Thanksgiving Turkey

By on November 23, 2017

Twelve intimate strangers: bound by blood and matrimony, separated by a thousand lacerations of the heart.

The travellers gathered around to enjoy Papa Joe’s Thanksgiving feast, each having taken their place at the table; seats never assigned, but understood to be Suzy’s place, Jake’s place, ad nauseam.

‘Fourteen shitty years,’ thought Cheryl.  She wondered if she was alone in this feeling, but couldn’t accept it as reality.  The day had been seared into her soul, so every person sitting here had to be furious, right?  ‘So why-in-fucking-hell are we sitting around pretending we’re a conventional family?  Lord, help us if that’s true!’  Cheryl chuckled at the thought, and all eyes snapped in her direction; drifting away after she offered no explanation.

Dinner was eaten in relative silence, so her chuckle received nearly the attention of a thunderous gong.  Understandably, since the conversation had been an agonizing hour of “Pass the salt?,” “I’d like more dressing…,” and “Nasty weather, isn’t it?”  The silence was otherwise broken only by the clanking of tableware or an occasional car pushing through the slush of warming snow.  ‘Hell,’ she observed, ‘I can even hear the clock ticking from forty feet away!  It was never like this before, when simultaneous conversations would patter along non-stop, slowing only when you couldn’t hear the person next to you because of Papa Joe’s hearty laughter!  Then everyone would laugh, and new conversations would spark.’

Those days were truly special… and very distant memories.

Papa Joe still sports his signature smile, but he no longer laughs.  Nobody laughs.  ‘These fourteen years must have been hard on everyone,’ Cheryl surmised, but she had no real way of knowing since no one spoke of it.  Ever.  It felt like only yesterday at times, but more often than not it felt like fifty long years had passed.  ‘Fifty?  Where’d fifty come from?  Hell, I’m only thirty-five now!’  She chuckled again, and eyes glanced in her direction but quickly darted away this time.

‘Heartless, egocentric assholes; a wake of human vultures, picking at the skeletal remains of a turkey that has nothing left to give.’  “Pick, pick, pick!,” Cheryl screamed, as she jumped from her chair.  Then, her head bobbing like birds in a feeding frenzy, “Peck, peck, peck!”  She had everyone’s attention now.  “Fuck every single one of you!” she continued, as she kicked the chair out of her way and stormed from the table.

The family stared at her, then at each other…

“What’s her problem today?” snapped Jake.

“SCDD,” Angie quipped, “Same Cheryl, Different Day.”  Then, with air quotes and an eye roll, “Drama queen!”

“She ruins every holiday!,” sniffled Suzy, “Why does she even show up?”

Papa Joe quietly shushed the table, sweeping his hand in the air as if shooing a fly.  “Let her go and don’t let it ruin our holiday.  She’ll get over it… she always does.”

Eleven intimate strangers rose from the table, moved to the living room, and took their places.

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