SISTERLY SUNDAY RITUAL by Bette Kosmolak

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My sister pops over for breakfast every Sunday. Like it’s a family ritual or something. She insists we need structure in our lives now that we’re both in Toronto and on our own. I tell her our nine-to-five jobs, five days a week, constitute the structure. She insists.

“With your work and mine,” she says, we don’t have time to meet during the week, so it will have to be Sundays.”

I relent. I am glad she wants to hang out. Truly, I am. She’s my only sister. But every Sunday?

Sunday mornings, we hunker down over my narrow kitchen table. It’s wood and looks as if it was homemade from three planks. It is. Three planks on four legs. But it works. She sits at one end. Me at the other. We linger over bacon and eggs. Over-easy for both of us which simplifies things. And coffee. Lots and lots of coffee. Each week, we indulge in our ritual: sharing whatever devilment we’ve gotten into the night before. However, be warned. Our ritual comes with a proviso: whoever has the least outrageous story about their previous evening cooks breakfast the following week. It’s my turn this week. My turn last week too.

This Sunday, sis arrives looking flustered. Almost panicked. From my balcony, I see her jump out of her car and race up the walk to my building. I flip the switch on the coffee maker and step outside my apartment door to greet her. As soon as the elevator doors open, she runs down the hall, her hands flapping wildly on either side of her head. She looks like an elephant rampaging across the savanna. Is there an emergency? Some calamity of one sort or another? Probably not; no one is chasing her. But, just in case, I prepare my body to receive bad news. Then, I spot her wide toothy grin.

She’s hardly in the door when she starts dancing about the kitchen. “You’re cooking again next week, too.”

“No shit Sherlock. Spill the beans.” I’m content to not have a life; I sat home the previous evening watching Saturday Night Live.

But not my sis. Oh no. Not her. She’s a walking-talking Saturday night series all on her own—the producer—the director—and the star of the show.

I burst into laughter at her excitement and pour our coffees because I can see her hands are still fluttering.

“Boy, have I got a story you won’t believe!”

“Go, girl—tell me already.” I set out cream and sugar and pull the salt and pepper shakers to the middle of the table.

“Bill and I…you know the barista at my Starbucks…”

I don’t know him, but I’ve seen him. She accepts my nod and goes on.

“I wanted to go to the singalong at the bar at the Royal York and, obviously, I didn’t want to go alone.”

“Obviously.” I get out the bacon and eggs and turn on the stove.

She sits down.

“So, I called Bill. He’s always singing when he works, so I figured he likes to sing.” She measures sugar and adds cream to her coffee.

“Good deduction.”

“Gawd, he’s so cute.”

She stops talking. Her eyes glaze over. I realize she’s in her head, reliving her chat with Bill. If I don’t prompt her, she’s going to stay in that warm, fuzzy memory forever.

“So, did he say yes?”

“There is a God!’ That’s what he said. Don’tcha love it?”

“There is a God. That’s what he said.” I pause to consider this. “So, you went?” I sear one side of the bacon.

“Yeah, we went. But the best part is that you won’t believe who sat at the table next to us.”

“You going to tell me or do I have to guess.”

“Bacon crisp, please,” she says.

“I know.” I turn over each slice of bacon and start the eggs.

“When we got there, we noticed the table next to us was empty with one of those Reserved signs on it. We must have spent nearly half an hour trying to figure out who would want to reserve a table at a singalong.”

“Beats me. I wouldn’t. Guess you didn’t either.” I flip the eggs. “Going to tell me?”

“Bill thought it must be some folk singer or city official. Maybe the Mayor. There is a God. How cute.”

“You’re still not telling me.” She infers from my tone I’m getting exasperated. I set down two plates. Plunk. Plunk. Each in their respective places.

“Willie Nelson!” Her voice is loud. Really loud.

“Nice try. Willie Nelson. In the bar at the Royal York. Like I’d believe that.”

“No, honest to goodness. They were singing This Land is Your Land…you know that song.” She looks at me, her eyes questioning the depth of my knowledge of folk songs.

I nod and wait.

“Suddenly, the band quits playing. And the room gets very quiet. And everyone turns to one another wondering what’s up. That’s when we see Willie Nelson stroll in with two…two, you hear me… very tall, gorgeous broads.”

“Broads? Can’t you say women? Or dates?”

“Trust me,” she says, pointing her dripping fork in my direction. Egg yolk spots the table. She doesn’t notice. “These were broads: four-inch heels, floor-length, clinging gowns…damn near shimmering…fur stoles around their shoulders even though it’s summer.

And they all sit at the Reserved table. Right next to us. Can you believe it? I thought Bill was going to shit his pants. I didn’t even know he was in town. Did you?”

I gather she means Willie, not Bill. I answer accordingly. “How would I know?” I methodically cut my eggs into manageable bites.

“Do you know how tiny he is? He’s shorter than I am for gawd’s sake. And skinny. He looked dreadful.” She forks a bite of egg into her mouth.

