THE BROPHYS. | By: Terry Collett | | Category: Short Story - Comedy Bookmark and Share


Bernadette Brophy posed for the painter. Father said not to give off any goofy grins. She smirked. Her brother Frank gave off the impression of having just woken up to a bright day. Mother looked at father who looked at the artist wanting his money’s worth.  The artist sketched, his fingers holding the charcoal, moved swiftly over the page. Bernadette looked at the painter’s hair. Wants it cut scruffy bastard. Eyes too close together. Gran said beware of those fellows. She wanted to sit, but the painter insisted on them standing to get the details just right. Frank fidgeted. Mother stared and Father gave off a near off silent fart. Hoped no one noticed. Bernadette held her breath. Imagined she was deep-sea diving. How long for? Some divers go for some time. She gazed at the hairs protruding from the painter’s nose. Three or more. Curled. She wondered if the smell had gone yet. She breathed cautiously. The air held staleness, a slight hint of dead flowers and the artist’s paints. Frank sighed. Mother hushed him. Father stared ahead like a captain on the ship’s bridge. Bernadette wanted to break into the goofiest of grins or poke out a tongue. Instead, in just smirked. The painter sketched on; his eyes looking up and down every few moments from the page to the family gathered. Bernadette felt an itch behind her knee; wanted to scratch. Just a quick scratch. To ease the itch. He’d not mind. She bent down and fingered behind her knee. Scratched. Mother flicked her behind. The arse stung. She stood up red-faced and stared at the painter with his brown eyes and hairy nose. The itch was still there behind the knee competing with the stung arse. Mother muttered into her ear. She could hear Father whispering inanities. Frank looked at her with a sideways glance and a boyish grin. She wondered if the painter would draw her newly formed budding breasts. Not that you’d notice. She pushed out her chest, lowered her chin. She always gazed at her new buds at bath time. To see how they were coming along. Bridget Kelly had bigger ones. She’d seen them in the gym at school. Flopping about as she ran and jumped the sexy mare. Bernadette hoped the painter got her nose right. She’d her mother’s nose; not her father’s thank Christ. That’d be a punishment to see that painted for prosperity. The nuns said it was vanity to worry over looks. Vanity of vanities Sister Agnes had said. That nun had the features of a beat-up bum so she did. She’d no fear of vanity with a face like that. The painter coughed. Mother said not to fidget, poked in the back. First, the itch, then the stung arse and now the poked back. She stood stiff and still. Didn’t want to get Father on the wrong side. She hoped the painter got her eyes right; she’d her father’s eyes, worse luck, without the bags though. Now the itch was in her groin. Her hand wanted to scratch. Maybe if I do it slowly they’d not see. She walked her hand slowly down to the groin and the fingers began to scratch. Yes. Heavenly. Dreams are made of. Mother grabbed her arm, squeezed. The scratching stopped. The itch remained, competing now with the squeezed arm, the stung arse and poked back and Mother’s breathy words in her ear, threatening a tanning or death or worse. The painter stopped and smiled. His smile like a sliced melon. The family unfroze, grinned, and smiled and Father eased out a trumpeting fart. Everyone pretended not to notice. Father fanned behind him with his hand. Mother patted Frank’s head and went red. Frank grinned goofily, Bernadette scratched her itch, rubbed her arse, moved away from Mother’s hand and words, and poking finger, sensing the sting still there, holding her breath, gave a smirk. These family things are a disaster, she mused, starching her groin, waste of time, they never work.

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