TITLE: Dancing on the Edge
AUTHOR: Jos Mous
DISCLAIMERS: I own none of these characters, I’m not making any profit out of this, blahblahblah.
RATING: PG-13, I guess.
WARNING: Incest alert! Sam and Brooke may not be sisters, but Sam and Mac surely are. Furthermore there’s a 17 year age gap between the two of them! If you already get sick to your stomach even contemplating the possibility of, say, Buffy/Dawn you really do not want to read this fic.
NOTE: Written simply because It Had To Be Written By Someone.
Sam’s fingers were flying over the large, bulky keyboard that lay on the desk in front of her. The computer she was working on was old, considered prehistoric by people who had never even seen the 8-bit age. She was well aware of the fact that many of her colleagues found her old-fashioned. Some would consider this to be rather odd since she, at the age of 34, wasn’t considered to be “old”. Or at least, not in the field she was working in. Samantha McPherson was a politician and a member of parliament. Early on in her Journalism study, Sam had discovered that she found politics to be a lot more fun, so she had switched studies and had never looked back even once.
She was now working on a speech she planned to recite tomorrow, explaining exactly and in detail just why she thought the head of the Ministry of Defence was a complete idiot who wouldn’t be able to find his own butt with the help of an atlas and three GPS satellites. The trick, of course, was saying this without actually becoming insulting. She already had a rough draft, outlining her points and now she was trying to edit out the insulting parts. It was proving to be quite difficult for her.
That was why the sudden ringing of the front doorbell came as quite a relief for her. Sam quickly saved the document, shut off the computer, walked out of her small work room, down the stairs to the front door. When she opened it, she froze with shocked surprise.
The person standing at the other end of the doorframe was a teenage girl with black hair and brown eyes. She wore a black shirt under her black leather jacket, along with a black pair of jeans and a pair of black boots from an army surplus store. She also wore black eyeshadow, black lipstick and every single fingernail had been carefully painted black as well. She had a small rucksack flung over her shoulder and attempted to give off a vibe of casual indifference. Sam, however, could easily spot that the girl was simply very tired and had recently seen a little too much ugliness in the world.
“Hey Sam,” said Mackenzie. “Can I come in?”
Sam opened the door wider and stepped out of the way, indicating that the girl could come in. Mac walked past her into the living room, dumped the rucksack on the floor and flopped onto the blue couch. Sam, after having quickly closed the front door, joined her in the living room and sat down next to her.
“I… haven’t seen you in a while,” said Sam, not really knowing what to say and thinking that this was a pretty good opening.
Mac smiled a rather thin smile. “Nice to see you too.”
“Could you tell me why you suddenly show up in front of my house all alone?”
Mac sighed. “I need a place to crash, really. I figured you might take me in.”
Sam nodded. “You must be pretty desperate to come all the way to Europe just for a place to crash.”
“Dad kicked me out of the house and that shithead Brooke calls a husband wouldn’t take me in either. So, I begged mom for some money to fly here, hoping that… well…”
“I see,” said Sam. “Can I ask you why Mike kicked you out?”
“It’s a free country. Or so I’ve heard, anyway.”
“Why did Mike kick you out of the house?” Sam asked patiently.
“I’d rather not say.”
“Was it drugs?”
“Did you kill someone?”
“God, Sam, what do you think I am?”
“Listen, I’m not a criminal OK? The only thing I’m guilty of is aiding some people in performing statutory rape, got it?”
I see, thought Sam.
“Are you pregnant?”
“Look, it’s been a long flight and I’m tired. Can I crash here or do you want me out on the streets again?”
And now I’m sure.
“Of course you can stay here,” said Sam.
“Thanks,” said Mac gruffly. She stood up and picked up her rucksack from the floor. “Anywhere I can put my things?”
“I have a guest bedroom upstairs. Just up the stairs then immediately on the left. There’s a bed there too, if you’re really tired.”
“Thanks. See you at dinner then, I guess,” Mac head for the door that led from the living room to the small hallway and hesitated for a moment. She turned around. “Look, Sam, I know I’m really not the best of company right now. It’s just that I’m still going through some stuff I’d rather not be going through, so…”
“Hey, you just told me about Mike kicking you out. I don’t understand what you’re going through, but I think I can be quite understanding if you decide to start acting like a bitch.”
Mac smiled, a little more genuine this time. “Thanks.”
“Just don’t overdo it, hmm? After all, with all the experience I get in my profession I am more than able to out-bitch you any day of the week.”
“I’ll keep that in mind.”
Sam carefully cut a small bit of her pork chop and ate it. She watched Mac as she slowly chewed on the piece of meat. Even though dinner tonight consisted of meat, potatoes and beans, which were not Mac’s favourite choices of food, to say the least, the girl was eating everything and didn’t seem to be thinking about stopping any time soon.
That, of course, didn’t have to mean anything. Mac had just had a very long flight, not to mention a rather long ride, behind her and it was only natural that she was hungry. But still…
“Mac?” asked Sam.
“How are things at home? I mean, before…”
Mac shrugged. “Lots of yelling. Probably one of those weddings that only keep on existing because it’s in the best interests of the child.” Mac said those last words with such cynicism that it made Sam shiver.
“I see,” said Sam. “And did they yell at you too?”
Mac chuckled. “Didn’t get the chance. I made sure I was never home.”
Sam nodded. “And how’s Brooke?”
“Oh, she’s just peachy,” said Mac sarcastically. “After all, she’s got a pretty good job as a nurse in the hospital and she doesn’t even have to stay there very often because her so-called husband is usually too wasted to be really able to hurt her.”
Sam sighed. “I see,” she said again.
“It’s not your fault,” Mac said. “Mom and dad would probably fight even if you hadn’t left and I’m betting Brooke would’ve still taken such a crappy excuse for a human being as her husband.”
“Look, everything was still fine when you decided to move all the way over here. You couldn’t have known things would end up like this.”
