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“You can’t really tell when you first look at him”, Michael said. “In fact, when we’ve gone out in the past, girls have actually flirted with him, but then they soon realize he’s different”.
Michael was telling his university friends about his younger brother, Emil, since the gang was going to be staying at his parents’ home, an old Tudor-style house situated upstate, miles away from the university they all attended.
Mike’s folks were plenty glad he had decided to attend a college not too far away, so that he could come home often, for example, during various weekends and holidays. This Thanksgiving, he would bring some friends over that his parents hadn’t met yet, most of whom he had casually mentioned but had never actually invited up.
Mr. and Mrs. Beauchamp were glad to be meeting these young people Michael had been telling them about. They hoped these friends had been keeping their son from being homesick while away at school all these years.
For some odd reason, Lara’s interest was piqued immediately when she found out about Emil. Secretly, she had been quite anxiously hoping to meet him during this visit to Michael’s parents.
Except for Michael, the rest of the gang hailed from different parts of the country, and all planned on flying home to be with their families for Christmas and New Years. But for the time being, they all decided to stay up north to follow Michael home to his parents’ house for Turkey Day.
The gang had all packed into the SUV Michael had been driving since freshman year. The hefty vehicle was a sweet graduation present his parents surprised him with right after the ceremony. They were so proud of him for having been accepted into a good school, and doing well his senior year, that they reckoned a nice car was the least they could manage as a reward for all his hard work.
Michael was a Political Science major, who planned on applying to law school afterwards and eventually becoming an attorney for the people. Jeff and Karen had similar educational and career trajectories planned for themselves. Lara, on the other hand, was Sociology, and vowed to become the most compassionate social worker New York had ever seen; she would right all the wrongs of society. Finally, Ben, the oldest of the bunch, was a double major, Political Science and Sociology, not able to make up his mind between the two. All were in their junior year at the university, except for Ben, who was already a senior, seemingly racking up the most units on a college campus this side of the Ohio River, or in the Northeast, at least.
In short, the “Gang of Five” was planning to take life by the balls and save the world!
Having classes in the same handful of buildings on campus, and hanging out at the same Student Union and Café areas, all five friends were well acquainted with one another, Michael and Karen going back the furthest. In fact, it was hard for each of the “Gang of Five” to not constantly run into each other on South Campus, the part of the university where most of the liberal arts majors hung out. Even off campus, in the village where most of them lived in cramped apartments, they frequented the same bars, coffee houses, and pool halls. It was therefore nearly impossible for them to avoid each other, even if they wanted to.
Lara had to admit that her friend of a little less than two years, Michael, was pretty easy on the eyes. He was typical of her type, what with her penchant for tall guys with gorgeous eyes and killer smiles. It didn’t hurt that he was also very friendly and easy-going.
However, after secretly crushing on Michael for a while, Lara had recently gotten the impression he had “designs” on the group’s other female, Karen. Karen looked like one of those lanky supermodels hawking luxury products in European fashion magazines; the ones lining the newsstand shelves in the village. Consequently, Lara kept her crush on Michael a well-guarded secret and just enjoyed being with him, along with the rest of their lively group.
Lara didn’t know when or where her fascination with “special” people originated, only that as long as she could remember, her interactions with “special needs” folks were always pleasant and heartwarming. In fact, while she was in high school, Lara was a volunteer at a place called, “Activities for Retarded Children” (ARC). On more than one occasion, the teenage boys who were members of the organization had crushes on her and never hid their affections from plain sight. They were so open and honest, Lara recalled, that she always found them endearing in a sweet way. Up until now, she hadn’t considered dating one.
Actually, it was when Lara was wearing one of her “ARC” T-shirts from her volunteer days, that Michael first casually mentioned that he himself had a “special needs” brother. As Emil was only two years younger than him, Michael pointed out to Lara, he only ever remembered having a “special needs” sibling his whole life, and that it was a normal part of growing up; to help Emil, to stand bursa escort up for and protect him, and basically be a good big brother to him. Michael was never ashamed of his little brother. Rather, he held special affection for him, and now that Emil was at the age of young adulthood, Michael now started thinking about his baby brother’s future and who would eventually take care of him.
