PREFACE

Diego Rossi was a very sad man.

~~~

The short tale of a man and his lite sister.


[FULL STORY ON WATTPAD]

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2. inhale

I opened my eyes cautiously.

First one, peeking cautiously at my bedside clock. Its flashing red numbers read 4:49, which was actually better than I had hoped. The the other,  and I checked the window. Still dark.

I stood up and stretched, did the yawn, the whole bit,  trying to fool myself into believing I had actually slept. My little sister stood by my bedroom doorway staring at me,  like always.

"What?" I snapped.

She melted silently out of sight, and I shook my head. Rubbing my forehead, I wondered why I was standing,  instead of trying to cajole,  threaten and persuade myself to sleep,  as I usually did at this time of morning.

I ran a finger through my hair, then shrugged and headed into the bathroom. Taking the toothbrush from the cup, I squeezed the last of the toothpaste onto it, and started brushing my teeth,  contemplating whether to try to do something about my haggard appearance.

I wasn't even thirty yet, but somehow looked a decade older. The bags under my eyes had been there so long, that they'd just became part of my appearance, and the unnatural sharpness of my cheekbones only added to the haunted look I had been sporting for the last couple of years.

Well, there was no one to worry about how I looked apart from me. I rubbed my eyes. Ah, shit, I was tired.

Perpetually tired should have been my middle name.

I opened my eyes again to see my sister standing behind my reflection. I would have flinched if this was a decade ago, and I wasn't used to her unusual habits.

"What do you want, you creepy brat?" I said around a mouthful of foam. I wasn't expecting an answer, and didn't get one either.

I spat into the basin. Holding out a hand, a said, "Pass the mouthwash."

She pointed at it on the rack behind me, and I muttered, "Thanks," before grabbing it myself. When I was done with the mouthwash, I rinsed out the cap, and filled it with water and popped two Olanzapine that lived behind the cabinet.

Apart from lifting her finger to point, she hadn't moved an inch.

I turned the tap on as far is it would go, and splashed my face with freezing cold water. When I looked up again, she was gone.

Creepy brat.

I sometimes regretted the moment I had let her into my house. Only sometimes though.

I dried my face on my shirt before pulling it off and throwing it onto the gradually growing laundry heap in the middle of the hallway and padded into the living room.

"Hey, Asa," I said as I sat down on the floor before the coffee table and opened my laptop.

"Give me my messages."

"Al-right, you have -five- new messages," came her robotic voice immediately.

"This message is from -Dr Pasha- exactly -one- -week- ago. Hello Diego, this is Dr Pasha. I'm calling you about the two sessions you missed recently-"

"Next," I said, tapping in my password.

"This is from -Whatshername- exactly -six- -days- ago. Dee-Dee! Where ha-"

"Next."

"This is from -Editor- exactly -one- -day- ago. Rossi, I swear to god, if you don't call me back about your first draft in the next 24 hours, you won't survive to see the end of the week, fu-"

"Next," I muttered, opening up the word document, and putting on my glasses that I always kept next to my laptop. I started typing.

"This is from -bitch- exactly -four- -days- ago. Look, Diego, Your father and I, we're all worr-"

"Next. Wait, block her, Asa."

"Alright then. -bitch- has been blocked. Would you like me to continue?"

I sighed a little bit. "No, I'm alright, thanks." She was silent, and I got to work.

I had about 7,000 words left of the manuscript to type before my editor came knocking at the door with a deranged look on his face. When exactly this would be, I didn't know - it could have been in the next hour, or the next day, but I typed like she was on his way at that very moment.

It wasn't terribly difficult. I liked writing, I think. I don't know. I liked that my job kept me indoors all day, and I liked that very few people were allowed to know where I lived, lest raving lunatics with cameras and microphones and tape recorders began camping outside my door.

Apart from my editor, my little sister was the only one who even knew what the inside of my house looked like.

So I think, I liked my job possibly. It was almost easy to knock out the final chapters.

I was done in two hours. I didn't read it over. I didn't want to, and I didn't plan to. That was my editor's job, whenever she decided to arrive.

I closed the laptop and stood up.

It was almost daylight. I could see the sun trying to peek over the buildings in the distance from my living room window. My little sister sat at the window,  watching intently. She always liked the dawn, and would be there to watch.

Even when we we much younger she had a fascination with it, and my father would always yell, telling her that she'd damage her eyes, even though I couldn't really see how that was possible.

Scratching my head, I walked into the kitchen, trying to remember if I had anything in the fridge. The answer to that was nothing. Unless you counted a half empty water bottle and a baby bell, which I don't.

"Hey, Asa," I called out. "Call.. Um- editor."

"Calling, -editor-."

