I was approximately four years old when my parents became involved with another woman, Sarina. My clearest memories of her involve cigarettes, dark hair, and a lean, shrewish voice. As the story goes, she met my mad father at a bar and found him interesting enough to follow home, pretending that her car had coincidentally broken down in front of our house. Apparently, somehow, this worked. She moved in soon after, bringing with her two little children – Daniel, age three, and Brianna, age two – from her marriage to another man. It was unexpected. Suddenly, not only did I have another mother, I had young siblings, the first children I had ever encountered.
All three of us were incredibly blonde. We were thin kids, the sort with exceedingly clever hands that like to climb bookshelves and get in behind furniture. (Once, in a fit of crackling genius, we gave Brianna a safety-scissors haircut coloured with our favourite smelly markers.). In the few photographs that survive, we look unquestionably related. It wasn’t official, however, until our parent’s decision to have children together – Robin in January then Blake in September.
My mother left soon after, young, worn, and tired, taking Robin and I with her. We moved out, (really it was more of a midnight raid as we ran away, with Daniel helping me out of the bedroom window), and settled into a nice apartment on the Drive above Nick’s spaghetti house. Silva lived across the hall, I began going to school. Life continued. Very rarely did I see that branch of family after we left. Not only did they move every year, Sarina became increasingly difficult, systemically explaining to we-the-children that everything we lived had been delirious make-believe, even to the point of raising Blake with a fictional name. Eventually, they became impossible to find. Vancouver Island swallowed them whole.
All of this was so long ago that I never expected any of them to remember – Blake certainly couldn’t, he was a tiny baby, maybe three years old the last time I saw him, and Daniel and Brianna had likely been quite thoroughly brain-washed by their unappealing mother – but I continued to hope I would find them again. Vancouver Island is vast, but population small, and Blake’s birth certificate, after all, had my father’s name on it. One day, eventually, he would need it, if only to apply for a driver’s license.
It turned out, however, that Blake found out he had a different father when he was seven years old. He and our sister Brianna were having an argument, and she burst out, in perfect cliché, “He’s not even your REAL daddy!” Way to go, girl. (Last time I saw her, she was extolling, very seriously, the various merits of My Little Ponies). From there, the facts began to trickle in. His false name was discarded when his CareCard came, (“My middle name isn’t James?”), and when that foretold moment with the Birth Certificate happened when he was sixteen, his mother threw a fit, refusing to tell him anything or sign anything until he legally changed his name from Holmes. Apparently it was a bit of a drag down war, complete with shouting matches and threats of cutting him from the will. Being a smart kid, however, he simply waited out three years and applied again when he was nineteen. At that, his mother, not relenting, but simply giving up, finally told him of my existence. That was six months ago.
Next time he was in town, he looked me up on-line in the phonebook. And that, my friends, brings us to yesterday. Tah-fiddle-dah. My long lost brother returned, remarkably undamaged and notably sane. I’m proud of him for struggling through our dubious genetic heritage, our intensely unstable parentage, and his obviously isolated upbringing. He could have gone away and come back a deeply unpleasant individual, but he didn’t. Apparently none of them did. I’m told our brother Daniel is currently scuba-diving in Thailand and our sister Brianna is living in Sweden with family. I never would have guessed.