A brother is a friend given by nature. ~ Jean Baptiste Legouve
Max sat on the couch of his apartment, his phone in hand, and a foot crossed over to his left knee. He tapped his foot impatiently, waiting for her call. His sister would be flying over from New York, and so far, the flight had a delay, she had to do a layover in Chicago, and as far as he was concern, the airline company was avoiding his calls. When they did pick up, they indirectly answered his questions, adding more ticks to his anger count.
The storm that just blew over had caused the plane to land for a bit again, she was now in Colorado, just a few states over from where he was. He contemplated on just driving over and picking her up, but when he thought about it, it was really inconvenient. They had already paid for her flight, and it would waste gas driving over there.
The anxiousness built in his body and he stood up, pacing as he slid a finger across the screen of his phone to unlock it. He had opened up kik messenger and began typing in his sister’s screen name.
SchneiderMan: Where’re you now?
He made sure his message was delivered before locking his screen. Almost instantaneously he received a reply.
Tiff_Schnei: Just got back on the plane, storm blew over. Heading to Cali now. They said we’ll probably land around 11.
He sighed; finally getting some answers put his nervous soul at ease. Max had been on his own in California since he was eighteen and had graduated. He moved over from New York as he gotten a contract with nickelodeon. Ever since, he’s been residing in L.A. It’s been two years since he’s been back to New York, for his busy conflicting schedule took over his life. Though, now things were finally settling down and he was getting a pretty clear schedule again.
Having just gotten out of school for winter break, he invited his younger sister (almost two years his junior) to come out and visit him. He set up the flight, made sure she was on a good airline, paid for her tickets, and now he was just waiting on her arrival. However, things hadn’t gone quite as planned. He had made sure to tell the flights that she was an unaccompanied minor for she wasn’t quite eighteen yet. Though, when she went through security, they had messed up her information so she was stuck in New York for an extra two hours.
Then, her only layover in Chicago had gone terrible; for there was no service in the airport and that’s when she was suppose to give Max a call. As she boarded the airplane, the stewardess pulled her to the side and handed her the phone to talk to an anxious Max who called to check up on his sister. As the plane was flying, there was some turbulence that was abnormal for a bird was caught in the propeller. There was a storm that was brewing, so the plane had to take a “quick,” landing to remove the bird and wait for the storm to pass by.
For nearly the entire day, Tiffany had been waiting in airports, or shifting in uncomfortable airplane seats. Her iPod was near its death, even though she had fully charged it the night before. She shut her eyes for what seemed to be five seconds, only for them to be jolted open again at the feeling of shaking. The plane ran across the runway, and she realized that they were finally landing. She turned her phone on, and the brightness of it blinded her eyes, so she put it in her pocket, waiting until it fully loaded. “Damn smartphones.” She thought.
She exited the plane, removing her carry on as she went down the long hall that would lead to the gate. She pulled out her phone to the single vibration that signaled the phone was completely on and ready for use. Tiffany was ready to text Max, letting her know where she was, but stopped when she heard a semi-familiar voice call out her name. She pivoted on her toes, looking around to see who was calling her, and a smile crept upon her face as she met the brown eyes she grew up with.
They did the cliché movie style ‘run and jump into each other’s arms, and whichever one is the strongest, swings the other person in a circle until they get dizzy.’ He gently placed her on her feet but he hadn’t released her from his death grip. He squeezed her tightly as she fought for air to breathe. A tiny part of him knew he was suffocating her, but he couldn’t help it. He hadn’t seen his baby sister in two years, she had grown, a lot.
“Jesus….Max…” She breathed out in between gasps of breath. “You…trying… to.. kill.. me?” She asked as her breathing slowly evened out again.
He gave her a cheshire smile. “Sorry.” He muttered, putting his arm around her as he grabbed her bag with his other hand and led her in the direction of the parking lot. “Geez pup, you’re so tall.” He noted. She hadn’t grown very tall for she had reached her peak, but before he left, she hadn’t even hit her growth spurt yet, so the last time he had seen her, she was a mere 4’10”. But over the past two years, she’s grown seven inches, totaling to 5’4”. She seemed short, compared to her brother who stood a little over six feet.