Although the Beauchamps were a fairly well-to-do family, and Kate had been a stay-at-home mom, her first priority always being her boys, she knew she and her husband were getting on in years. They were parents of two boys who had now grown into two young men. Recently, Dad himself had been advised by his doctor to revise his diet, as he was slightly overweight, didn’t exercise, and usually worked long hours at what could be considered a stressful job. At the visit to his doctor, Mr. Beauchamp was, for the first time in his life, forced to consider his own immortality and what might happen if he fell ill one day and could no longer take care of his family.
Michael himself thought, “In about fifteen years or so, Mom and Dad would be senior citizens, perhaps needing special care themselves. What, then, would become of Emil, who had always been cared for by Mom? And perhaps in a few years, not too far away, Michael himself would be starting a family of his own; and then he would be that less able to take care of his brother.”
Granted, that day that Emil’s well-being would be of serious concern was probably quite some time away, but it was always on the back of the minds of Mom, Dad, and Michael.
Mom, especially, constantly felt responsible for her younger son’s well-being, but for a different reason altogether.
From the beginning, Mrs. Beauchamp felt responsible for Emil being born “different”. She ran the scenario of his birth over and over in her head: if she had not insisted on natural childbirth, and if she and the baby had not been in distress for so long, and if the baby’s brain hadn’t been deprived of precious oxygen for so long, then perhaps he would have turned out as “normal” as his older brother.
That first evening at the Beauchamps, the gang was already well settled into their temporary lodgings, and so they now found themselves in the large family room watching an action flick the boys had picked out on Netflix. They had already finished their dinner (Domino’s pizza, chicken wings, and bread sticks), and were now drinking beer and soda in front of the TV.
About fifteen minutes into the movie, Lara heard voices faintly coming from the kitchen down the hall. It sounded like Michael’s mother and another male, which she had a feeling wasn’t the father. Lara was hoping it would be Emil, because she was dying to see what he looked like, and if he bore any resemblance to his handsome older brother.
Lara thought fast.
“I’d like another soda, Mike. I think I’ll go to the kitchen and get me one”, she spoke up, during an especially loud explosion scene of the movie.
“I’ll get it for you, Lara”, Michael graciously offered his house guest.
“No, I know where it is. I saw your mom taking it out of the fridge earlier. And anyway, I don’t want you to miss out on any good scenes”, she replied, already rising up to her feet, and swiftly walking out of the den. The rest of the gang’s eyes were glued to the huge flat screen TV.
Lara anxiously walked towards the kitchen, where she saw Mrs. Beauchamp and a young man resembling Michael, only slightly paler and thinner and in build. Stepping in further to get a closer look, Lara feasted her eyes on the young man standing next to Mike’s mom.
Like his older brother, Emil had blue-green eyes, which many have remarked resembled a vast ocean worthy of drowning in. Emil was tall when he stood up straight, and his body was lean, similar to his brother’s, except Michael was a bit more muscular from playing sports. In addition, not spending much time outdoors, Emil was considerably paler in complexion. Michael, on the other hand, besides playing outdoor sports, also liked to hike and go biking, when his busy schedule allowed it; consequently, he sported a healthy tan. Next, through the insistence of their mother while growing up, both brothers’ teeth were white and well-cared-for, so both had amazing smiles. All that being said, aside from the slight differences due to their lifestyles, Michael and Emil did indeed look like brothers close in age. They even had the same musky bodily scent, which Lara quickly noticed and secretly enjoyed.
Maybe in the back of her mind, Lara thought that being with Michael’s younger brother would be a good simulation of actually being with Michael. After all, the two boys outwardly looked alike. But personality-wise, Emil was much quieter and sweeter than his brother.
“Be careful, dear, don’t drop that”, Mrs. Beauchamp gently cautioned her youngest son.
“I won’t”, Emil responded in a serious manner, as he concentrated on carrying a tall glass of milk out of the bursa escort bayan kitchen to head upstairs. Suddenly, he noticed a stranger stepping into the room.
“Mrs. Beauchamp. Hi again. I’m just looking for some Sprite to refill my glass”, Lara indicated to the older lady who always seemed to have a warm friendly smile on her face.
“Oh honey, sure, no problem, here, I’ll get it for you…let’s see… Oh gosh, it looks like we’ve run out. I’ll go to the garage and open up a new case…be right back.”