“I wasn’t even at Brooke’s wedding.”
“Well that makes two of us then,” said Mac. “At least you’ve got the excuse of being on a different continent at the time.”
“Really?” asked Sam. “What was your excuse?”
“Didn’t have one,” said Mac. “Just wasn’t there when the parentals had to leave.”
“So where were you?”
“At a friend’s place.”
“What kind of friend?”
“Hey, I was 12. What kind of friend do you think?”
Sam sighed. “The way you just said it…” she let the sentence hang unfinished. “How did you do at school?”
“Pretty good, I guess,” said Mac.
“You were going to school, weren’t you?”
“Course I was. Any excuse to get out of the house.”
“That’s something at least,” said Sam. “How long are you planning on staying here?”
Mac looked down at her plate, futilely poking her potatoes with a fork. “I was sort of hoping on indefinitely.”
“In that case, I’ll have to see to it that you go to school.”
“Do you have to?” Mac asked.
“Mackenzie, you’re 17. That still makes you underage and I know that here compulsory education ends at 16, but if you want to stay here you’re going to school, understand?”
“Yes mom,” said Mac.
“And don’t call me mom.”
“Big sis then?”
“Just stick with Sam.”
And that seemed to be the end of the conversation. Sam quietly finished eating, then turned down Mac’s offer to help with the washing up. She had some thinking to do. She had lost touch with the rest of the family a few years ago. The only contact she had with them were postcards on birthdays and Christmas.
And now, as it turned out, her family was totally and utterly fucked up.
So here she was, with her sister half her age who probably had more problems than the average therapist could and who had done something (which could possibly be getting pregnant) that had caused her expulsion from the rest of the family.
And all Sam could do was hope that there were enough pieces left to glue the girl back together again.
Sam’s car pulled up in the small driveway next to her house. Inside the car was Sam, who turned off the engine, unbuckled her seatbelt and then sat back in the driver’s chair, staring out the windshield towards the white garage door.
Today had been a long day.
A really long day.
Being a member of one of the opposition parties all she could really do was argue a lot with members of the ruling parties and trying to sway a few of them to the point of view of her party. Today had been particularly trying. The ruling coalition was planning to take a few million euros away from the Ministry of Education and Sports and invest it in Defence. Needless to say, the entire opposition was vehemently against, save for the three representatives of the extreme-right party. In the end, the measure had not been passed, but it had required a lot of arguing, debating and even a little bit of name-calling.
What Sam really wanted right now was to order some Chinese food and take a really long hot bath. Not necessarily in that order. Unfortunately, she still had to deal with Mac. Or, to be more precise, all the paperwork that came with having Mac in the house. If Mac was really planning on staying indefinitely, she would have to be reported to Immigration at least. And since Mac was underage, she might also have to be forced to become Mac’s legal guardian lest she be sent back to the States.
Then there was the matter of school. Sure, saying that Mac had to go to school was easy, it was the actual finding of a high school for foreigners that would pose a bit of a problem. And when she had found one that wasn’t too far away there could still be problems in actually getting Mac accepted over there.
And then there was still the matter of just why Mac had to leave home in the first place. Which was quite possibly even worse than all the bureaucratic paperwork she’d have to deal with. At least she had some experience with paperwork.
Sam sighed and got out of the car. She unlocked the front door, opened it and sighed again. She quickly closed the door, hung up her coat and marched into the living room where she turned the volume of the radio down somewhat.
“Hey, I was listening to that,” Mac protested. The girl was lying on a couch, and had been looking at the ceiling, but was now glaring at Sam.
“Look, I know all about wanting to hear loud music. Just… not now, OK?”
“Rough day or something?”
“Want me to order a pizza or anything?”
“And how are you planning to do that?”
“You know, by phone, just dial up and… Oh.”
“Exactly,” said Sam. “Listen, I’m… I’m going to take bath now and then we’ll see about dinner, all right?”
“Oh, before you go…”
“I need new clothes.” Mac stood up from the couch to show that she was still wearing the same clothes she was wearing yesterday. “I didn’t exactly have time to pack, if you know what I mean.”
Sam smiled thinly. “Don’t worry. We’ll go shopping tomorrow.”
“Great. Thanks,” said Mac, before flopping down on the couch again.
“Don’t mention it. Anything else I can help you with?”
“Nah,” said Mac, ignoring the hint of sarcasm in Sam’s voice.
Sam left the room and headed up the stairs. She was halfway to the top when she heard that the volume downstairs had increased considerably once again.
They had ordered Chinese food. They had ordered only one portion, of course, since one portion is more than enough to feed three people. And since there were just two of them, there was bound to be leftovers. During dinner Sam and Mac talked about nothing in particular. Small, short sentences asking things that didn’t matter, saying things that weren’t important. Then, nearing the end of the dinner, Sam decided to ask what had been on her mind the most.
“Why did you have to leave home?”
“I don’t wanna talk about it.”
“I think you’ll have to.”
“Look, it’s over. It doesn’t matter.”
“You’re not going to let this rest, are you?”
“Not until I get an answer.”
Mac stared at her plate for a while.
“Fine then. You know what a town bicycle is?”
“Yes,” Sam answered calmly.
“I was it,” said Mac.
“Just because, OK? I wanted something, because I didn’t have anything.”
“Were things that bad?”
“Worse, probably. Anyway, I go through life thinking that contraception is something that happens to other people. So… well… guess.”
“Thank God, no.”
“So I was right yesterday. You’re pregnant.”
“I got pregnant, yeah. Dad wanted me to keep the baby.”
“Dad, you know, Mike, thought that I should drop out of school to give birth to the baby and take care of it all on my own. He thought it would teach me a lesson on responsibility and shit. Frankly, I think he just wanted to torment me with that.”
“So what did you do?”
Mac snorted. “Got an abortion, obviously. Anyway, I was so stupid to tell mom about it, who then told dad, who then freaked and put me out on the street with only the clothes I’m wearing. That’s the short version anyway.”