“Growth spurt.” She smiled up at him. “It was a pain though.” She frowned, remembering how she had to miss a few days of school due to her growing pains, and on top of that she had shin splints.
“Aw, was something wrong?” He asked, a bit concerned for his baby sister. He hoped they hadn’t found anything in her body. He remembered all the tests at that age, for it was when his body was aging the quickest.
“No,” she shook her head, a small smile to reassure him she was fine. “Growing pains.” He nodded and gave her shoulder a squeeze. A small gesture as if to say, ‘I felt your pain.’ It must’ve been in the Schneider bloodline to have growing pains, because their father remembered when he was going through puberty. His ankles would swell and he’d have pains throughout his legs.
“I missed you.” He confessed as they stepped outside in the rain. She leaned against him, partly because she missed him, and because she was using him to shelter her from the wet drops of rain.
“Missed you too.” She hugged him slightly as they picked up their pace. Their silence was soothing, and it seemed it had been ages since the pair has seen each other.
They reached his small four door Honda and he turned the heat on for his tiny sister, then handed her a towel to dry off. “So…. Nice weather we’re having…” He said awkwardly, though it only caused them to laugh aloud. There wasn’t much that was awkward between the two. Well… except when their father sat them both down, when Max was eighteen, and she was sixteen, for “the talk.” The two were sitting there, staring with wide eyes as their father made them view graphic diagrams and slip condoms onto bananas.
“Wanna hear a song I’m working on?” He asked, looking over at his sister who had her legs crossed in the seat. She gave him a slight nod, letting him know he had her approval. He connected his iPod to the outlet in his car and turned the sound up on the radio. She listened to the reality in his lyrics and shut her eyes as she paid close attention to it, because she knew after the song ended he would ask her thoughts about it.
The instrumental faded out, signaling the song’s completion. When she opened her eyes, she saw her brother with one hand on the wheel and his eyes were focused on the road. Surprisingly enough, she had expected many people to be out at night, since L.A. is a big city and all, but she only took notice of a few cars.
“What’d you think?” He asked, wanting to know his sister’s opinions on things. Something they’ve always done since they were younger, gotten each other’s consult.
He was a great singer, but his sister had the golden ear. “I liked it, could be a little faster, but it’s great, the lyrics, I like the piano in the back.”
Max smiled, “That’s Kurt.”
“Oh, the amazing long lost brother I’ve got to meet right?” Though they couldn’t see each other in person, they managed to keep in touch through texts and social networking sites.
“Oh yeah! We can go see him tomorrow, you’ll love him.” She was sure she would, I mean, if Max liked him, she would too. She usually liked everyone he did, with the exceptions of girlfriends. She was never too fond with girls around her brother. You’d think she was the older sibling with the way she was so protective over him.
“I’m tired.” She whined, shutting her eyes. With his free hand, he reached over and clutched her hand, just to ease her. He knew that she was a grouch when she was tired; it was like they were children all over again. She was the tiny infant who needed her brother to comfort her.
“We’ll be home soon, I kinda didn’t set up the guest room yet, but you can crash in my room.” He gave her a guilty smile. He had been worrying about her whereabouts all day, and instead of putting together the guest room like he said he would do, he practically paced a hole into the rug.
“Bleh.” She stuck her tongue out, poorly pretending like she was dead. It caused Max to chuckle.
He finally pulled up to his apartment complex and parked the car in the garage. He took her duffle bag and slung it over his shoulder as he went over to his sleeping sister. He knew he could carry her, but because he had the duffle, he didn’t want to push his luck, and possibly drop her.
“Wakey, wakey.” He poked and prodded at her, when she only groaned and shifted a bit, he thought, ‘poor thing. She must be really worked out.’ He shook her a bit and her eyes fluttered open, revealing her emerald orbs, inherited from their maternal side.
She took a deep breath before composing herself and realizing that they were at their destination. “Let’s go.” He held his hand out for her to take, and he guided her out of the car. She walked slightly ahead of Max – he made her so that he could keep an eye on her. When they got to his apartment, he opened and put her duffle near the couch in his living room. “It’s small, but it works.” He said as she looked around. It was smaller than their house in New York, but it was perfect size for someone living solo.
