You Continue to be the Life of Me


Our brothers and sisters are there with us from the dawn of our personal stories to the inevitable dusk.-Susan Scarf Merrell

Enjoying the mid-morning bustle of the coffee shop, Tia and Ray take in the sweet smell of pastry in the air begrudgingly. Tia, with her head bowed stares into her coffee cup, hoping for some sort of salvation. She’s ashamed, and dreads the conversation she feels coming on between her brother and herself, the one where she’ll tell him yet again of another sad story of “love lost.” For his part, Ray simply waits, holding his coffee cup close to his lips. He blows on the steamy brew gently to cool it, but manages to burn his lip upon his first sip anyway.

After the usual expletive, Ray knowingly says, “Sis, again? Really, you have to stop running away from your shame.”

Giving him a wounded smile, Tia replies, “You know I can’t. Even after all these years and instances, wounds are fresh, painful to the touch. You know it’s how we were raised. We were always afraid of being inadequate. Not worthy.”

While she speaks, Ray takes Tia’s hand into his, and begins caressing it gently with his fingertips.

“Fuck this bullshit. Let’s finish this damn coffee and go get fresh ink!”, Tia blurts out defiantly.

“No Sis,” Ray replies, “We need to talk, to get this all out in the open. Out of your system.”

“Out of my system,” Tia almost cries, “What do you want me to say? That daddy always belittled me, so that’s why I chase unavailable men? Big fucking deal. I’m a wreck. It happens.”

“Come on now Tia,” Ray implores, “It was the same dad who told me that I was a sissy, just because I had trouble holding back my feelings. He told me I had to be tough. ‘Walk it off,’ he would say. And what did that do for me, except cause me to spend years questioning my sexuality.”

“But I’m not like you, Ray. I am tough,” Tia replies “I don’t need to love like you do, stability, a home. All I need is to fuck, drink, smoke, and swear. I don’t need anyone or anything to get in the way of that. I just… I just want to run till I die.”

Shaking his head, Ray bluntly states, “You’re so full of shit Sis. You do want love. You want someone to take your body, mind and soul. You want that person to tell you it’s okay to be fucked up. It is OK, you know.” Then softening, Ray says, “You want to be loved, I can see it in your eyes. They speak far louder than your actions.”

Tia’s angry eyes soften at her brother’s words. “Brother, you’re a good one. And you’re right, I do want to be loved-I deserve to be loved. But who will have me? I’ve wrecked my life. I’ve got nothing to offer but my sex. Who will love me for that alone?”

Exasperated, Ray blurts out, “Sis, listen to you. Don’t be so goddamned pitiful! See that you have much more to offer than ‘just your sex,’ and you’ll start to be able to love yourself. Love yourself first. Then others will follow suit.”

“Gawd Ray, that is such bullshit! I’ve loved myself so much already, that my clit is broken.”

Looking at her, Ray begins to laugh so hard that he chokes, chortling, “Woman, you are a nut!”

“Yes dear, I know,” responds Tia, “But I sure am fun! You know, you’re right – I do want love. I want to put my heart out there. I want to wake up in the morning next to a man I know could tear my heart out, but won’t. The kind that will let me fall apart and hold me, that will let me scream, throw dishes and act like a child. And then when I’m done going crazy, soothe me with kind words and gentle hands. But I also want a man who’ll kick my ass when I need it, too. I want to be loved fully!”

“Then you’ve got to wait for Mr. Right, instead of Mr. Right Now, right?” questioned Ray.

“Right. I tell ya what Broseph, if I promise to swear off booze and sketchy men, will you promise to swear off the self-loathing you’re so good at?” responds Tia hopefully.

“It’s a deal Sis,” Smiles Ray, “And about that fresh ink?”

Giving Ray a lopsided grin, Tia responds with, “Oh honey, that’s going to happen. I’ve already texted my artist and made an appointment. Drink up, we have to be there in a half hour!”

“You’re going to be the death of me, you know that, right?” laughs Ray.

“Ah yes,” Tia now beams, “But you continue to be the life of me, I mean, until Mr. Right comes along. Now let’s blow this pop stand, and get tattooed!”