Lara and Emil looked at each other for the first time, there in the huge shiny kitchen equipped with stainless steel appliances, wide cabinets with glass doors, and big granite counter tops. At that instant, Emil had the look of a child eyeing a new toy his parents just surprised him with Christmas morning. He was quietly observing the toy at first, wondering how to play with it. Lara, on the other hand, had the look of a kid who had just stepped into the biggest candy store she had ever seen.
“Emil. Hi. I’m Lara”, she offered her hand out to him with a friendly smile.
“How’d you know my name?” he asked, confused that this female stranger would know anything about him.
“Well, I’m one of your brother’s friends, and he’s talked about you before”, she explained, still with a nice smile on her face.
“Oh”, he mustered.
“Nice to meet you, Emil”, Lara continued, still extending her hand out, as she was determined to make the acquaintance of this handsome young man, and let him know she meant him no harm. On the contrary, she intended for them to be good friends. Just then, with a cool gush of wind, Mrs. Beauchamp rushed back into the kitchen.
“Here you go”, Mrs. Beauchamp declared, returning from the garage with a big heavy case of canned soda. She quickly opened the package and offered a Sprite to Lara.
“Thank you, ma’am”, Lara replied politely.
“Oh honey, you can call me Kate. ‘Ma’am’ makes me feel so old, you know”, she retorted with a chuckle.
“Thanks, Kate.” With that, Lara pivoted to walk out of the kitchen to rejoin her friends, when suddenly, she paused, looked over at the young man she just met, and added, “Bye, Emil. It was nice to have met you.”
“Bye”, Emil replied quietly, with the same look of wonder that showed on his face a few minutes earlier. In his head, he was still trying to figure out how to play with the new toy.
Lara walked back into the family/viewing room, and just as she sat back down on the big L-shaped leather couch, she heard another huge explosion from the TV, apparently the crash of a handful of cars ramming into each other at full speed.
“What’d I miss?” she asked quietly, while re-situating herself to get comfortable.
“Oh, nothing much” spoke up Karen, the only other female in the room. “Just a few thousand racing machine crashes and a few visits to the hospital” she added with an ironically straight face. She then leaned over to Lara. “What took you so long to get some soda, by the way?” she was almost whispering.
“Oh, they ran out and had to get some more from the garage. And I met Mike’s brother, finally. He’s really nice.”
“Oh, you ran into Emil? He’s sweet, isn’t he?” answered Karen, still in a hushed tone, while the boys were intently watching an especially exciting car racing scene.
“You’ve met him? Yeah he IS very sweet, and looks a lot like Mike”, Lara added.
“Yeah, they definitely look like they’re from the same family. I think they look more like their dad than their mom, don’t you?” Karen asked.
“Uh, I don’t know; I guess. I’ve only just met the whole family this week. Besides, it’s kind of hard to tell, with the dad’s gray hair and beard, the extra meat on his bones, and those thick coke bottle glasses.” Lara indicated.
“Yeah, I suppose”, Karen responded, going back to the action-packed movie, jam packed with testosterone. Right after, however, she let out a long yawn.
In their huge dining room, the Beauchamps toasted to Mike and his university friends. “Here’s to the Gang of Five and their bright future, Mike…uh…Jeff, Ben, uh…Karen, and Laura”, Mrs. Beauchamp managed, holding up her glass and winking at the young people lining either side of the long table. The carved turkey and fixings rested at the center of it all.
Mr. and Mrs. Beauchamp were seated at each end, the two heads of the table for the evening.
“Her name’s Lara”, Emil corrected his mom. He was sitting close by to her right.
“Oh, yes, excuse me, Lara”, Mrs. Beauchamp said intently, making sure she managed the correct pronunciation of the girl’s name.
“It’s okay ma’am…I mean, uh, Kate”, Lara correct herself as well.
“Well, let’s now count our blessings and enjoy this beautiful feast Mom has cooked up”, tooted Mr. Beauchamp, smiling at the fresh-faced youngsters visiting their family for the holiday. He then winked at his wife across the table.
“Thank you, Emil”, replied his wife, as she gave him a warm, escort bursa loving look.
Lara blinked twice. Barely able to get over the fact that Michael’s younger brother had remembered her name so well, Lara had also just found out that Emil was named after his father.