Probably hyped up on something I suggest.

“No doubt,” she says through her swallow, “but he’s so skinny, you can’t believe it. I was afraid to breathe in case I blew him into next year.”

“So, this is the truth? Willie Nelson and his entourage sat down next to you at the Royal York. Jeez, how come all the good stuff happens to you?”

“I know. Right?” She smiles. “At any rate, we’re sitting there, absolutely stunned. The whole audience is stunned. Everyone, even the group…I forget who was headlining…but the lead guitarist was really great. Not bad looking either. Your type. Not mine.”

“My type. Too bad I missed it.”

She cocks her head, shrugs, and scoops up another forkful.

“We’re trying, like good Canadians,” she says with a mouthful, “not to gawk.”

“So Canadian.”

“Yeah, I know. Right? The band leader gives Willie and his girls a big welcome, saying what an honour it is and all that, and the rest of us are still sitting there with our mouths hanging open. Nobody can believe this is happening. And we’re all sneaking little peeks…you know…like trying to pretend we’re not nosy.”

“Not nosy. I know. Like good Canadians.”

“Well, we start singing again–I mean it is a singalong—and everybody’s hoping Willie will join in. Imagine going to work on Monday saying you sang with Willie Nelson at the Royal York on the weekend! Damn, I can hardly wait.”

“You really going to say that at the bank?”

“Maybe…I don’t know. Maybe…if the moment’s right.”

She spaces out again. No doubt, trying to imagine the right moment.

“But, anyway,” she says before I can conjure up another prompt, “I’m staring at these women and wondering how long it takes them to get their makeup on—it’s perfection—when I get that little sense.”

“What little sense.” I know it’s a question but my voice drops rather than rises at the end.

“You know. That sense that your body knows something but hasn’t told your brain yet.”

“Oh, that sense.”

“Yeah, that one. Bill’s got a great voice. But it’s hard to listen to it because Bill’s not singing, he’s whispering about what knock-outs these women are. He’s telling me what a good time Willie is going to have later. Personally, I thought he could have kept that little remark to himself.”

I nod my agreement and continue eating my eggs before they get cold.

“Bill keeps saying that they must be models.”

“He thought they were models?”

“Well, they looked like models. You know: tall, slim, great bodies, flawless makeup, hair done to a tee. But suddenly I get it.” She flips a backhand across my arm, assuming I get it too. But I don’t. I’m focused on wrangling the pepper shaker out of her other hand before more black flecks fly about the room.

“They’re guys!” she says. Her hands flip up like spring-loaded levers. Egg yolk spatters the wall.

“Guys?”

“Yeah, guys.”

“You mean the women with Willie are men? Like real guys?”

“Yeah.” Her look says what part of that don’t you get?

“I whisper to Bill,” she says. “Look at their jawlines, the size of their hands. And Adam’s apples. Those aren’t women, I tell him.
Those are men. Bill—gawd he’s cute, especially his dimple—says they are too damned good-looking to be men. I say they are. He says they’re not. I insist they are. He insists they’re not.”

“Did you really think they were men? Or were you just teasing?” I pick up one slice of bacon and crunch through half of it.

“Of course, they were men. Both of them. You would know too if you’d been there.”

“Wow. That must have been a bit of a shock. Especially for Bill.”

“Here’s the shocker. The band invites Willie up to sing and when he gets on stage, I swear he grew six inches taller. I know you can’t grow taller but I swear he did. Right before our eyes.”

“He grew taller?”

“A lot. Bill thought it was star power. You know. How stars have that aura or something that makes them look taller than life.”

“Taller than life.” I pause to consider that and take a sip of my coffee. “So, did he sing?”

“That’s the best part. Your favorite.”

My coffee backs up into my nose before I can sputter. “Georgia on My Mind?”

“That’s your favorite. You should have been there. But I only heard part of it because Bill kept humming in my ear until I put my hand over his mouth.”

“You put your hand over his mouth.”

“You know. To stop him from humming”

“I know. But really. Couldn’t you just ask him?”

She shrugs as if to say ‘I’m-a- doofus-but-you-already-know-that.’

“Then Willie invited the girls up. They literally pranced onto the stage in their form-fitting gowns.” She picks up a well-done rasher of bacon and dances it across her plate as she says this. “And the whole audience stood. We were all clapping and cheering and whistling. It was like being at Caribana or the Pride Parade. The noise was bloody deafening and Bill kept whispering in my ear.

‘Look at the size of their feet. They’re huge. Absolutely huge.’”

“Their feet? Is that what convinced Bill they were men?”

“Yeah, crazy, eh? And you can bet after that I wasn’t going to tell him I wear size tens. That’s for sure.”

“For sure.”

“So, next week, you’re cooking. Right?”

I nod and drink the last of my coffee.

Bette Kosmolak is an emerging writer living on Vancouver Island. She is passionate about writing, reading, and art. Her work has appeared in Bright Flash and CV Collective.