“Mira, what is that?” I have to assume it is soup, not something we eat often in the summer and in this heat but I guess it’s not so bad, I’m just not sure what is supposed to be in it. The clear, cream colour of it could have led me to a few different ideas but none of them seem proper when I taste it.
My brother turns away from the kitchen, in the process of finishing up the preparation of grilled cheese. Today has been a long day, Zora, for once, left us a note when she left this morning saying she would only be back the following day so we had to behave and prepare ourselves something healthy for supper, and neither one of us felt like working on something complicated, so soup and grilled cheese. Where has she been lately to want to tell us to behave and eat something healthy for our meal? It’s not because she’s not around that we’ll go out to eat fast-food. I don’t even like the taste of the stuff and I know Mira doesn’t care for any of it either, so we’re good and safe on that ground.
Usually though, with grilled cheese—these do have bits of apple and brie in them so I guess they’re not the ordinary kind—we tend to stick with tomato soup or creamed corn or something simple and while I suppose this is simple, I still have no idea as to what it might be so yes, I’m confused and he looks a little confused as he puts the sliced, grilled sandwich on my plate.
“That’s soup, d’uh.”
I have to roll my eyes at him though I only chuckle and I point at my bowl again. “I’m aware this is soup, Mira, I’m asking about what’s in it.”
“Ah, turnips were on sale this week and I didn’t know how else to prepare them. I could have grilled them but that would have required using the stove and that’s too much work and too much heat right now.”
He has a point on the stove and I guess we did need to use these turnips before they turned bad. I don’t recall ever eating them before though I’m sure they’ve been in our plates while Zora has prepared meals for us, though maybe not, maybe with Eoghan and Lex and the others. That might make more sense.
“It doesn’t taste bad, does it?” Now he’s slicing through his grilled sandwich and setting it to the plate sitting next to mine. I shake my head and the worry eases away from his face.
“It’s good, really. I just didn’t know what it was and no amount of digging around in my brain would come up with any clear cut idea of what it was supposed to be. You’ve outdone yourself tonight Mira, thank you.” He blushes, it’s a subtle sort of thing but it’s there and I can’t help the smile that settles to my lips. He deserves so much in this life, at times I feel like we’ve both been a little cheated by the world in general and it just hurts, really.
Finally, he’s rounding the counter and coming to settle next to me. He multitasks better than me. I don’t know that I would have been able to keep an eye on the soup while preparing the sandwiches and grilling them and all. Everything is warm at once and that’s just perfect. I don’t mind if we eat cold but if the meals can be eaten as hot or warm as they should be then it’s all the better.
“Thank you for the meal.” I’ve read, somewhere in a book, that in the Japanese cultures, they say thanks for the food before the meal and after. I think it makes sense. You’re thankful to have food to eat and once you’ve eaten it, you’re thankful that you’ve had food to eat, it really makes sense.
He smiles, an almost shy smile though it warms after a moment as he takes a sip of the soup. He nods to himself, as if he’s now certain that he’s made the right choice and that the soup is just fine. “I thought about making us a cream of mushroom but the turnips really called so me so I worked with them instead, you’re sure it’s all right?”
“Mira, it’s perfect, don’t worry.” He ducks his head, sheepish and I gently bump my shoulder to his before going back to my food. It’s a simple sort of meal and I can’t complain, I love eating simpler meals, especially in the summer. More complex meals in the winter are more fun because you have a little of everything, it’s piping hot and you get to just warm up gradually with everything you eat.
I offer my help for the dishes and he allows me. Usually whoever prepares the meal does the dishes, or in Zora’s case, she packs everything up in the dishwasher. I know Mira doesn’t see the point of it and I don’t either. It’s not like we use a lot of dishes and it only takes a few moments to wash everything up and put it all away.
“Agni, can I bother you for a minute?” I look up from my game, he’s just standing in the doorway, I smile and motion him inside. I lower the screen of my laptop, ease away from it to turn to face him. His cheeks are that adorably red colour I’ve come to really appreciate on him. I know red is more my colour but it looks fine on his cheeks. I know what I’m feeling, I know in most ways it’s absolutely wrong but I know it’s benign. It’s just a gentle sort of brother affection I feel for him, it’ll never really go to places it shouldn’t.
“Sure, what can I help you with?” He shifts his weight and I know there’s something on his mind but he doesn’t want to bother me about it. At times I could shake him—very gently mind you—to try to get him to understand that he’s not bothering me, despite what I might say at times. “Out with it, Mira.”
He blushes a little but shrugs and I see him wince, it’s just a barely there sort of wince but I wish I had noticed it before. I open up my arms and he steps closer and into them with a sigh. “How long has it been hurting?”
The only answer I get from him is a shake of his head and I sigh. “Let’s get a shower, we can both put on a suit in case Zora might come home without warning, don’t want her thinking we’re doing evil and dirty things together the way brothers just shouldn’t huh?”
He does chuckle this time, we’ve had this conversation before. We feel affection for one another but we know it’s because of how we grew up and how close we have been all of our lives. We’re not about to start groping or molesting one another though we have no issues with being bared in one another’s presence. “A hot shower and I’ll rub your shoulders until the ache goes, okay?”
There, now I get a nod out of him and he walks back towards his room. I really wish I’d noticed the tension in his shoulders before. I don’t know what he might have done to pull muscles this way, else than try to put books back where they belong if they were out of his reach and struggle with them. It wouldn’t really surprise me though it saddens me, really. I wish he’d ask for my help at times like these.
I look for my bathing suit and change into that and I head into the bathroom where we meet up. He grins sheepishly, his way of apologizing for bothering me and I roll my eyes as I get the water going. I get it as steamy hot as I know he’ll handle it and we get the waterproof bench settled in there. It’s where he’ll sit where I work the ache and pain out of him. We could have done it out in my room or his with just the heat from my hands and my gifts but he responds so much better to everything when there is water involved.
I just want him to feel better. I’ll do what it takes.