It seems like my initial premise already failed. Everyday life, I said. Well, my very own everyday life will apparently change for a while, starting soon.
Simon, or Simba, (my father, who’s real nickname refers to another Disney character) told me we are expecting long term visitors, who’ll stay here in our house as well as in our back yard’s extra-house, a small two-roomer called The Igloo (the rough shape of the building is that of an igloo, because the architect was high when they made it). These visitors are two of my second cousins, the twins, and their father, Albert, Simba’s cousin.
Albert: a tall man seen from a distance at family gatherings, always oddly surrounded by other grown-ups, everyone laughing those loud, obscene grown-up laughs. In secret, Albert is known as “The Man with the Pig’s Heart”, because supposedly, he had real fucked-up heart problems when young, and now a pig’s heart is beating in his chest.
At those family gatherings—christmas or someone’s fiftieth birthday or whatever—everyone below twenty years old are placed at the same table, and awkwardness begins, there at the farthest end of a party tent, or in some grandparent’s basement. I don’t know my cousins, and they do not know each other. Kris, one of the twins, is our only solace on those occasions.
Kris will gather a crowd of bored family youths, and sit down on the basement floor to tell them all his new ghost-like stories about his father: “The Man with the Pig’s heart.” He once told us Albert got his replacement heart well before animals became scary and ungodly—animals, with their untethered, chaotically developing genomes, free from human intervention. And now Albert too is scary, because that pig’s heart beating in his chest is something ungodly—something from Before. Kris says it gave his father the ability to speak to animals. Walking through the forest, Albert would stop to listen to whatever he hears in the absolute silence. Sometimes he can be found on the laundry room floor, whispering to the spiders beneath the washing machines. He’ll make them kill you, Kris once said. He’ll make them crawl into your ear and up your brain at night.
Especially the younger kids surround Kris, their arms around their legs, listening, while we older kids stand dormant in the background, also listening. I think Kris enjoys scaring people. It’s his power: the ability to entrance, induce fear, and turn himself, too, into some kind of mythological, superhuman being. Because, after all, he’s living with that strange, tall, grown-up man with a pig’s heart.
I have no strong memories of Kris’ sister. I can’t recall her name. All I know is that I’ve seen her hovering in the basement’s shadows, and roaming about upstairs, talking to the grown-ups, maybe pretending she is one.
It’s a weird thing about these twins: I don’t think they like each other. That’s the impression I’ve got, at least, although I don’t know what gave me that impression. Maybe it is because I’ve never seen them stand beside each other, or talk to each other, or look at each other.
Simba, my father, didn’t tell me why they are coming. All he said was, “They’re traveling through, like nomads, and plan to make use of the hospitality of this house.” And then he laughed and squeezed my shoulder and retreated back into his office.
He played on this joke, an inside joke about how my closest family, especially my mom, are notoriously bad at receiving guests. But dad plays on the joke without bitterness, non-serious. He’s got the ability to make everything lighthearted: he could produce genuine laughs at the expense of a newly deceased relative. People meeting him for the first time always get the impression he’s the kind of person who views life as a big ol’ joke.