Mom and Dad were away on another vacation to Florida on Thanksgiving Thursday. What the fuck? When I dallied on the front porch in my sweatshirt and pants, they fussed over me. Why not? Wasn’t I their ‘little boy’? It was disgusting. Painful. They hardly had any space for me on their tight schedules. If it wasn’t the session with the president, then it had to be the meeting with the Congressman that they ‘just had to attend’. Whenever the night sky was illumined by twinkling stars, giving off sparkling silver, I’d poke my head out of the window and make a wish in the name of God. I wasn’t too sure about Him __ God__ since we rarely stepped a foot in our local parish, but Dianne was an influence. At present, I was about to have Thanksgiving dinner with the love of my screwed life and her family.
I paused on their front porch for a minute not just to gather my thoughts but to take in the view. The candle lantern hung above cast a golden glow over the steps. Real pumpkins were stacked above one another, in shades of white and orange. Fall leaves were scattered all the way to the door, and they seemed just right. They seemed like home. Where I belonged and was meant to be.
‘Come on in’, June beckoned to me. She was holding the door slightly ajar. I suspected she had spied me out through the window. I ruffled her hair. ‘Thanks, Junie. ’
‘Mom’s stuffing the turkey. I smell turkey. Turkey smell yummy’.
‘That’s not how you treat a guest, June.’ That voice belonged to a woman. Holy moly, I didn’t know her.
‘Dan isn’t a guest. ’ Another female voice. Dianne’s. ‘He’s my boyfriend. Aunt Scarlett, meet Dan. Dan, Aunt Scarlett.’, she briefed while bundling me away from the living room to the kitchen. Some of her younger cousins were watching a match on TV.
’Hey, son. What’s up? ’, her dad extended his arm for a bear hug. Then, I shook all of her ten cousins and cracked silly jokes as I admired the decorations. But what mattered most was Dianne sitting right opposite me at the dinner table. Rob was saying the Lord’s prayer. My eyes were shut. Hands clasped in prayer but I wanted to roam them all over her body. I risked a peek at her. She winked right back.
’Who do you want to give thanks for, son? Really? ’, Dad asked as he sipped his white wine. I nearly choked on my mashed potatoes. Dianne coughed up some of her gravy. I couldn’t send her a quick eye signal but, I could tell she was interested in my reply.
‘Well? What is it? ’
‘You, Snow. Without you, I wouldn’t know what happiness really is. I love your smile. Your hair, how it goes all wet and wild on a stormy night. Screw you for making me so needy every damned time.’
Aunt Scarlett was turning scarlet. A tint of pink was stealing into Dianne’s cheeks, and I gasped when I saw a tear escape her eye. I had never felt this urge to say something this much. She was special, different from every girl I’d ever met, and everyone in her family had to know. June had stopped tickling Rob. Then, she burst out crying.
‘Junie, it’s ok’, I tried to say but her rasps drowned out mine.
’You’re probably right. Just a tip, son. Keep loving her. She’ll need all the love and kisses she can get one day.’
I grinned at her, loving the way she curled her mouth in a half pout. Hell, it made me want to kiss her. Take her. Right there and then. Yeah, I know what you’re thinking. Only assholes crush on girls like Dianne Hampton. I’m one of them. She was still blushing uncontrollably, staring down at her gravy. I felt like a dumbass for saying that sappy shit but, screw normalcy.
He shot her a look. ‘Don’t make me tell on you’, he joked.
‘Oh? I want to hear all about it’, I teased her, winking. She mouthed, ‘Fuck you, asshole.’
We swooped down on the roast turkey with gusto. Mom had stuffed it with extra cornbread and onions. On any other day, I might have dug into the meal, thinking about nothing else, but not with Dan sitting across. He was trying with the confectionary pumpkin on his plate. Dad cleared his throat rather loudly.
‘Folks, there’s something I’ve got to… ’
’We’re in the middle of Thanksgiving dinner, Jade. It can fucking wait. Here, honey. Want some more pie? ’, Mom scooped a generous slice on June’s plate.
‘No, she doesn’t. I got a new job in LA.’ Everybody started chattering excitedly.
‘Oh my God! ’
‘Way to go, Dad! ’
Mom exploded in a bright smile. Her copper hair sparkled in the candlelight, and she kissed his cheek. ‘Oh baby. That’s wonderful! When did you get your shoe in? ’
‘Eight of this month’, he laughed. I froze. Over the huge rows of cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie and green beans, I caught Dan’s eye. He was trying to fake a smile, but was failing badly.
‘Wait, where are we gonna stay?’, June piped.
Aunt Scarlett nodded. ‘The kid’s right, Jade. You __ you found somewhere, didn’t you? ’
‘Course.’ But, knowing him as well as I did, he was probably lying. He lied a whole lot all the time. I wanted to reach across the table so I could shake him roughly and yell, ‘Dad! You just tore up my life! ’
And I did just that. The candle on the cinnamon stick fell. It’s wax spilled onto his pie but I didn’t give a shit.
‘Dianne! Don’t say that to Dad!’ It was Rob, and he was yelling at me for the first time ever.
‘You said you loved me Dad. Now, I see you don’t. You’re a liar. A god-damned liar! I knew you always wanted to tear Dan and I apart. You know what? I don’t give a fuck. Go ahead and move all the way to LA or wherever else you please. I__’ I choked, unable to breathe anymore.
‘Baby, please’, Mom begged. ‘We need the money.’
I saw red. ‘So, this is what this shit is about, isn’t it? Money.’
‘Honey, try to understand’, Rob moaned softly. But I was crying already. Smashing my porcelain dish on the tiles, I dashed out to the garage. I knew it was a crazy idea, but I turned the key in the ignition switch and headed west. I turned the jazz in the stereo system to it’s loudest, so that the car was virtually vibrating from the beats. Driving 50km above speed limit on a federal highway wasn’t the smartest thing to do, but I was tired and unable to think. My head swirled in slow motion. Thoughts blurred. The tarmac flashed past as I raced ahead. Damn Dad and all he stood for. I pressed the accelerator out of sheer frustration so the car wheezed on to a pedestrian crossing. Fuck!
I spotted a redhead, probably in her thirties, trying to make it past the road before the lights turned green again. She pulled her little son along, walking too fast for someone in stilettos.
‘Come on’, I groaned at them. Even though they couldn’t hear me. Then, his sneakers got stuck in some sticky loo in the middle of the road. Holy crap. I stuck my head out of my window.
‘Better fucking mind where you’re going, boy! ’
‘Don’t cuss him! He’s just a kid! ’, she yelled back, working frantically to free his shoe. Dumb answer. I could see he was a kid.