“Are you serious?”
“Does it look like I’m kidding?”
“How was it?”
“Ah, the usual. Lost of shouting and yelling and calling each other names and just a lot of fighting, basically.”
“The abortion, I meant.”
Mac was silent for a moment, then shrugged. “Doesn’t matter.”
“I think it does.”
“Look, it was just a clump of cells, OK? It had no mind, no life, no soul. It was an it, nothing more and I’m glad I’m rid of it.”
“That’s pretty cold.”
“It’s a cold world. Deal with it. Can I be excused?”
Without waiting for an answer, Mac got up from the table and left. Not long after, Sam could hear the loud thump of footsteps walking up the stairs, then the slamming of a door. Mac didn’t have a key or anything, so Sam could easily go to Mac’s room and continue to talk to her.
She didn’t. She didn’t know what to say or do if she got up there. So instead she cleared the table and went to do the dishes.
Had she gone up, she would have seen Mac crying her eyes out.
It didn’t take very long for Sam and Mac to fall into a kind of routine. Despite everything Hollywood tries to tell the world, most human beings are creatures of habit and would prefer tomorrow to be very predictable instead of filled with exciting surprises. In the mornings, Sam would get up first, go to Mac’s room to see that she was usually still asleep and, depending on her mood, wake her up or just let her be. Then she would go down to get breakfast and leave for work soon after. When she came, she usually made some hasty arrangements for dinner and spent the rest of the night looking at papers to ensure Mac’s stay and find a school for her.
Mac would spend the day lounging around the house, listening to the radio, watching a spot of TV and, if she really had to, do a bit of shopping at the local grocery. She often made plans of getting out of the house, going to the nearest city and start scouring bars, but she always gave up on those plans when she realised that she still didn’t speak the language.
Neither of them ever brought up the subject of Mac’s brief pregnancy again.
This went on for some weeks until one Sunday afternoon Sam sat down in the living room and looked serious enough for Mac to realise that there was going to be A Talk.
“Mac…” said Sam.
“Yeah?” Mac asked, turning off the TV and deciding to sit up a little straighter.
“You are going back to school tomorrow.”
“Tomorrow? Couldn’t you tell me that earlier?”
“I received the phone call only today.”
“Well, that’s great,” Mac said testily. “Which school is it and how am I supposed to get there?”
“It’s called the ‘William of Orange School’,” Sam said, smiling ironically. “I suppose someone found it very hilarious to name a school for foreigners after a national hero. It’s not very hard to reach. You just hop onto any bus here and you get off at the central bus station in the city. There you take line 35 and just sit in it all the way since the end of the line is right in front of the school.”
“Well, that’s something I guess,” said Mac. “Not sure if I speak enough Dutch for the bus, though.”
“You’ll probably do fine in English.”
“Here’s hoping. How ‘bout books?”
“I’ll order them first thing tomorrow, but it’ll take a few weeks before they arrive.”
“Figured as much. Anything else?”
“You’ll have to talk to the principal first tomorrow and he’ll show you around and everything.”
“Great. Was that it?” Mac asked, getting impatient.
“One more thing,” said Sam. “Don’t screw this up. I’ve managed a green card for you and I found a school for you. I’m not your legal guardian, however, and you’re not a citizen of this country so you really have to try your best.”
“Mac, they’ll send you back to the States.”
Mac froze, now she really looked at Sam. “What?”
“If you cause a lot of trouble or simply skip school Immigration will revoke your green card and send you back to Mike.”
“What? You’re a politician, can’t you do something about that?”
“I’m not above the law, Mac.”
“Well, I’m not going back.”
“Nobody said you have to.”
“You just threatened me with sending me back!” Mac yelled. “And I’m not going back, understand! Ever!”
“No, fuck you! I’ll throw myself of a bridge before I go back!”
“Mac, you can’t be serious!” Sam exclaimed, shocked.
“Damn straight I’m serious! I’d rather be dead than go back! And I mean it too.” Mac rolled up a sleeve from her black shirt and showed Sam the wrist of her left arm.
There were scars on it.
“You slit your wrists?”
“Three times,” Mac said, rolling the sleeve back down. “Survived them all, unfortunately. I was almost successful last time, if it wasn’t for the fact that mom had hired a cleaning lady and forget to tell me about it.”
“Gee, Sam, can’t you guess?”
“It couldn’t have been that awful.”
“Oh fuck Sam, grow up. Things can be that awful. They’re that awful in thousands of families.”
“But… how could… I mean… it was never like that when I…”
“I don’t know, OK? People change and all that. Dad’s a fucking bastard, mom’s an alcoholic and I got caught up in the middle.”
“Mom’s an alcoholic?” Sam asked, unable to grasp the concept.
“For the same reason I’m a slut. To escape reality for a while.”
“You are not a slut, Mac,” Sam said, her voice very carefully held evenly.
“Hello, Earth to Sam? Lost virginity at 12, got pregnant at 17 and got fucked everywhere anyone wanted to in-between? Face it, I’m a slut.”
“You are not a slut. You just… did that to survive.”
“OK, fine, I’m not a slut. Happy now?”
“Mom’s an alcoholic?”
Mac looked at Sam’s face and saw the she was on breaking point. She wasn’t surprised when Sam started crying not long after.
“Aw, shit,” muttered Mac.
The teenager walked over the woman, sat down next to her and pulled her into a hug. Sam gratefully accepted the comforting gesture and cried into her shoulder.
“And here I was thinking you adults always kept things together,” Mac muttered, gently stroking the brunette’s hair as she sobbed.
Mr Peters (“Call me Robert”) was a small, smiling bald man who completely failed to impress Mac when she first saw. He was, apparently, her new principal and seemed to be quite enthusiastic about having a new student. The enthusiasm wasn’t mutual. Mac was sitting in an uncomfortable chair in the small grey office, while Mr Peters was busy typing furiously on his computer.
