There are some secrets that are meant to be shared, and some that are not.




The Liu family always ate outside in the summer, bare legs pressed against clipped grass pressed against damp earth, wet from the water nobody ever ran out of. Their mother was lounging against a canvas deck chair, her shiny dark body laid askew like a rag-doll propped upon her owner’s bed, hair tangled like willow branches against the silky down of the pillow that cushioned her head. Tamil was tugging tufts of grass from the soil, wrapping bony fingers around the lush green weed and pulling upwards, effortless, lazy. Tarinn was stretched like a house-cat under the glowing amber eye of the sun, quietly relishing in her dark skin and how it stopped her from burning under heat. They were a family cut from a magazine, docile and polite and shiny, beautiful from the safe distance of observation.


“Dad always loved the summers best,” Tamil said suddenly, his voice croaky-soft from the early influence of puberty and teenhood. Tarinn blinked, jerking upwards, her body reacting of its own accord to the trigger of her father’s name, shooting upwards from the grass like a single bullet to rain down upon her brother. She heard the rustle of canvas and silk from behind and knew her mother had awakened from whatever sultry doze she’d been indulging in, eyes automatically tightening and mouth pressing inwards at the mention of her husband.


“Tamil, you idiot, we’re in public! Shut up and finish your dinner,” Tarinn hissed, glaring angrily down at his half-finished meal. The meat on his plate glistened in the pre-twilight sun, oozing fat and grease and blood onto the clean porcelain. Tamil nodded his sullen resignation, tugging the half-eating plate of food towards him and rubbing the tension from between his shoulder blades. His sister cast a worried glance at the rows of houses opposite, gaping down at the family with darkened eyes and wooden grins. Nobody appeared to have heard him.


“Your father died an honourable death serving the Noble Suits, Tamil, and we’re not to talk of it in such… open conditions. It would be disrespectful.”


Tamil stiffened, his whole body becoming rigid and brittle. Tarinn suddenly, inexplicably felt as if she could break him into tiny little pieces of fury and grief if she reached out and toppled him over. She glanced over her shoulder at her mother and caught the expression she was wearing, how it marred her beautiful happy face and twisted it into something complicated and human. Fear bubbled up in Tarinn’s stomach, hot and sudden and desperate as it licked its way up her chest.


“He didn’t die serving the Nobles, Mum! That’s absolute bull and you know it! He would never, ever enlist in the Guard and would rather die a Miserable than for an army he loathed, and when you tell everyone that’s what happened to him it’s like you’re destroying another little piece of what made him Dad!” Tamil spat, his chest heaving in swift, hot pants as he spun to face his mother, fists balled against the earth as if to ground himself. Tarinn shrank back from her brother, face turned away in panic and fear and shame. Their mother’s face darkened with indignation and pure, unrestrained fury, drawing her entire body upwards, all narrow waistlines and branching limbs crossed together to form something rare and formidable.


“How. Dare. You, Tamil. Your father died serving in the Guard, and that is the LAST I will hear of it. Now go inside before the neighbours hear you!” she fumed, quaking with fury yet standing strong and sturdy nonetheless, facing down the humiliated form of her son for all to see. There was an awful moment in which nobody spoke, in which Tarinn cowered on the grass and Tamil clenched his jaw and their mother trembled on the spot, a moment that Tarinn started to believe would last forever, just them and their anger and their dead father. And then Tamil stood, balled up his fists and disappeared into the house. Tarinn breathed again.


Her mother exhaled shakily and tucked a loose strand of hair behind her ear, folding her arms neatly behind her back in order to disguise the tremble in her fingers. It suddenly struck Tarinn how silent the world was, how glaringly normal everything seemed to be. A dog barked somewhere in the distance and then was silenced. A car rolled down their street, silver metal glittering sharply in the sunlight. A crow coughed out its coarse tune as it soared across the skyline, landing on the branch of a palm tree a few blocks down. Tarinn’s mother smiled.


“What a lovely dinner, sweetheart. Would you help me clear the plates up?” she asked, all sultry smiles and vacant eyes once more. Tarinn glanced down at her hands, frowned at the panicked way they knotted together, then looked up and nodded twice, wrenching a smile onto her face.

“Excellent. Oh, and don’t forget to take your BLISS before you go to bed, darling!” 

Join MovellasFind out what all the buzz is about. Join now to start sharing your creativity and passion
Loading ...