Chapter II: The Riders and the Raid (6)Mature

Will and Arlamus headed up to bed at around ten o' clock to find Andrel curled under the covers, though they both had a feeling he wasn't asleep. It was more confusing than awkward for Will to be around the other twin. He and Arlamus had very little in common, and though they were holidaying together, it was rare for Andrel not to be with them.

'Arlamus?' Will asked as he slipped into bed opposite the twin beds. 

'Yes?' the twin replied, sitting on the edge of his bed. He cleaned his glasses with his pyjama shirt before setting them neatly on the bedside table.

'What did Andrel mean earlier, when he talked about you repaying him? I know it's something to do with your dad, but...I didn't want to bring it up around your mom.'

Arlamus nodded. 'Thank you for that. Our mother has been through enough, Andrel and I always hate to bring it up, but with him trying to contact us so much, it's difficult. You see, for all the years our father lived with us, he...' Arlamus' fists clenched, clutching at the covers, '...he was a horrible person. I always remember him as being strict since I was young, he liked his respect and didn't like to be disagreed with. He liked to drink, and he sometimes got violent. After a few years...he didn't need to the drink to kick off...'

'He always seemed to leave me alone, though. It was Mother, they fought nearly every day. If she wasn't sleeping around, she was stealing, or trying to poison him for his money. He used to hit her, broke one of her ribs once, and he had to take her to the hospital once for pushing her down the stairs. That time, he thought she was doing it with the milkman.'

'And your mother put up with this?' Will asked incredulously, though every response he made seemed out of line. How could he possibly judge them knowing what the family had been through now?

'She was scared, I think,' Arlamus leant against the headboard, his knees pulled to his chest. 'So was I. She was afraid that if she left him, he might find us and hurt us even more.  He said that if she ever defended herself with magick, he'd tell everybody in Bootabin what we were, unless she did as he said. Andrel and I had no idea...though we knew that he beat her. After a while, he did it in front of us, before he would always yell at us to go to our rooms and leave them downstairs. Then...Andrel started to get in the way.

'He used to yell at Father to get away from her, so when she wasn't looking, he'd hit Andrel too. I saw my brother one day, too bruised to move, but he wouldn't let Mother get hurt. Once, he slept outside Mother's bedroom door when Father was out late drinking, to make sure he didn't go in.

'Eventually, Mother got pregnant with Seph. To this day, I -,' Arlamus' lip trembled, 'I don't even know if she wanted her...or if she had a choice. Andrel was so angry at them both, but Father said it would be a clean slate. He saw her through the pregnancy, that was the longest he went without hurting her. He wouldn't take her to the hospital though...Mother went alone on a sled, and when she came back, after Seph had been attacked...our Father recoiled at the sight of her. That night, he left, and he didn't come back.'

'So, what about now?'

'He's tried to meet up with us a couple of times. He's written to say he's a different person, new house, new girlfriend with a baby on the way -,'

Suddenly, Andrel spoke, proving that he had never been asleep. 'You honestly believe that crap?' he asked vehemently. 'Sick bastards like him will always be sick bastards. It's inside them and they'll never get rid of it. I hope that's not his life, I hope another poor women isn't suffering like we did. I want to know he's lying in a gutter half-frozen to death.'

'Brother...' Arlamus murmured, looking distraught.

'I don't know why you still call him "Father" or "Dad". He was never that to us, you'd be better off calling him "cretin" or "dick". Get that through your thick skull, why don't you.' Andrel curled up tighter under his covers, saying no more for the rest of the night. Will and Arlamus also slept, all the while wishing that they could take away Andrel's anger, and maybe save him anymore pain.

The End

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