“So, you’re Mackenzie McQueen,” he said, in rather bad English.
“I don’t have any information about your… err… other school, but it’ll be here soon.”
“Yes, well. Err… in the meantime I’ll just stick you in a beginner’s class, shall I?”
“Beginners?” Mac asked. “I’m 17 can’t you stick me someplace higher?”
“No, no, I mean a class for people who are just here and don’t speak the language. We find language very important here.”
“Also, may I ask why you are here?”
“To get an education, maybe?”
Mr Peters chuckled and smiled amiably, annoying Mac to no end. “Yes, yes. I mean in this country, of course.”
“None of your business.”
“I said it was none of your business,” Mac repeated, a tad angrier this time.
“Oh,” said Mr Peters. “The… err… the computer tells me you’re staying with a Samantha McPherson?”
“Are you related?”
“She’s my sister.”
Mr Peters looked positively confused. “Your sister? But she’s so much… older than you.”
“She’s my half-sister. My mom is her mom, but my dad isn’t her dad. It’s a marriage thing.”
“Oh, I see,” said Mr Peters. He typed something down. “Now then, what’s your stance on religion?”
“Don’t have one, why?”
“Err… the majority of our students is Muslim and sometimes our… err… Caucasian… students have a problem with that.”
“Gee,” said Mac blankly.
“You don’t have a problem?”
“But you are American.”
Mac raised an eyebrow. “So?”
“Well… you put much stress on September 11 for years.”
“Feeling a bit prejudiced, are we?”
“Not to offend,” said Mr Peters quickly. “But you have done… much… because of it.”
“I’m aware of that. And no, I don’t have a problem with Muslims. Can we move on?”
“Of course, of course,” said Mr Peters. “Shall we go to your class then?”
“Sure,” said Mac, feeling a tad relieved that she could get of the cramped office.
Mac got up and followed Mr Peters to the classroom. Once she had been introduced to everyone she sat down next to some girl wearing a kerchief and looked at the teacher, an enthusiastic man in his early twenties.
Well, thought Mac, as the lesson started. Guess it’s time to go try out the good-girl thing then.
Sam was busily working on her slightly archaic computer one Saturday afternoon when Mac decided to go take a shower. This was not a problem, of course, since Sam’s computer was not in the bathroom. What was a problem was that the bigger of the two clothes hampers in the house was standing inside Sam’s bedroom and that the way from Sam’s bedroom to the bathroom led past Sam’s little workroom. This still shouldn’t have posed a problem if Sam kept the door to her room closed, but, having lived alone for quite some time, she normally didn’t.
“Mac?” asked Sam, her eyes fixed on the screen in front of her.
“Yeah?” came Mac’s voice from the bathroom.
“The one on your upper left arm.”
“Oh, right. Thanks.”
“Still, I’d prefer it if you didn’t walk around the house stark naked.”
There was a slight pause.
“No problem,” said Sam. “Just keep something on in future.”
“Right. I’ll do that.”
As the sound of rushing water started to filter into Sam’s room, the brunette stood up from her chair, walked over to the door, very firmly closed it, walked back to her chair, sat down again and continued working. She focused on her work with a kind of angry determination. She often did this, when she was upset about something. Right now, she was very upset about something. From the moment Sam had seen Mac on her doorstep, she knew that she wasn’t the same little kid she had last seen about 13 years ago. But now that she had seen Mac walk past her open door like that did it really hit Sam that Mac had grown up into a beautiful young woman.
A very beautiful young woman.
A very upsetting beautiful young woman.
The keyboard cried and rattled as Sam punched the keys and if the screen had been able to see anything it would have shut itself off in an attempt not to see the angry glare in Sam’s eyes.
Mac had often complained about the fact that Sam didn’t have an automatic dishwasher. Lately, however, she had stopped complaining and simply accepted the fact that she’d be drying dishes for as long as she stayed here. After all there were worse things than having to dry the dishes. This was something Mac knew for a fact.
What she also knew for a fact was that Sam had been very quiet today and had tried hard not to look at her or even be around her. This disturbed Mac somewhat. She knew all about avoiding, since it was an art she had practised daily when she was still living with her father and mother. She felt she had therefor enough experience to notice if someone was trying to avoid her. Especially if that someone was still very new at avoiding someone else.
“Did I do anything wrong?” Mac asked.
“What?” Sam asked, coming back from whatever thoughts were in her mind.
“Did I do anything wrong?” Mac asked again, while putting a few cups in the cupboard.
“Err… no. You didn’t do anything wrong,” Sam said.
“Then why are you trying to avoid me?” Mac asked.
“I’m not trying to avoid you,” said Sam.
“Yeah, and I’m the pope,” said Mac. “C’mon, I know there’s something wrong. The least you could do is tell me what.”
“We didn’t grow up together, did we Mac?”
“Err… no,” said Mac, confused at this turn of the conversation.
“I left for Europe when you were just four years old.”
“That’s right. Where’s this going?”
“The only things I’ve seen of you growing up were pictures Brooke sent me by e-mail.”
“Your point being?” Mac asked, getting impatient.
“You’re not my sister, Mac.”
“What do you mean?” Mac asked, suddenly turning pale.
“We don’t have a sisterly bond,” Sam said, as if trying out the words for herself. “We’re practically strangers from each other.”
“Sam… what are you saying?”
Sam looked at Mac and upon seeing the fearful look on the younger girl quickly smiled.
“Don’t worry, this doesn’t change anything. You’re still my sister and I’ll take care of you as long as you want.”
“But… you just said…”
“Never mind that,” Sam said quickly. “I was just trying to explain something to myself, really. Don’t worry.”
“Right,” said Mac, not entirely sure if she believed her.
“The point is, we’re sisters and the mere fact that we were separated for so long doesn’t change that.”
“I see,” said Mac.
