I let myself in to Kylie’s place without even knocking. If she wasn’t picking up Mom’s calls, she probably wasn’t going to answer the door either. Or maybe she would and she’d be irritated I hadn’t extended that small courtesy. Whatever. I still had a little brother’s prerogative to be an annoying shit when the situation called for it.
I, personally, wasn’t worried about Kylie. She got too focused sometimes, especially in her work, to care about the outside world. That was who she’d always been. Mom was concerned, however, and I’d promised I’d check in on my wayward sister.
Kylie’s loft was a labyrinth of paintings right from the entryway. Some were hung on the wall, most rested on the floor and leaned against walls wherever there was room. All of them were her work. I’d never known her to show enough interest in anyone else’s paintings to actually display them in her apartment.
My shoes got abandoned near the front door, then I picked my way carefully through the delicate maze. A few of the hung paintings were familiar to me, but none of the floor-dwellers were. The latter group tended to move on to new homes at a reasonable turnover, such that I would never count on seeing any of them again on a second visit.
Kylie was in her studio area, which was where she actually did her painting, and where she used to keep her finished work before it had spilled out everywhere else. She was only wearing an old t-shirt, with just brief flashes of her panties beneath as she moved this way and that. Small splashes of paint dotted her exposed skin, with far more of a mess over her shirt from the accumulation of many sessions.
Beautiful lighting filtered in through the large windows to the side of the room. The potential for natural light along with the available space had been the twin considerations when Kylie took the apartment way back when.
I stayed back a semi-respectful distance and cleared my throat. Kylie, by all appearances, hadn’t heard me. I knew better. She swiped her brush a few more times at the canvas in front of her, then finally turned.
“What?” she said.
My lips twitched into a smile. Such a curt greeting would have been considered rude by anyone who didn’t know Kylie better, and in fact often had been.
“Nice to see you too,” I said. “How’ve you been?”
Kylie sighed and set down her equipment. She rubbed an arm across her face, which only streaked paint all the worse over her forehead.
“Alright, Ty, have it your way. I could probably use a break anyway.”
I nodded. She usually could. She lost track of time all too easily when she was in one of her productive phases. “Did you remember to eat today?”
“Yes, smartass.” Kylie put a hand on her tummy. “Though I could probably go for some more food now.”
“Yeah, I thought maybe you could.”
Kylie glided easily through the room and across the cluttered floors. The way she walked through her apartment, you’d almost swear the arrangement of her paintings made sense, and you were the one being silly for walking so gingerly around them for fear of collision.
I followed my big sister to her kitchen area. She opened the fridge, stared at it curiously, then closed it. She did the same to the cupboards next to it.
“You forget to buy groceries again?” I asked as casually as I could manage, given the smugness that threatened to overtake my demeanor.
“Oh shut up. I got busy.”
“Yeah, I know. Busy. Speaking of which, Mom’s been trying to call you.”
Kylie shrugged. “She knows I turn my phone off when I don’t want distractions. She didn’t really send you to check on me again, did she?”
“She may have.”
“Dammit. Can’t get a moment’s peace.”
I bit back a reply suggesting that Mom trying to contact her every couple weeks didn’t really constitute an egregious breach of solitude. “Come on, let’s go out somewhere, yeah? Get some food in that tum tum.” I made my last few words deliberately patronizing, and emphasized them by patting Kylie’s belly.
“You’re an ass,” she said.
“Sure am,” I replied cheerfully. “Now let’s go. Chop chop. Get some pants on. Maybe a clean shirt. If you shower first, we can even go somewhere nice.”