She was a bit more awake by now. The rain had eased up a couple of minutes into their drive away from the airport. “Can I take a shower?” Max nodded and flicked his head in the direction of the bathroom.
“I already got your brands.” He had texted her last week and asked if she needed any necessities while he was at the store so she wouldn’t have to go around smelling like a man.
“Thanks.” She leaned down to hug him and then in one swift movement, her duffle was hanging off her shoulder and she headed into the bathroom.
Tiffany cleansed her body of the ick she had built up from hopping states and switching planes. She cleaned her hair of the nasty germs she picked up from sitting in a seat that millions of other people have probably sat in too. She exfoliated her pores and then deemed her shower done. She stepped out and used Max’s hair dryer so that her hair was only less than semi-wet. She changed into her pajamas; a faded cornflower blue superman shirt, and black pajama pants. She tucked her phone into the waistband of her shorts, and brushed the tangles from her hair. She brushed her teeth, and flossed (though she hadn’t eaten much.)
“Took long enough princess.” Max teasingly said.
She stuck her tongue out and sat beside him on the couch. He wrapped an arm around her. He kissed the top of her head before his nose was assaulted with a familiar scent. “…Did you use my shampoo?” He asked, taking a whiff of her hair.
Her eyebrows furrowed. “I don’t remember….” She frowned. She hope she hadn’t, she didn’t want to smell like her brother, though she did enjoy the scent.
He laughed boisterously, “We should get you to bed.” She was obviously way too tired, and he was just looking out for her well being. He was lenient about rules with his sister, because he remembered what it was like to be a teenager, but his parents would kill him if their daughter didn’t return in one piece. As far as they were concern, when Max had asked to bring her over, they were putting Tiffany in his care.
Max slipped an arm under the backside of her knees and the other lifted her up, she burst out in fits of giggles as he threw her up in the air. “You better not drop me.” She complained, and he picked up the hints of tiredness in her voice.
“What if I do?” He dropped her several inches causing her to squeal.
“Max!” She clung on to him for dear life, though a part of her knew he would never drop her.
“I’m kidding, pup.” Their parents’ referred to them as a pack of wolves when they were younger, so she was nicknamed pup, being that she was his junior.
“You’re mean.” She whined into his chest, and he gave her a hug before placing her gently on his bed. She climbed under the covers as he took off his t-shirt and put it on his dresser. He went into his closet to change into some sweatpants. Normally he’d sleep in his boxers, but it was a cold night. She used to sleep with him when she was younger and had nightmares, so she didn’t really mind if he slept in boxers or not. He wasn’t some crush she had, he was her brother.
“Loooooove you snooookums.” He climbed into the bed, putting her in a headlock and rolling around in the bed. Their maturity always seemed to plummet when they were together. They were wrestling, when she gave out a yawn and they settled down. She turned in the bed so that she was looking out the window. Outside Max’s window were a streetlight, and a few trees. She turned back the other way, hiding her head in the pillow to avoid the shadows. Ever since she was young and had watched “Chuckie,” with Max, she grew an immense fear of shadows and the dark. What are even worse are shadows that move. Max picked up what she was doing and closed the blinds, though it was windy so they blew about creating some shadows with noises of rustling.
She buried her face into his fluffy, cold pillow and so as he climbed back into bed, he put a protective arm around her, and immediately the nerves shooting up and down her body ceased and the goosebumps faded away. He ran his fingers through the end of her hair as it fanned out across the pillow. He threw his heavy comforter over her, making sure she was tucked in tightly. “G’night Tiffany.” He said as he breathed steadily.
“’night Maxie.” She muttered into the pillow, sleep was slowly beginning to steal her in.
Her heavy eye lids shut and she yawned. “Don’t let the alligators bite.” She said tiredly. It was an inside joke they had formed when they used to watch the Steve Irwin on Animal Planet before bed.
“Never, ever crocodile.” He sighed as he slowly let himself slip into the abyss of sleep. It was nice to have his sister’s presence.