“So, how was school?” Sam asked in a forcedly cheerful tone.
“It’s Saturday. There was no school today.”
“Right, right,” said Sam. “Well then, let’s just… get on with the dishes, OK?”
“Fine,” said Mac.
Mac took a plate from the drying-rack and started to dry it. She didn’t think very often. Or at least, she didn’t used to think very often. In the past, thinking had hurt and it was better to do something, anything, to distract her from her thoughts. But now that she was living with Sam, she had started thinking a lot. She thought about home and how she didn’t want to go back there. She sometimes thought about the times she tried to commit suicide. She thought about the careful friendships she was forming at her new school. She thought about sex. She quite often thought about her baby and how she should tell the truth about it to Sam. Right now, Mac was applying these new-found thinking skills to Sam. Sam had just said that she was acting weird around her because, evidently, she hadn’t “explained” something to herself. Mac wondered what this “something” was. It had something to do with her, obviously. It had something to do about the fact that they were sisters. It also had something to do with Sam having some sort of difficulty with this “sister” concept.
But why would Sam have difficulties with the fact that they were sisters?
And why would Sam have difficulties now?
What had happened that…
An answer presented itself to Mac.
No. Fucking. Way.
Mac had a friend. She had been greatly surprised when she discovered this. Up until now, she had never had friends. She had mostly had… passing acquaintances. And of all the people Mac had ever thought she might possible befriend, a girl like Fatimah wasn’t amongst them. Fatimah was a demure Muslim girl with a rather traditional upbringing. She wore a kerchief and shapeless dresses that reached the ground, she prayed a lot, she always said that love wasn’t important, but that finding a husband who had the right faith was. In spite of these strange ideas, Mac could get along with Fatimah just fine as long as they avoided certain topics.
Right now, Mac really felt the need to talk to someone she trusted. The big problem was, she didn’t trust anyone. Well… she had grown to trust Sam, but that was the last person she wanted to talk to about the subject that had been bothering. She thought she could trust Fatimah, but she wasn’t completely sure. She had a feeling that the girl could turn on her at any moment.
Then Mac realised she was being silly. People had turned on her all the time in the States. But this weren’t the States. And Fatimah certainly wasn’t just another pussy that Mac wanted to use for a night or two.
Constantly reminding herself of that fact, Mac walked up to Fatimah one day after school and asked the girl if she would join her on a walk across the grounds so that they could talk in relative peace and quiet. When they walked there was peace. And there was quiet. There wasn’t much talking, though.
“Is something bothering you?” asked Fatimah, when she felt the silence had gone on long enough.
“Yeah,” said Mac.
“And you want to talk about it?”
“I don’t really want to, but I feel I really need to.”
“You see, the thing is… I have this friend, right? And we’re close. I mean, we’re, really, really close. We’re like… we’re like brother and sister, you know?”
“Yes,” said Fatimah in a “Go on, I’m listening” tone of voice.
“Well… the thing is, I… he… he sort of accidentally… saw me naked.”
“I see,” said Fatimah, her expression carefully blank.
“Hey, it’s not like I flashed my tits at h… at him or something. He was just… at my house one day and I decided to take a shower and he accidentally saw me walking naked across the hallway.”
“I suppose that can happen.”
“Well and then he… he sort of hinted that… I mean, he didn’t exactly hint, but from what he said I could sort of… deduce that he might find me attractive.”
“This doesn’t surprise me. I can plainly see you are very attractive.”
“Come on, don’t start dissing my clothes and I won’t say anything about the curtains you’re wearing.”
A smile flashed over Fatimah’s face. “Oh, very well then. But I’m afraid I don’t see the problem.”
“Like I said, we’re like brother and sister and the thought that he could find me attractive is… well it’s disgusting!”
“So… you’re disgusted by your best friend.”
“No! That’s the whole problem! I should be disgusted, but I’m not!”
“Perhaps you love him.”
“What? No. No way. I so do not love him. Not like that, anyway.”
“It’s not uncommon for friends to fall in love.”
“No, but…” Mac sighed. “Never mind.”
“Very well then,” said Fatimah. “I should probably go. Lots of homework.”
“Best of luck.”
“Thanks. Good luck with your friend.”
“Yeah,” said Mac.
Best friends could fall in love. There was nothing wrong about that. But siblings, no, they couldn’t fall in love with each other. That was sick, perverted, disgusting.
And besides, Mac didn’t love Sam. Sure, she trusted her and cared for her and… well… loved her in a non-romantic sense. And, OK, from a objective point of view, Sam was quite attractive.
But Mac wasn’t attracted to her, because that kind of attraction was just sickening.
And two sisters making love to each other, that was… well, that would be…
Disgusting! Totally, utterly disgusting!
And there was no possible way that Mac could even be remotely attracted to Sam.
Now, if she just kept telling herself that long enough…
It was early in the evening and Sam and Mac were lounging on the couch, sort of watching TV. There wasn’t anything interesting on, so they both stared at the screen without watching it. During a commercial break, Mac figured she really needed to talk to Sam before her worrying lack of disgust turned into something of a obsession. The show they were staring at was already over, however, when Mac had finally found the courage to speak.
“You know, the other day, during the dishes when you were… acting a little freaky?”
“Well, why were you acting a little freaky?” Mac asked.
“It was like I told you, I needed to work something out.”
“Yeah, but what, exactly?”
“Just… where the two of us stand.”
“And did it have anything to do with… seeing me in the nude.”
Sam was silent for a moment. Then she said, “Of course not.”
“I don’t believe you,” said Mac.
“Mac, you are a very attractive young woman, I won’t deny that. But we’re sisters.”
“And sisters aren’t attracted to each other, right?”
“I don’t like that tone of voice.”
“Well too bad, I’m using it anyway. Face it, you saw me naked and it turned you on.”
“Mac!” Sam said indignantly.
“Well, didn’t you?” Mac demanded.