The phone barely rang once before she picked up. All I could hear was the sound of traffic and heavy breathing.

I spoke first. "He-"

"Shut up," she cut me off quickly. "I'm trying to control myself as I have children in the car to drop off on my way to yours, but hearing your voice is bringing me this close to losing it."

I stayed silent and waited for her to erupt. It didn't take long.

"Do you know how much grayer I've gotten over these last few days? My children have started calling me Grandma! When was that deadline? Do you even know? Two weeks ago. Two weeks!" Her voice rose to a shriek at the last sentence.

I  glued my mouth shut.

"I call and call and you never answer, then you have the goddamn cheek to call me before I can turn up at your for and slap the-  Oh hush, baby, I'm sorry, mummy's just feeling a bit tender at the moment..."

A couple of moments of quiet talking with her hand over the microphone, before she said, "Okay, Diego," sounding considerably calmer. "I'll leave this for when we're face to face. For now, before I hang up on you, tell me why you called.

I glanced back at the empty fridge in slight trepidation. Not enough, apparently to ask, "Erm... I was wondering whether you could pick up some groceries, or..."

A few more moments of heavy breathing. She took a deep breath, "What!" She screeched. "Do you think I'm your goddamn assistant? Am I your servant? The Andrea to your Miranda? I swear to Je-" A few seconds of muffled speech, and she came back to the phone.

"This is not over, Diego Rossi. We'll be having face to face chats in an hour," she hissed, then hung up.

That hour came faster than expected, and within 30 minutes, someone was knocking on the door loudly and repeatedly. I slowly pulled myself up from my position staring at the ceiling, and plodded over to the front door. The knocking didn't ceased, and I muttered, "I'm coming, I'm coming."

I opened the door to a dragon-lady looking face. She held out her hand threateningly in a way that made me think she was going to slap me.

"Manuscript. Now."

I left the door open and loped into the living room. I heard the door shut, and the sound of her heels on the hardwood floor followed me. She guarded the doorway like a watch hound, her arms crossed and one foot tapping impatiently on the floor.

I scratched my head and did my best at a bashful expression.

"Ah... I do believe I forgot to print the last of it off," I muttered  bent over the laptop and sent the final pages to the printer in my bedroom.

She narrowed her eyes at me. "I was expecting to have to stand over you and watch you type. There had better be at least 8000 thousand words in there, Rossi, or you and I will be having... words."

I nodded. "Of course. I don't know why anyone would doubt my work ethic like you do..."

She scoffed angrily, and stalked off to my room. As soon as she was gone, my little sister peeked her head around the side of the sofa, and looked at me steadily.

"You aren't still scared strangers, are you?"

No response, only the same intent stare.

"You're almost nine now. You'll want to start growing up soon."

No response. I shook my head and went into the kitchen where I poured myself a drink at the counter. I took a gulp of cheap wine, and turned around only to meet her silently judging eyes again.

 

My eye twitched.

 

"What the hell do you want?" I shouted. Some wine slipped over the ege of the glass, drenching my fingers. "Tell me what you want! Speak to me, or leave me alone." I took a huge shuddering breath.

My editor shouted from the top of the stairs,"Who're you talking to, Rossi?" 

I flinched, then loosened my grip on the glass. "No one! My little sister."

"Oh!" She said, sounding curious. That was good. She was likely in a good mood after recieving the manuscript.

"You never told me you had a sister!"

"I haven't?"

"No!" Came her voice, getting closer.

She poked her head around. "Where is she? Can I meet her? How old is she?"

I poured another glass for her and shrugged. "She's gone. I wouldn't go looking for her; she's rather shy around people she doesn't know.

"Oh..." She looked disappointed, but only for a second. "Well, it's all good! Tell her that Aunty would like to meet her some time, kay!" She flew around the room as she said it, randomly adjusting the position of random furnitures, completing a full circle back to me. She patted my head, a  considerable feat for someone that barely broke 5ft 2.

"Good job on the draft! Two weeks late is better than two weeks and one day, amirite?" She picked up her bag where she had left it, and blew a kiss. "Also, I want a title before next week, or you're dead." She drew her thumb across her throat, sharp and threatening - a promise. She left with a huge grin on her face. 

I stood there, a little bit nonplussed.

A title... huh, I thought. I had forgotten that I had yet to name it. 

We-e-e-ell, that can wait. I picked up the tv remote and sat down on the sofa. 

"Hey! Get down here! I recorded that sh-" She immediately appeared next to me on the sofa with a business-like expression as if she'd been there the whole time.

I almost patted her head, but I stopped, afraid to touch her, a little bit sad, a little bit sorry, a little bit afraid she would disappear if I did. I think she knew I was trying to say, "Sorry for yelling at you," when I muttered "Creepy brat."

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