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A Basket of Mixed Fruit

Family ties

By Frances Leah BrownPublished 10 months ago Updated 10 months ago 7 min read
A Basket of Mixed Fruit
Photo by Stéphane Juban on Unsplash

We drove up the snowy, winding road towards the cozy A-frame cabin, peering through the foggy windshield and groaning in relief when we reached the car port. "I think my face has gone numb." Henry said as we jumped out of the parked truck whose heater gave up on the way into the mountains. My older brother Den had gifted us a rebuilt Chevy sidestep when we were starting to drive. Henry and I were grateful but embarrassed to drive it around town, but then it became a badge of honor and we held our heads high in the high school parking lot. We are now the 'can you help me move?' people in our friend's lives. Anyway, when the heater stopped working, Henry and I had to drive with the windows down to keep the fog at a minimum, and Henry was right, my body was stiff from the cold and my face felt tight. "I'll go open up and get the fire going." I said as I crunched across the snow covered gravel driveway to the front door and wiggled the key to open the old heavy wooden door.

It was cold and dark inside, but I used my phone light to walk past the dust covered furniture to the very back of the cabin, opened the giant electrical panel and flipped the main fuse. I heard the refrigerator motor kick on, and I turned on the hall light as I came back into the front room. If that hadn't worked, I'd have tried to start the generator. Beside the very big fireplace was a neat stack of wood and a bucket of kindling. I stacked up the kindling, then put a small split log on top, opened the flue and lit it. Henry came in with our two bags and stomped to the small bedroom in the back of the cabin that was known as 'the twin's room'. I could hear him toss the bags down and then come back down the hall to stand beside me and gripe, "When are you going to tell me it's my fault that the truck broke because I didn't get it to the shop? I've been waiting for nearly two hours." I looked up to see his skinny arms crossed and his face scowling down. "I wasn't going to say anything. We made it, right? Dad can look at it before we leave." He walked away and began to take the sheets off of the couch and chairs, shake them off outside, then he slumped onto the couch and stared at the fire. I sat beside him and asked, "When is this pissy mood going to end? Let me know, okay? I'll go for a walk or take a nap until it's over." He rolled his eyes at me. "Why does it matter if I come here or not? I had other things I wanted to do this weekend..." he began to growl the words, "I was going to go listen to Kaz's band play and then.." I finished his sentence for him, "And then you were going to go get stoned and do stupid shit with Kaz and the band." Henry pushed me away. "Whatever." I couldn't stop myself and started to laugh. "Okay, so if you want to be miserable this weekend, then let's do it right, you know? Really dig in. How can I help?" He got up and stood by the fire. "Ha ha." I went to stand beside him and said, "No, I mean it. How can I help you get the most out of it. I'll get out the old jigsaw puzzles of ponies and flowers that mom loves, or burn some popcorn, one of your favorite aromas." I saw him twitch his mouth just a smidge. "You know what you could do, Charlie? You could sing karaoke for me. That would really make it a living hell." I smiled. "Fine. I'll start with 'Hello' by Adele, I know how much you love that song," He grabbed his hair and pulled, moaning. "Then maybe one of mom's favorites by Celine," Henry said, "Don't you dare sing 'my heart will go on.' I will smother you in your sleep." I kept talking, "Then maybe one of dad's favorites, 'Body Like a Backhoe'." He threw his head back and laughed, "Body Like a Back Road, you dip." I laughed too and wrapped my arms around him. "You are such a brat." He said, hugging me back. Love is like that with us. Twins are weird. He looked down at me and said, "Yeah, yeah. If you make me real hot cocoa, I'll cheer up." We went out to the truck to get the coolers and boxes full of food, and I set about making hot cocoa with half and half, our favorite.

I should tell you about our family; We are a 'basket of mixed fruit' as my grandma used to say. My grandparents adopted our mom and her sister from Korea, then mom and dad had Den, a biological baby, then adopted our sister Jeannie from China and then my twin brother Henry and I were adopted in the U.S. from a young Hispanic mother, with whom Henry and I are friends. (yeah, I'm an English language geek.) Dad's a tall ex-football player and as white as they come. He calls himself 'bluish white' and stays out of the sun unless covered head to toe. Some people really freak out when they see us all together, like we're a cult or something, I don't know. Henry and I used to love watching the expressions on our teacher's face when mom would come to parent-teacher nights. You could see some teachers trying to see if we looked at all Asian. Nope. The cool thing about our family is that we explore all the cultures of our birth. We've had a vacation to Mexico, but never to China or Korea, or Finland. Maybe if we win the lottery. But we still celebrate Asian Spring Festival, and make Joulutorttu with dad. Most of our winter holidays have been spent together at this cabin, which we have because it was passed down to my dad from his parents. The place is old. The power was added by my dad. He says that when he was little, everything was lit by candles and lanterns, and they cooked on a wood stove. I think I would have liked that, but Henry hates the whole 'living off the land' idea.

After hot cocoa, we set up the kitchen and took care of the rooms and the loft, and started making snacks for the hungry hoard that would be arriving soon. Henry and I played music as we worked and laughed a lot. We heard the first car working it's way up the hill and hopped around, putting another log on the fire and turning off the music. I looked out the window and saw them all; my parents and siblings and their families and gave a squeal. "They're here!" I said as I threw on my coat and boots and opened the door, Henry right beside me. My mom was the first to the door, hugging us both, then looking at me. critically. "Charlie! When did you cut your hair? Now you look just like your brother." then to Henry, "Why didn't you talk her out of it? " then to me, "I hope you donated all that hair, at least." Henry and I looked over her head at one another and smiled. He took her arm and said, "Come in mom and stand by the fire. Charlie cut off her hair to make it easier in her cooking classes, and yeah, she donated it. I know I'm skinny, but you can fatten me up over the weekend." Mom scoffed and playfully smacked him on the shoulder then walked to the fire and tried to ask something else, but was drowned out by the noise of everybody coming in, dad at the rear, carrying bags. His face was bright as he said in a booming, joyful voice, "Hello Family!"


About the Creator

Frances Leah Brown

I am a singer, a story teller on stage and in print, and a lover of family and nature.

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