Mac looked at Sam and saw her eyes. There was anger there, like she had
expected, but also… something else.
“I wasn’t “turned on” when I saw you like that,” Sam said. “But I’d be lying if I said I never think about that moment.”
“And when you think about it, do you want that moment to last longer?”
“Mac, I refuse to talk about this any longer. We’re sisters, it’s wrong.”
“And with those words you admit you’re attracted to me!”
“Mac, we are sisters,” said Sam calmly. “If I would really be physically attracted to you, which I’m not, I certainly wouldn’t act on it.”
“Because it’s wrong,” Mac finished sarcastically.
“No it’s not,” said Mac, surprising even herself. “I know about wrong. I’ve seen wrong. I’ve seen it so much it almost killed me three times. And if you love me, that’s not wrong. I think that no matter how you look at it, love can never be wrong.”
“It is,” said Sam.
“Show me where it is written then!” Mac shouted. “Show me the insane deity that carved the words “Thou Shalt Not Love” on a stone tablet!”
“I won’t hear any more of it!” Sam snapped. “I do not love you in that way and I am certainly not attracted to you in that way.”
“Well, I do love you, so there!”
“I beg your pardon?”
“I said I…”
Mac trailed off. “I love you”. That’s what she said. It was one of those damn Freudian slips. It hadn’t been meant to be said, it hadn’t even been meant to be thought. But it was there. And the really aggravating thing about Freudian slips is that they’re the truth. And it was logical too, in a sense. Mac’s childhood had left her as a fucked-up headcase and Sam was the first person to genuinely care for her, unconditionally.
How could you not fall for a person like that?
Fuck! thought Mac when she realised where her thoughts were leading her. I want Sam... I want my sister, for fuck’s sake, to love me. Fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck, FUCK!
“Mac…?” Sam said carefully.
“What?” Mac asked gruffly, resurfacing from her thoughts.
“What you just said…”
“I know what I just said.”
“Was that… Did you really mean that?”
Mac snorted. “Yeah. I meant it. I know I want you and it’s possible I love you.”
“Well, it’s not like I have a lot of experience with love, now is it?” Mac snapped.
“Mac… I want you to think about this carefully… do you… want me to… to kiss you?”
Mac looked at Sam sceptically. “What happened to all the “it’s wrong” stuff?”
“That was before you said you love me.”
“Wait, are you saying…?”
Sam looked down at her hands, folded in her lap. “Ever since I saw you… No, it started even before that. I can’t stop thinking about you. I just can’t. I try and I try and I try and then the moment I let my thoughts slip out of my control I see you. Not naked, not in a sexual situation, just you, Mackenzie McQueen, saying that you love me.”
“And what do you say then?”
“I love you too.”
A day passed. And another. And another. And in that time, little was said. Certain subjects got carefully avoided. There are just some things you don’t talk about. And then one night, Mac got fed up with it. She was tired of lying alone in bed touching herself, thinking of Sam while it was very possible that she could simply be with Sam. Mac got out of bed, walked over to her closet and took out a night-shirt. She normally slept in the nude and hadn’t been very happy when Sam had insisted on buying it for her, but now it came in very handy. Mac left her room, entered Sam’s room, walked over to the bed and stopped, wondering how to proceed from here. She knelt down on the floor and looked at the sleeping woman. It was dark, so she couldn’t see much. She vaguely saw Sam’s face, but she could still see the similarities between them. Mac realised that if Sam had been the odd 17 years younger, the two of them might’ve passed for twins.
Mac hesitantly reached out and softly stroked the woman’s hair. In her sleep, Sam gave a little sigh of contentment.
“Sam?” Mac whispered. She waited for a moment, then said the woman’s name again, a little louder this time.
“Hmm?” Sam said, slowly opening her eyes. “Mac?”
Mac smiled and pulled her hand back from Sam’s hair. “Yeah.”
“What are you doing here? It’s the middle of the night.”
“I know, but… we need to talk.”
“Can’t it wait?”
“No,” said Mac. “We’ll just avoid the issue again.”
Sam sighed. “OK, talk.”
“I love you, Sam. More than I should. And you told me you loved me too.”
“I know what I said,” Sam said softly. “That doesn’t mean anything.”
“But it does, Sam. I love you, I want to be with you.”
“I know Mac and I admit, I feel the same way, but… people won’t understand.”
“Sam, I don’t give a rat’s ass about people’s opinions. And you shouldn’t either.”
“Sam, look me in the eyes and tell me that you don’t love me enough to have some kind of relationship with me and I’ll leave and won’t bring up the subject ever again.”
“Mac, that’s not fair.”
“Tell me, Sam.”
Sam looked up and into her sister’s eyes. They say the eyes are the mirrors of someone’s soul. Sam wasn’t entirely convinced that this was true. But even in the darkness, she could see things there. Fear, anger, anguish, pain, love, beauty. Sam knew perfectly well she had feelings for her sister that she shouldn’t have. But she thought that she could simply ignore them until Mac found someone of her own age and who wasn’t related to her to fall in love with. But as Sam looked into Mac’s eyes, she could see that wasn’t going to happen. Mac had already made her decision, if it was possible to “decide” who you were going to love.
“I want you to realise the consequences if we’re really going to do this. You can’t tell anybody, we can’t openly share affection, we have to keep this a complete secret.”
“Does that mean that we… you know…”
“Yes,” Sam said. “God help me, but… if you really love me, then… maybe we can make it work.”
Mac smiled and hesitantly leaned forward. When she noticed that Sam wasn’t going back away, she leaned in completely and kissed her. Mac had kissed and been kissed before, but not like this. Never like this. She had been kissed just before sex and a few times even during sex and those kisses had been hungry and impatient, as if it was just something to do to fill the time before the fucking really started.
This was strange… sort of… gentle. It didn’t feel as good as an orgasm, but it did make her feel better than when she had an orgasm. It made her feel…
Mac had never been loved before. She rather liked the feeling.
