mom?” I hoped she’d go alone, but she insisted Philip be there for when it was unwrapped.

“Everybody. Philip’s here, and he’s brought us all a present so come back to the kitchen,” she hollered. “Excuse the mess in here, Philip. We just finished up lunch about ten minutes ago.”

“No worries. It still smells wonderful.”

“Are you hungry? I can make you a plate.”

“No. No, thank you. I ate before I started driving, and I’m still feeling well fed.”

“That’s right!” Jen said with excitement. She, Chris, and Jackson were the siblings who knew Philip the least. “I forgot you had a little bit of a British accent.”

He did, but I was so used to it now that I just heard Philip. While he was quite young, his parents had first hired British nannies to help them. It was at the time in Philip’s life when he was learning how to speak and pronounce things, so many of his words still sounded very British; even some of his word choices did at times. He could turn it off if he tried, but when he was exhausted or had been out of the country recently, the accent became stronger. He often purposefully spoke with it while traveling because he was less likely to get the “Stupid American” looks and attitude from people in various countries. It was strange to me that he’d do that, but then again, I didn’t have another accent I could pull out of my back pocket at will. I just spoke like a typical Minnesotan, chewing my Rs, squashing my vowels, and truncating entire sentences down to a few words.

As the rest of my siblings and my dad trickled into the room, they all greeted Philip, and he called them all by name, including my nieces and nephew and the in-laws too. He asked about little incidental things in their lives that he remembered, and then he told us all about his trip to Tokyo and the wonderful hotel he’d stayed in. “Now open the gift,” he said with a smile to my mom.

Oohs and ahs were voiced as my mom revealed a beautiful tea set and a variety of teas to sample. Mom and Dad both loved tea more than the rest of us, so it was really a gift for them, but that didn’t stop my brothers and sisters from passing tins of tea around and arguing about which flavor they should try first.

“Will you be staying with us?” Dad asked.

“Only if it’s not too much trouble. I could get a room too.”

“It’s no trouble at all,” Dad said.

“I’ll just get the blow-up mattress from the basement, and we can set you up right in the living room,” Mom said, which just made me want to groan.

“No, Mom. He can sleep with me. I’ve got enough room.”

“But it’s only a full-sized mattress, sweetie.”

“It’ll be fine. We’re both skinny guys. We’ll manage. Besides, that blow-up bed is horrible to sleep on, and I have more than enough room.”

“Okay,” Mom said with a funny lilt to her voice.

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