My Family—The Kendals
Mom and Dad claim they met on a nudist beach in the tropics somewhere. These days they are only nudists in the shower. I am also a nudist in the shower, but I wear clothes at all other times.
My incredibly annoying older sister, Jessie, has a Random Mood Generator. Her favorite tracks are Psycho, Bossy, and Mega Mean.
When Mom lost her wedding ring, she located it using a metal detector. It was in the body of my baby brother, Timmy. She had to dig through all his dirty diapers until she found it. She still wears it. Gross.
We live at 26 Beechwood Road. Dad thinks our address is boring, so he named our house and stuck a sign on the front. He thinks calling a house Konnichiwa (“hello” in Japanese) is cool. He is wrong.
No one in my family knows my name. They call me Bean, short for Beanpole. I happen to know that my name is Daniel Kendal.
I have nothing in common with my family.
The Big Fat Family Secret
I like to eat breakfast on my own before going to school. It’s safer and quieter that way. Every day, I eat four single-serving boxes of Mega Flakes, which I stack like two double-decker buses parked next to each other on the table. I need the calories to feed my growing legs, which are very long and very hungry.
Today I was still eating when Jessie came in to annoy me.
“What is it with you and those freaky long legs, Beanpole?” Jessie said, waving her hair straightener around like a pair of manic chopsticks.
“There’s nothing wrong with my legs.” I was unarmed. I grabbed my cereal boxes and built a wall across the kitchen table.
“They’re weird and I don’t want them anywhere near me.” Jessie snapped her straightener at my feet.
I pulled my legs back to my side of the table. No way was I letting her grab me with those superheated jaws. I was already the tallest kid on the planet—I didn’t need to be covered with stinky burnt hair as well.
“I don’t even know what you’re doing living in this house,” she said.
“I’m your brother.”
“Really?” Jessie pushed the cereal boxes off the table and got right in my face.
I had a clear view up her nose. I wasn’t sure how Jessie got that hair straightener up there without burning her nostrils, but the hair in her nose was definitely straight.
“Wanna know the family secret?” she said. “The one about you?”
“There are no secrets in this family,” I said. This is one of Mom’s favorite sayings.
“No secrets?” Jessie said in her sarcastic voice. “Really?”
She was right and Mom was wrong. There were lots of secrets in our family, and I knew some of them.
1. Mom said she’d given up chocolate, but I’d found a giant almond Hershey bar behind the microwave, and the bar kept getting smaller.
2. Timmy knows three bad words. I taught them to him myself.
3. Jessie had a puff on a cigarette at Uncle Jimmy’s fortieth birthday party and then she was sick. (Serves her right.)
4. When Mom thought Dad was cutting Mrs. Jenkins’s hedge, he was actually fixing Miss Duffy’s car. Dad calls Miss Duffy Carol. Mom calls her Killer Heels.
5. I’ll be getting a new bike for Christmas. I wasn’t supposed to know, but I saw the catalog with a page ripped out. I hoped Mom would order the right bike. She likes pink, but I hate it.
These were my top-five family secrets. I didn’t think the big fat family secret Jessie was referring to was my new bike.
Jessie’s Random Mood Generator was stuck on Mega Mean. “You aren’t really my brother,” she growled.
An icy chill crept up my back and wrapped itself around my neck.
“You’re an alien, abandoned on Earth by your alien parents.” She snapped her straightener at me.
“Dad didn’t want you.” Snap.
“I didn’t want you.” Snap.
“But Mom felt sorry for you. And now we’re stuck with you.” She whacked her stupid straightener at my head as she got up to leave. “Why don’t you take your alien legs and go back where you came from? And you can take Serena Blake with you. She loves aliens.”
“Serena Blake?” I said. “Who’s that?”
“A nutjob in my class. See ya later, alien boy.” Jessie threw a crust of toast at me and stormed out.
What did she mean? Aliens didn’t exist. Except in movies, and those aliens had tentacles, crazy black eyeballs, or telescopic necks.
I wasn’t like that. I was normal. Well, not exactly normal, but I was convinced I was one hundred percent human.
So what did Jessie mean? She said I wasn’t really her brother.
A rock of doom smashed me in the stomach.
Was she telling me I was adopted?