The kiss ended the way it had started: slow, soft and gentle.
“Wow,” said Mac.
“Yeah,” said Sam.
“Sam, can I… can I sleep with you… I mean, in your bed, with you, not in the… well, you know…”
Sam smiled. “Of course you can.”
Mac quickly got into bed and felt Sam’s arms around her, pulling her closer. The girl revelled in the feeling. It was like the kiss, in a way, something wasn’t exactly sexual, but simply lovingly.
“I love you, Sam.”
“I love you too, Mac.”
Mac reached up, Sam reached down and their lips met again somewhere halfway. During the kiss, the two sisters tried to pull each other as close to themselves as the could, hands roaming backs, legs becoming entwined. Almost on automatic, one of Mac’s hands left Sam’s back, towards her stomach and then down.
“Mac…” Sam gasped, breaking the kiss.
“Sam, I want to make love to you. Please?”
“If you do that, there really will be no going back.”
“Sam, there was no more going back ever since the day I rang your doorbell.”
Sam smiled. “That’s true, I guess.”
Sam briefly stroked Mac’s cheek with her hand and kissed her. “Do what you will. I’m yours.”
It was some time later. Sam didn’t really know how much later. From the moment Mac had first kissed her, time had stopped having meaning. Mac was sleeping peacefully, using her body as a pillow. The few clothes they had both been wearing were now lying next to the bed. Her younger sister had made love to her. She didn’t feel dirty, as she had expected. Instead she felt as if things were right for the very first time in her life.
She had a feeling she shouldn’t feel like this. She also had a feeling that maybe it should actually bother her that she didn’t feel dirty.
And after Mac had so expertly driven her to a peak, she had wanted to repay the favour and had made love to her sister. Unlike Mac, Sam had never been with a woman before and at first she hadn’t really known what to do. But, ironically enough, Mac had patiently guided Sam each step of the way until…
Eyes closed, face scrunched up, Mac had shouted a single word.
And in that cry, Mac had somehow managed to convey how much she loved her.
It was sick, wrong, twisted and disgusting.
But Sam didn’t care any more. She wasn’t certain if she loved Mac as much as the girl loved her, but she wasn’t going to let her notice the difference.
Sam kissed the sleeping girl’s hair, closed her eyes and tried to get a little sleep as well.
Sam was sitting on the couch in the living room with both arms around Mac, who was half sitting, half lying on the couch. They hadn’t really talked again since last night. They had kissed and hugged and sometimes touched each other, but they hadn’t talked. Right now, words weren’t necessary and they both had a feeling that if they would try to simply sit down and really talk about things, everything would fall to pieces.
“Sam…” said Mac, slowly and reluctantly.
“You know how I got pregnant?”
“You told me, yes.”
“And… do you know how I got an abortion.”
“Well… I sort of didn’t.”
“Her name’s Jennifer. And I left her behind in the States with dad.”
“Are you… feeling nervous?”
“No. Why do you ask?”
“You seem to have developed a very endearing… err… tic.”
“What do you mean?”
Sam was sitting in a pretty comfortable plush blue chair. Mac was sitting next to her in a very similar chair. The younger girl’s right hand was constantly tapping the armrest while her eyes expressed a sense of cold terror.
“Are you afraid of flying, by any chance?” Sam asked.
“Then how about you stop tapping?”
“What are you talking about?”
Sam sighed. For a moment, she wondered how the girl ever managed to get to Europe. Then she decided to take an approach that had been successfully used time and time again. Well, in movies at least. She took Mac chin in her hand, turned the girl’s head so that it was now facing her and leaned in.
It was a small room of a small motel containing only a few small cockroaches. They had arrived here last night and had spent the night, which had been fairly pleasurable. It had been a little less than two weeks that Sam had first made love to her sister and ever since then it had become more and more… natural. At first Sam had still been very ambiguous about the whole thing. Her mind kept insisting that having an affair with her sister was just plain wrong and sickening. But that voice had gradually faded and had been replaced with a voice that kept insisting that this relationship was not healthy for Mac’s mental wellbeing somehow. That this relationship would end up hurting Mac in the long run. And then that voice had faded as well. Now, Sam was nothing but proud that she had been able to win her sister’s love. She knew full well that the entire rest of the world would disapprove of this if they ever found out, but she also knew full well that there wasn’t a single part in her mind and body any more that told her that this thing with Mac had to stop.
She was happy about this. Now she could give her sister all the love she deserved.
Sam smiled at her reflection in the mirror of the medicine cabinet. She put away her toothbrush and toothpaste and then left the tiny bathroom and stepped back into the small room. In the time that Sam had taken to brush her teeth, Mac had got up as well. Or at least, she had got out from under the sheets. She was sitting on the edge of the bed, leaning back slightly so that her naked body was clearly visible. Sam looked at her for a moment and felt the fire course through her body.
Not long ago, she still would have been ashamed of that reaction. Coming to terms with her love for Mac had been much easier that coming to terms with her desire for her sister’s body. In any normal relationship, honest love was right and pure lust was sort of wrong. In an incestuous relationship, honest love was wrong and pure lust was so incredibly wrong that there was no word strong enough to describe it.
Yes, she wanted her sister’s body.
Yes, such a desire was wrong.
And no, she didn’t really care about that either.
“Did I already mention I love you?” Sam said.
“Not since the three times when I woke up,” said Mac. The girl stretched lazily, arching her back slightly.
“You’re not being very subtle, Mac,” said Sam, with a slight smile.
“Subtlety is relative,” said Mac. She stood up, ran her hands over her body once and slowly walked towards Sam, moving her body sensuously. When she was standing in front of Sam, she pulled the woman down into a searing kiss. “Come back to bed with me,” she whispered huskily.
“I stand corrected,” said Sam.
“I wasn’t trying to prove a point,” said Mac. “Come on…”
“As much as I want to… no.”
