Getting to Know

It was a time of getting to know. I got the chicken pox when we lived on Redwood and I understood, for the first time, about being really sick. I had measles when we lived in Bowness, but the chicken pox kept me quarantined from friends and even from my evil sister for about nine hundred years. It was a sweaty, itchy and very boring experience.

I threw a piece of wood off the porch window and hit our young neighbour girl in the head with it and I realized, for the first time, that I had hurt someone, and it was my fault. There was a boy across the street, who was a big grade two-er that said he had a switch-blade knife and he would get me on the way to school if I didn’t give him money. I was called ‘Wagon Burner’ in the school yard, though I had no idea what that meant or that adults indiscriminately passed their prejudice down to their children.

Lillian remained living with us. She was like an older sister, but not evil. We were similar in several ways, especially that we could both run fast and enjoyed teasing Ivy. She was a sibling by all intents and the reason she lived with us never occurred. Here they are getting to share a bed. Lil is skilled at pretending to be asleep, but Ivy is unable to conceal deception. Everybody knows that the photo is staged, but it is just too much for one of them.

The night stands were made by our father, from an old double pedestal vanity that he disassembled and hand sanded and varnished. The fact that the night stand on the right has a portrait of me, an alarm clock and an ashtray, tells me that this is not their bed.

I didn’t quite understand that Lil was my grandfather’s child. I certainly didn’t understand that Lil’s mother and my mother’s mother had been sisters. I didn’t understand why Lil lived with us, though it was the most natural thing that she did. I didn’t understand that my grandfather also had another family, though we did get to meet some of them when hanging out at The Fort Café. Here is Chieh with Ivy behind the Fort. He, like Lil, was a ‘half’. He being a half-uncle, Lil being a half-aunt.

Lil’s mother is standing in the doorway; you can see half of her.  , Su-lin, is likely inside and Chieh’s three other siblings are not yet born. You can see that Chieh is a serious young man, while Evil Ivy, in her high-water pants and double-breasted jacket appears to be frivolously enjoying a peanut-butter sandwich.

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