Get Along

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Saturdays have always
been a special time for our family.
As very devout Buddhists,
my parents attend their temple
on Saturday afternoons,
and then we spend time
as a family
both that evening and
into Sunday.
My brother usually
accompanies them
to temple, seeing as he
seems to accept their beliefs.
I don't know how long
that will last, though;
while Thias does agree with
a lot of the same things
that our parents do,
after years of going
to that temple and meditating -
or whatever it is they do -
he's told me that it just
doesn't feel right for him.
I think he'll go off
on his own path
once he starts college.

Euni, Eddie and I,
however,
don't ever go with.
Eddie, for one,
is too young to decide
whether or not he wants
to embrace our parents' religion -
at least, he is
in their opinion.
They want to wait until
he's a little older
to introduce it to him
so he can make an
informed decision.
I've personally gone only
once or twice
when I was younger;
I vaguely remember
how quiet it was inside,
and the larger-than-life statue
of Buddha himself.
As a little kid,
it seemed monolithic
and intimidating.
No wonder I hadn't
wanted to go back.

But Euni's experiences
have been a little different.
Somewhere along the way,
she's come to reject
religion as a whole,
our parents' included,
and she's not afraid to
express that.
She's the only publicly expressed
atheist in our household,
much to our parents' chagrin.
I think there's something
in Buddhism that says
that you shouldn't try and push
your beliefs on other people,
but my mom must have decided
to ignore that, because
there's not a week that passes
that she won't ask Euni -
beg her, practically -
to come with them
just one time
to see if she'll make
a different decision.

And then, as a result,
we have encounters like
the one currently playing out
in the kitchen.
So much for Saturdays
being special.

I'm sitting on my bed
just down the hall,
and the door to the room
Euni and I share
is closed, but
I can hear
every word they say in
perfect detail
through the thin walls.
As usual, Eunice is
ranting and raving about
the hypocrisy of modern-day religion,
and how she has enough
to worry about without
'having to sit around
praying to the statue of
some old, dead guy.'
My mother's voice
rises up next,
outraged by her
obvious disrespect.

My mother is really very
tolerant of all religions,
even if she doesn't exactly
believe in the same tenets
that they all teach, but
one thing that she
absolutely can't stand
is blatant disrespect
towards any religion, especially hers,
such as what Euni constantly
dishes out.
'You have no right
to judge anything based on
false assumptions,'
as she says.

But Eunice doesn't seem
to care.
She's happy enough to
throw her opinions
in our parents' faces
every week,
to the point where they will just
walk out on her
to avoid anything more drastic
than just shouted arguments.
I've learned to just
stay out of the way
during this part of our Saturdays,
because the one time I
tried to mediate and
quiet them down,
my mother started yelling
at me, too.
It had probably been
more of an accident than anything,
considering how she gets
when she's upset or angry,
but I've stayed away
ever since.
There's nothing I've found
that's scarier than my mom
when she's mad.

So I sit on my bed,
waiting for the shouting
to die down so that I
can go and heat up
some leftovers for my dinner.
My fingers find the edges
of one of the worn blankets
slumped beside me,
and idly pick at a frayed string
as I stare at the wall
that I know separates me
from the kitchen beyond.

All of a sudden,
my door creaks open,
and I find myself staring at
the little dark-skinned boy
who had just crept through it.
He shuts it carefully
before turning to cross the room
and jumping up on
my bed beside me.

"Will they be
done soon, Tilly?"
he soon asks,
no higher than a whisper,
leaning his head against
my shoulder.
Sitting, he's nearly
the same height as me.
He's been growing a lot lately,
and I won't be surprised if
he gets to be taller than me
by the time he starts middle school.
It won't take much;
I'm not very tall,
anyway.

"I hope so,"
I tell him,
hugging him to my side
with one arm.
"Mom and Dad and Thias
will be late if they
waste any more time.
And you know how
they hate being late."

Sure enough, we hear
the front door slam shut
just a few moments later.
Somewhere in the distance,
Euni futilely tries to swear
under her breath,
but it ends up being
loud enough for both of us
to make out.
I put my hands
over Eddie's ears
until she's done.

"Why do they always
yell at each other
on Saturdays?"
he asks me next,
pulling away to
look me in the eye.
"Why can't they just
get along?"

I've been wondering
the same thing.
Why can't Eunice just
keep her mouth shut
if she doesn't agree with our parents?
Why do they always
have to start a war
over their differences?
"Because they don't
want to,"
I tell my brother
at last.
"They both think
that they're right,
and neither of them will
ever give up."

"That doesn't seem
right at all,"
he grumbles,
burying his head in
my side once again.
I can't help but agree.

"That's just how
people are."
With a sigh, I
push myself off my bed,
pulling Eddie along with me.
"Fighting over our differences
is all we can do
to solve them,
I guess.
Now, c'mon -
let's go get some dinner.
I'm sure you must be
starving by now."

And, reluctantly nodding,
he follows along behind me
as I head off towards
my family members'
former battleground,
silently wishing that
we could all just
get along,
like he'd said.

×

A bit of a change in pace here - some of you guys who read Misalignment might remember Matty talking about this sort of thing to Cam once or twice. Her happy little family isn't always so happy after all, huh? Poor Eddie has no idea what's going on, though. He doesn't deserve to have to deal with this.

If you guys liked this chapter, I'd love if you would vote and leave me some feedback! I would very much appreciate it c:

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