Mac pouted. “Aww, please?” she said, her hands wandering in places that could just barely be classified as not intimate.
“Mac, we don’t want to keep Jennifer waiting.”
Mac quickly stepped back, a frown on her face. “That wasn’t fair.”
“We’re not here to have fun,” said Sam.
“I know…” said Mac. “I just… I was just trying to forget.”
“Mac, do you honestly want your daughter to grow up with Mike for a father?”
“Dammit, Sam,” said Mac.
“I’m sorry,” said Sam. “But please, just get dressed and let’s go. The sooner we’re done, the better, right?”
Mac stood in front of the door. She looked at the door. Then, she looked at the doorbell. She looked at it for quite some time. Then she looked back at the door. She closed her eyes, took a deep breath, and rang. She stood still, realising that her body was shaking with dread. She felt a comforting hand slip into one of her own and give a slight squeeze. The dread didn’t leave.
Mac whimpered as the door opened to reveal the figure of Mike McQueen. It took the man a few seconds to take in who was standing in front of him. Then his face contorted into a mask of rage.
“Where have you been!” he bellowed. “You’ve been gone for months!”
“I know,” said Mac, her voice small. “I’m sorry.”
Mike looked at Sam and didn’t recognise her.
“I take it you found her,” he said. “No doubt walked in on her when she was screwing your son. Well, don’t worry, I’ll take care of her.”
“Actually, she came running to me when she left here,” said Sam.
“And now you’re here to bring the little troublemaker back,” said Mike. He turned back to look at Mac. “Haven’t you realised yet we’re all you’ve got!? No-one would want a worthless little slut like you!”
Sam’s hands clenched, her jaw stiffened.
“I’m sorry for the inconvenience,” said Mike, looking back at Sam. “You don’t
have to worry about her any more.”
Sam’s anger flared. She was against violence on principle. But, she realised, there were times that her principles had to take a back seat. She pulled back with one fist, then let it rush forward, hitting Mike squarely in the face. Mike fell back, hit the ground and didn’t get up. It took Sam a moment a moment to stop trembling with rage. When she did, she noticed that Mac was trembling as well. Only not with rage.
Mac had her eyes closed, she seemed to be talking to herself.
Instinctively, Sam pulled the girl into a hug. Mac broke out of her reverie and cried.
“Seventeen years,” she whimpered.
“It’s OK,” Sam said soothingly.
“All those things…”
“They were lies.”
“I hate him,” Mac whispered.
“I hate you!” Mac screeched, freeing herself from Sam’s embrace and turning to the still unconscious body of her father. “I fucking hate you!”
She kicked Mike twice, then straddled him and starting pounding his face, all the while declaring her hatred. Sam stood by and watched impassively. When she felt it had gone on long enough, Sam lay a hand on Mac, calming the girl.
“Go get Jennifer.”
Mac stood up, gave Mike’s prone body one more kick for good measure and dashed into the house.
Sam remained outside, thinking. The whole scene had lasted less than a few minutes. A few minutes were not enough to understand what Mac had gone through for those seventeen long years, but had been more than enough to give at least a little insight.
Loving her sister was wrong?
Well… even she had still really believed that, this would’ve erased the last traces of doubt. There were a lot of things in this world that were wrong and, apparently, Mac had experienced most of them first hand.
No, love was never wrong.
Sam looked up and the residual anger of Mike treatment of her sister drained away.
“Mom?” Sam whispered.
“What’s going on?” Jane asked. She looked old. Well, of course she had aged since last Sam saw her, but she had aged much more than she should have.
“I… punched Mike’s lights out,” Sam said.
“Why are you here?”
“Did you see Mac?”
Jane nodded. “Briefly, when she ran up the stairs.”
“Well, when she ran away here, she ran to me. And now we’re only here to pick up her baby.”
Jane nodded again. “Good.”
“Mom, how are you?”
Jane sighed. “Bad.”
“Why are you still with Mike? Why didn’t you just pack up and leave when Mike turned out to be…”
“A total bastard?”
“I can’t Sam,” said Jane.
“Why not? You can start over somewhere.”
“No, Sam. I’m too old to start over. I don’t think there’s very much for me left.”
“She’s fine now that she’s with me.”
“Good,” said Jane again. “Take good care of her, will you?”
“I promise,” said Sam. “I’ll… make sure she’ll be loved.”
Jane nodded. “Brooke’s in Canada,” she said.
“Brooke… followed Mac’s example. She’s someplace in Canada now. Doing well, I hear.”
“So that means everything is all right.”
Jane held up her hand. “I won’t hear of it Sam. I have three daughters and all of them are fine. I’ve… done my duties as a mother.”
“And now you can rest easily?” Sam said sarcastically, but with a hint of fear.
“Perhaps,” said Jane.
“Let it rest, Sam. Take care of Mac and make sure Jennifer gets a good home.”
Sam sighed. “I will.”
Jane nodded and headed back into the house.
“Bye mom,” said Sam.
Jane paused. “Goodbye, Sam,” she said and disappeared into the house.
A few moments later, Mac appeared again, carrying a sleeping Jennifer on her back in a sort of rucksack and carrying several items.
“Got everything,” she said.
“Put them in the car.”
“Yeah,” said Sam. “Yeah, I guess.”
They put Jennifer’s things in the trunk and, with some difficulty, managed to install the baby on the back seat. Sam put the keys into the ignition, hesitated for a moment and looked back at the Palace. Mac followed her gaze.
“I can’t keep wondering what happened,” Sam said. “What made everything change?”
“Things have never changed,” said Mac.
“You were four when I left and everything was still fine then.”
“Really? Can’t remember. Can we go now?”
“Sure,” said Sam.
Sam turned on the engine and a few moments later, the car drove away from the Palace. Sam and Mac and Jennifer. They would make a strange family, Sam mused, and she and Mac would make very strange parents. But at least they would be loving parents.
And there are worse things.
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