sheep in wolf's clothing
32 years old
"I've been sleeping with someone else."
Annie's mouth fell open as she stared at her prettier, more successful, lucky sister.
"You -- " she began, flabbergasted. "You what?" Her mind spun and she felt her grip becoming tight on the kitchen counter. She tried not to sound too accusatory, but how could she not?? Her sister was cheating on one of the nicest guys in the world!
"How could you do that to Glyn?" she asked. "He's in love with you! He practically worships the ground you walk on!" She returned to chopping the potatoes she was dicing for her famous baked potato soup, not that she had any appetite for it now, and her knife made angry slices through the vegetable with surprising force.
"I know," Bridget replied as she stepped down off her stool. "But that's just it, isn't it? He acts like I'm some kind of angel. Sometimes, I don't even really think he's seeing me for me, just the fantasy he's created of me."
Annie chopped her potato again, a little too fiercely, while a bitter laugh escaped her lips. "Yeah, that must be horrible, to be loved more than you really deserve." Though her potato was barely chopped up, uneven and blocky, she stopped what she was doing and set her hand on her hip. "You know, I never would have expected something like this from you, Bridge."
At last, her sister's shame seemed to fall through. "Hey!" she said defensively. "It hasn't exactly been easy, you know. Glyn's..." She trailed off, before glancing at the breakfast bar and then back up at her sister. "He's really going through some things."
The younger woman scoffed. "That's your excuse? He lost his job! What do you expect? I mean, I know little miss perfect doesn't know what that's like, but trust me, it's not exactly easy to watch your career slip through your fingers."
"And what would you know about having a career?" Bridget snapped back. At Annie's shocked and hurt expression, she immediately backed down and put her hands up in a submissive expression. "Okay, okay, I'm sorry. I didn't mean that." She sighed and looked her sister in the eyes.
"It's just not the same," she admitted. "He's drinking, and he stays out all night with his friends playing poker and doing God knows what else. I mean, for all I know he's sleeping around, too!" Annie folded her arms and gave her sister a severe look, and Bridget scrunched up her face. She put her head in her hands and her elbows on the counter, as she gave a loud sigh.
"I know!" she agreed at once. "I know. He isn't. He would never do what I'm doing." She dropped her hands and took a deep breath. She pursed her lips and then left them in a pout. "I'm a horrible person."
Annie nodded once but then remembered herself and stopped the gesture. She tried to give her sister a sympathetic look, but it only came out stern instead.
"You have to tell him."
Bridget sighed. "I know." She looked down at her folded hands beneath her and folded her thumbnails into each other, before she looked up at her sister again. "I'm leaving him."
The world seemed to spin again, to Annie. She didn't know what to think or what to say, and couldn't deny the part of her that leaped up at the announcement from her sister, though what she ought to have been feeling was sympathy for the poor man whose world was about to come crashing down. She grabbed the hair at the back of her head in a characteristic gesture of mixed feelings.
"Are you sure?"
Bridget looked down at the counter for a moment more and then slowly began to nod. "Yeah," she said as she looked up again. "I tried to stick it out. I did." She shrugged her shoulders high. "I love him." But then she let her shoulders and face fall again. "But he and I want different things. We always have. And this whole... thing... that he's going through, it just brings it all to a head."
She looked down at her hands for a moment longer, while Annie watched, and then she sprung the final piece of news on her. "The guy I'm seeing, he wants to get married. Not - not right away. I mean, he's not exactly free either, and we want to be respectful of Glyn and of his girlfriend. We need to make sure this will work if we're not both avoiding some other life. But... if you have the choice between something that seems absolutely crazy but it's headed in the direction you always wanted, and something that seems right but it's totally wrong for you... don't you have to go for what you really want?"
"Oh, Bridget." Annie hated to soften her heart to her sister in a moment like this. She hated this for Glyn, but when her sister put it like that, what what she supposed to feel? They both deserved to be happy. She approached her sister and wrapped her up in a hug, and she rubbed her back consolingly. "Of course you do," she advised, and she hoped rather than knew that the advice was impartial. She backed up and gave her sister a bracing smile, while they held each other's forearms.
"Annie?" Bridge began next. "Will you look out for him?" The younger sister's face shifted and she glanced down at the floor, but the elder continued. "It's just -- you two have always got along, you know? And aside from his brother, who really can't be counted on, and his psycho father, he doesn't have anyone. And you're so good with people. I just thought, maybe, if you could check in on him, make sure he isn't doing anything..." She trailed off and then gave her sister a significant look.
"Maybe if he's got you he won't hate me so much."
Annie swallowed back the taste of guilt as she nodded her head and shrugged her shoulders. "Yeah, yeah! Of course. I'll -- I'll keep an eye on him." She smiled, and Bridget returned the expression, before collecting her sister in another hug. Behind her sister's back Annie looked at the ceiling as if sending a silent prayer for forgiveness, and then she squeezed her eyes shut tight.
Bridget sniffled as she pulled away again a moment later. "Smells like something's burning, maybe?"
"Oh, shit." Annie rushed over to the stove and her shoulders fell. She stirred the onions and bacon that were completely burnt to the bottom of the pot, and then flung the spatula onto the counter. "Pizza it is then."
Bridget smiled fondly at her sister's back. "I ordered one on the way over."
Her sister turned around sheepishly and then laughed at her own mess. How she was supposed to take care of a heartbroken man when she couldn't even manage dinner was anyone's guess.