“Oh, Mr. Beauchamp, Emil’s named after you?” Lara inquired with curiosity.
“Yes”, Mr. Beauchamp replied, “and Mike’s named after Kate’s father, Michel.”
“Michelle?” Lara asked confusingly.
“Michael in French is Michel, pronounced somewhat similar to the feminine, Michelle.”
“Oh, I didn’t know that. And I have to admit, I’ve only ever heard the name, Emil, once or twice in my life.” Lara added.
“Well, Emil is more common a name in France, in Europe, as a matter of fact. The name also exists in Germany and Scandinavia, but it’s not as common these days”, Kate added.
“Yeah, Mike has mentioned before that both your families are from Quebec”, Karen spoke up, eager to point out.
“Yes, but both my husband and I were born here in New York”, Mrs. Beauchamp answered.
Jeff, the joker of the group, suddenly felt the need to chime in. “Yeah, I get a totally American vibe from you guys. I mean, you’re not going around singing, ‘Vive la France…'”, he said with the most exaggerated French accent possible, along with the straightest poker face he could muster.
Everyone laughed, after which Lara looked up to her left to find Emil, Jr. staring at her again, with the same look of bewilderment he had when they first met in the kitchen.
The family’s big Tudor house boasted four ample-sized bedrooms, three of which were upstairs, and one downstairs, where Mr. and Mrs. Beauchamp slept. So Michael’s old bedroom before he moved out to attend college was taken by Jeff and Ben, claiming the top and bottom of his old bunk bed. Michael himself would be rooming with his brother, in Emil’s own bedroom. Lastly, the two girls would share the guest room down the hall.
“Lara sure is nice”, Emil confided to his brother when they were both comfortably settled in his room, finally able to rest after the heavy dinner and the long TV-watching session earlier in the evening. The two young men were now minutes away from falling asleep the second and final night of the group’s stay. Emil was in his own bed, while Michael was on the floor close by, snuggling himself into an old sleeping bag from his camping days.
“Yeah, Lara is nice. She’s a great friend”, Michael responded thoughtfully to his younger brother. “I’m glad you like her”, he added.
“I sure do”, responded Emil, after which he quickly drifted off.
Michael stayed awake for a few minutes still, wondering if his brother had a crush on his female college friend, whom he himself never thought of in romantic terms. Michael actually thought it was cute that his baby bro was crushing on a girl.
At that point, Michael wondered if Emil had ever liked a girl before Lara. He began to search his mind, back to their earlier years, when he felt closest to his brother, emotionally as well as physically. Back then, the two brothers slept in bedrooms right next to each other, before Michael left for college. One time, he recalled, in his senior year of high school, Mom asked him to take Emil’s newly folded laundry up to his room, and put the clothes in the right drawers. While he was placing his brother’s garments in the appropriate compartments, Michael inadvertently found a dirty magazine under some boxer shorts. He guessed Emil had swiped it from Dad’s hidden stash in the cabinet under the sink of the downstairs bathroom. Dad’s magazines had been strategically placed in the “blind spot” corner of the sink’s bottom cabinet, under some terry cloth towels. In fact, Michael thought he might have “used” one of those publications before, himself.
Another time, during one of his visits home, during freshman year of college, Michael remembered walking in on Emil “touching himself” downstairs in the family room, apparently watching a provocative movie he had found on Netflix. Michael recalled it was pretty late that one night, and that their parents had already gone to sleep.
Lying there on the floor of his brother’s room, Michael smiled to himself, “Well what do you know? My baby brother’s got the “hots” for a real-life breathing female.”
That crisp morning, there was no precipitation to be seen for miles, even though the air seemed ripe for snow. Leaves had still been falling from the numerous trees surrounding the Beauchamp’s huge house.
Luckily, the college students would be able to take advantage of clear weather for the duration of their drive back to school. The young men were all muscles that morning, lugging and heaving the bags belonging to the entire group, getting ready to leave the cozy house they had been calling home for the last few days; and going back to settle into university life again; that is, for a few weeks, until Christmas break started up.
Emil had gotten himself up unusually early that morning, and rushed out of his room to see what all the noise and commotion were about downstairs. He soon discovered his parents getting ready to bid farewell to Mike and all his friends, including Lara.
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