A brother and sister practice role-playing
WHEN I GOT MY NEW JOB at an ad agency early last year, I rented a nice two-bedroom apartment in a suburban neighborhood about a 20-minute bus ride from the center of town. It was during the pandemic, so I set up my second bedroom as an office, since my work office was pretty much shut down and we all met by phone calls and Zoom conferences. Since then, the office has opened up again, but it is still letting people work at home a couple of days a week. So my usual schedule has been to go into the office two or three days a week and work from home the rest of the time. It’s a pretty nice balance, and I enjoy having time to hang out with the other people I work with.
About a month ago my sister, Ellie, got in touch with me to tell me she had just gotten a job in my city. Ellie was just over a year older than me, and had been working as a paralegal. Her new job would give her a chance to do specialized work in commercial real estate, and would pay a lot better. She asked if I had any recommendations about places to live.
I told her she could stay with me for a while and not have to rush into finding a place until she knew more about what she wanted. She was delighted and said she would take me up on it, and was happy it would give us a chance to hang out with each other again.
I emptied the office stuff out of the second bedroom. Since I was only working from home part-time, I was able to set up a desk in my bedroom and arrange a Zoom set-up in my living room where the background would look nicer.
* * *
Ellie arrived Friday at noon. When I opened the door, she gave me a big hug. “Brandon, you’re looking wonderful! It’s so great to see you! We haven’t had a chance to really hang out and talk in a long time.”
We hadn’t seen that much of each other since high school. Pretty much Christmas break and the occasional Thanksgiving dinner. We both tended to get jobs over the summer so we weren’t hanging out at home.
Ellie was looking stunning, as usual. She was slim and had a sense of athletic presence, and guys’ heads would swivel to watch her as she walked down the street. Her hair was what I guess they would call “dirty blonde,” much lighter than my dark brown hair. We shared some similarities in looks — we’re both on the tall side and we both have blue eyes. At the same time, if we were out doing things together, people wouldn’t automatically think brother and sister.
She hadn’t brought all that much with her at this point. She still had a lot of stuff at our parents’ house, but for now, she would just need clothes and her laptop and stuff until she figured out what she wanted to do next.
“Brandon, your place looks great. I love it. It’s so nice of you to invite me to stay with you for a while. Are you sure I won’t be getting in your way?… I guess what I’m asking is, do you have a girlfriend who may find me an inconvenience?”
“No, it’s been a while. My last relationship ended a couple of months ago and I’ve just been kind of chilling since then.”
“Well, that’s great, I guess. Anyway, this will give us plenty of time to catch up.”
I gave her time to get her stuff unpacked and get her clothes put into drawers and closets. Then I offered to show her around the neighborhood so she could know where the shops and restaurants were and where the bus stops were and all that. It was a beautiful afternoon and we were both enjoying being together and looking at shops and just having a good time. We had grabbed a quick lunch, but with dinnertime approaching, I suggested that we celebrate by going to a local Italian restaurant. I used to go there pretty often (cooking for one is pretty much a drag), so the owner greeted us effusively, and the waiter was eager to give us recommendations.
I ordered a bottle of Chianti along with our meal, so by the end of dinner, we were both feeling very mellow. After dinner, we walked back to the apartment. I suggested we might want to watch some TV for the evening, and suggested that if she wanted she could change into whatever she wanted for TV watching. She went back to her bedroom and I went to mine. When we met back in the living room, were both wearing sweatshirts and sweatpants.