Friday, the best day of the week, no boring school, no feeling exhausted from feigning interest, Rylan lived for the weekends. He would storm upstairs ditching his bag in the hallway, ignoring the family pleasantries, sleeping until called for dinner. Any friends that came back with him ended up working on science projects with Ziva. Saturday was the best day of the week with his club meeting up, homework, space adventures, pirates, cowboys and mischief. Jose lit the barbecue, a selection of meats were placed over sizzling coals, drenched in his homemade sauce; the smells distracting the boys, their mouths watering. The boys were suddenly quiet, mouths full of food, munching on burgers and Strawberry gateaux, arguing over who has the bigger piece or the most strawberries, Aria aimed for the latter. Laying on the ground, cloud gazing with full stomachs, Rylan liked to contemplate the future, he might be a child, but he wished school was over and be able to do whatever, whenever.
Ziva’s weekends were for learning skills, beating Jose at Chess and reading. Unlike Rylan, Ziva was eyeing up high school and the possibilities it opened up for her future. Her focus was science, she spent all her savings on a chemistry set, Aria worried she would set herself or the garden alight, but Ziva proved herself capable, loving the experimenting. Aria and Jose were guinea pigs for her chemical formulas, nodding, smiling and pretending the green goop was appealing. Most of the time they pretended to sip the concoctions, noses cringing at the foul stench. Those rare successes offered, these delicious blends gave them a warm feeling, Aria imagined her daughter being award a Nobel prize for Science, it was hard to have the same dreams for her son, a lack of interest in anything other than causing trouble.
This weekend was unlike any other, a shockwave of grief hit the twins. Aria was busy with clients, Rylan his club when it happened. Jose putting the finishing touches to the sleeping cat, the blue echoing its serene nature. Each breath past easier than the last, leaving his body overwhelmed, fatigued. Ziva came skipping over, he turned towards her, a deep sadness in his eyes. The conical flask fell from her hands the blue liquid, splashing against her legs as the glass shattered. Ziva screamed running over to her father, followed by a few of the boys, sorrow replacing their joyous voices. Rylan playing as a space ranger, afraid to look at would be all he remembered of his father, he continued with his adventures, gritting the bars of his rocket tighter, grinding his teeth, holding back tears.
Moments passed slowly, a haze of comings and goings, blurring into one as the family got to grips with the loss. Rylan barely stepped foot out of his room, his silence echoed through the house, he trudged out for food, grunting when spoken to. Ziva kept her mind busy, fetching cups of tea for Aria, rereading her father’s books and keeping up with her studies. At night she could hear her mother crying, so she would sneak in and curl up in bed with her, allowing herself to cry with her, softly, so her mother didn’t have to worry. Ziva wanted to reassure Aria everything would be alright.
With Jose no longer there to enforce Rylan in his studies, his grades slipped. He faced his teens with the same contempt, blaming his mother and sister, a mean streak that made the household unbearable. Arguments with Aria over everything became a regular occurrence, schoolwork, friends, his late nights at the bowling alley, where, when and what dinner was ever the battle. The presence of the Major Chords group increased his agitation, angry that Aria was trying to keep going with her life, that she dared to laugh at their stories when he was missing his father. Pranks played included dips overloaded with chillies, salting the dessert and being rude during conversations, the members were reluctant to spend much time at the house and their meetings moved. Finding common ground with him was difficult, Rylan demanded independence, hating the idea there would be a curfew, he wanted to quit school and get a job.
When Jose died, Aria couldn’t breathe, he was everything, her world. Heart aching, she stared in the mirror, the loss ageing her significantly. Her enthusiasm waned, but in front of the twin’s Aria knew she needed to remain strong, despite her strained relationship with Rylan, they both needed her. Each morning Aria let herself lay in bed for a few minutes, stroking the pillow where Jose’s head had rested, his scent fading from this space. Taking a deep breath, she pulled herself together and readied for the day. Routine helped stay focused, leaving her restless nights and grief in private.