With The Summer Bank Holiday Upon Them, Magnus De Luca Decides On A Family Barbeque…
Summer, Year 5
“Why are we inside reading when you should be outside?” Magnus asked, somewhat irritably. He’d been reading to his youngest son, Che and it was beginning to irritate him. “I thought we were all supposed to take more exercise.”
“Madre said to wait until everyone’s here,” Che replied. “She said they won’t be long.”
Magnus sighed. It had been his idea to gather the family around for the bank holiday but he wasn’t keen on having to wait for them all to arrive. His wife had told him to be patient; Jared and Andrea were coming from Evergreen Harbour and Riccardo, Zoe and Rohan were all coming from Britechester.
Alex sulked as he fiddled with one of his projects. Magnus had caught him out a few days previously; he’d been hiding his projects away and not bothering with them for a large part of the school year. When his father had found them, he ordered him to finish them all before school started again in the autumn.
Irritated, Alex abandoned his project in search of food and found his younger brother Che in the kitchen. Now he could indulge in his favourite hobby; tormenting Che. He loved teasing his little brother and scaring him. There was something oddly satisfying about hearing Che scream when Alex jumped out on him. Suddenly, Alex’s day improved dramatically.
Che was frustrated. He hated being the youngest. Alex had been picking on him for years and was always so careful. He never did it in front of their parents and Che could never prove it, either. He flipped his journal open and began to scribble. Emilio had advised him to do it often enough, to release the anger.
“What the hell is wrong with you?” Alex snarled.
“You started it,” Emilio shot back. “You deserved it. Who do you think you are, keep picking on Che like that. What’s your problem?”
“He’s a pain. You didn’t have to slap me!” Alex glowered at his older brother.
Before Emilio could respond, they both heard their mother at the bottom of the stairs, calling them both. She didn’t sound happy.
“What’s the matter now?” Marie sighed wearily.
“Emilio slapped me!” Alex wailed.
“What did you say to Che, Alex? Because I just saw him in kitchen and he said you’ve been picking on him again.” She sighed again. “Emilio, why did you slap him?”
“Because he’s picking on Che!” Emilio said, angrily.
“Alex, leave Che alone!” Marie could feel her temper rising.
“I’ve really had enough of your attitude, Alex.” Marie said, furiously. “Sit down over there and don’t you dare move until I tell you!”
Alex hated being put in a time out. It felt so childish and stupid and it made him angry. Che irritated him by being so whiny; that wasn’t his fault. He also enjoyed being a bit mean to his siblings – especially Tara and Che. The others tended to fight back too much.
Determined to avoid the hostile atmosphere at home, Emilio nipped out for a run to clear his head. His older siblings would be home soon and frankly, he was very much looking forward to seeing them. Hopefully, some of Jared’s calm demeanor would help soothe the family.
Back in the house, Tara was feeling the wrath of her over-stressed parents.
“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean it.” Tara said, her cheeks flaming.
“Tara, he’s your brother. I know he gives you a hard time but he’s still your brother.” Marie frowned. She was beginning to wonder whether a family get-together with all the children had really been such a good idea. The tension in the house seemed to be getting worse.
“What’s the matter with you?” Magnus snapped. “All of you. You’re all behaving like a group of spoilt brats today!”
“Hadn’t you better get started with the food, Magnus?” Marie asked, suddenly feeling incredibly tired.
Grumbling all the way, Magnus slipped his apron on and slapped the veggie burgers down on the grill. A barbeque with his eldest children had sounded like a lovely idea at first; until Marie mentioned she’d invited Rohan and Andrea. It wasn’t quite what Magnus had had in mind. He couldn’t bring himself to like either of them much. He wasn’t enamoured with Andrea and all her eco-friendly nonsense and he didn’t think Rohan was appropriate for his eldest daughter. Knowing he’d have to be nice to them for the entire afternoon was driving him mad.
After what seemed like an age, Riccardo arrived. Emilio was waiting for him in the garden.
“Thank goodness you’re here,” he breathed as he hugged his older brother. “It’s been hell round here today.”
“I thought Madre looked a little stressed,” Riccardo said laughing. “Alex again?”
Emilio sighed. “Isn’t it always?”
“You okay there, Che?” Jared asked. He dropped to his knees and hugged his youngest brother tightly.
“Please come home, Jared,” Che whispered. “I miss you.”
Jared’s heart broke. He’d known for a while that Che was unhappy but he hadn’t realised it was this bad. He needed to do something.
Jared frowned at Alex across the table as Andrea chatted easily about her latest project. Riccardo was all ears; he was fascinated by Andrea’s line of work but Alex was already looking bored and Jared could feel himself tensing up. Even Magnus was making an effort, although Jared knew his father well enough to know when he was close to cracking.
This barbeque was definitely shaping up to be a bad idea.
“So you’re having a rough time at school then?” Riccardo asked Alex later. They’d finished eating and were chilling out in the lounge, listening to the stereo.
Alex frowned. “What a weird thing to say.”
Shrugging, Riccardo regarded his brother. “Not really. School can be a bit rough. Since you’re taking your aggressions out on everyone at home, I thought it was a fair assumption.”
“So…you’re not mad at me?” Alex asked, suspiciously.
“Not really. I mean, it’s not fair to be such a dick to everyone at home. We’re your family, Alex. As much of a pain as you can be, we still love you.” Smiling, Riccardo pulled his younger brother into a hug. “Come on. If you’re having a rough time, talk to us. We’ve all been there, Alex. We’d never think you’re silly.”
Alex was about to reply when they saw Zoe storming into the room, with Magnus close behind her.
“I still think you’re being a fool. Marriage, at your age?” Magnus shook his head in despair. “What the hell is that idiot thinking?”
Zoe could feel the anger rising. “You mean Rohan, I assume?”
“Well of course I do!” Magnus glanced irritably behind them, to where Rohan had appeared, talking to Tara. “He’s obviously not right for you, Zoe. You could do a lot better than that.”
“Back off!” Zoe thundered. “I thought you were going to be better than this! Madre promised you’d be better and that today wasn’t going to be about you and your hang ups!”
“Don’t you dare talk to me like that!” Magnus hissed.
“No, I will. Because that’s what it is. You’ve got some stupid problem with us growing up, meeting someone, moving out and getting married. You’ve given Jared a hard time because he’s getting married next month and you’ve given me a hard time because I’m engaged to Rohan. You’re only going easier on Ricky because he’s not met anyone serious yet.”
In the background, Riccardo and Alex raise their eyebrows. “And I thought I had problems,” Alex commented dryly.
“Wait until you get your first girlfriend,” Riccardo replied. “He’ll never forgive you for that.”
The brothers looking at each other and started laughing as Magnus and Zoe continued to rage.
Magnus had had enough. Zoe’s words had hit him hard and they hurt. Whether they were true or not, he didn’t care. He’d had enough of this barbeque and insisted everyone went home. He could feel the fury rising up and he needed them all to go.
After everyone had gone, Tara sat miserably at the dining table and flipped her journal open. For the first time in a long time, she had no idea what to write.
She’d loved seeing Zoe, Jared and Ricky again; she missed them terribly Her father’s moods were getting progressively worse and she was beginning to feel very, very low.