Second Impressions

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Table manners

My mouth watered with all the food placed in front of me. It was a banquet worth contemplating. I was starving and I couldn’t wait to devour my plate, but the staff only served a tiny portion on my dish. Just because I am skinny doesn’t mean I can’t eat a regular size meal, I thought while glaring at Rosie, asking for more with my mind.

Yes! She scooped more of the mashed potatoes, and I felt so happy for all the food that was about to settle in my stomach. I smiled thankfully at her and felt the cold stares of all the family members seated at the table when I moved my fork and knife to cut a piece of chicken. Shoot! They are staring at me.

Their eyes were gleaming in disapproval. I looked at Sarah, who was shaking her head, telling me to stop. Darn it!

I blushed and placed my silverware back on the table. The mix of silence and dislike from their looks was enough to take away my appetite, and may I add I haven’t eaten a good meal in days if you consider Cup A Noodles something decent.

I saw as no one moved until Anna and Edmund took their first bite, then everybody else started enjoying their food, and I was unsteady to pick my silverware again, so I didn’t.

Instead, I took my wine glass and swallowed a big gulp. Rosie poured more wine into my glass before leaving. I am starting to like this woman; maybe she knows I need it.

At this point, they were ignoring me, and I wondered if speaking while eating was also considered bad manners in their little rule book.

“How is work?”Alexander broke the silence looking at Darius.

Thank God!

The conversation started to flow between the two brothers; they sure had a lot to catch up to. I listened to them and watched how my sister held hands with Alexander below the table.

Jesus! Can’t you keep your hands to yourself for a minute?

The other two family members were a woman in her twenties, Vivian, almost my age, who had a stylish french bob with bangs making her look very posh, and an old gentleman beside her.

His name was Oliver, he was very skinny, with round-shaped glasses and only intervened with smart comments during the conversation.

The rest of the time he remained silent, but I knew he was observing my every move. I couldn’t help but wonder how he looked like a character I would portray in one of my books. I found myself drawn to intellectual beings who thought before muttering the first words that came into their minds.

Vivian looked extremely bored, as she was attending this Christmas week out of responsibility. I assumed she was Oliver’s daughter, and he seemed to be Edmund’s brother. That would make him Alexander’s and Darius’ uncle and cousin, but I wasn’t sure, we only had a brief introduction before sitting down.

“Tell me about your parents, Sarah” Edmund Rothschild asked, cutting through the conversation so everybody could hear. “I would like to know more about you.”

His smooth and elegant voice was very commanding. Who could say no to this man? It felt like he had the world on a string.

“They both died in a car accident when I was eighteen,” she paused and continued. “Since then, Ollie took care of me, and it’s been the two of us,” she muttered.

Exactly, I was the one who took care of you.

“That’s unfortunate,” He replied, genuine concern coming through his voice.

At least someone in this family is a human being.

“It’s in the past now,” she added with a smile.

He stayed quiet. No one else had anything left to say.

“You are a theater actress, right”? Anna asked Sarah.

“Yes, but I’d like to experiment on film or television”′ Sarah replied shyly.

“What about the new role you got on that TV pilot from Paramount?” I asked on purpose. Sarah was very talented, and I would not let this woman think of her as a school play actress.

“Oh, about that. I kind of turned it down. I am planning on taking a long break.” Sarah said.

A long break? That seems strange. She was so excited about being cast in that TV pilot. What happened to the person that wanted to eat the whole world? This is not my sister.

Darius looked amused by the information, and Edmund continued asking questions after questions until it just felt like an interview.

Is he going to ask if we have any family genetic disorder now?

“Olivia, Sarah told me you went to Harvard?” Alexander said, changing the topic.

“Yes, I did,” I replied “And please call me Ollie”

“Oh, and what did you study, Ollie?” Anna asked with genuine curiosity.

“I have a Bachelor’s Degree in English Language & Literature,” I mumbled and kept my head down while looking at my fork and playing with my food. I hope this round of questions stops.

“What are you planning on doing with that degree? If you are lucky, becoming a teacher at that same school could be your best shot of success. That is If they accept you” She sighed and looked at Edmund with tired eyes before proceeding. “Definitely, Millenials are destined to be poorer than these last generations,” Anna replied.

The audacity of this woman, unbelievable.

“I believe each generation brings something valuable and different,” I said to her, faking a big smile. “Besides, there are more valuable pursuits in our human existence than the accumulation of wealth.” I finished speaking, batting my eyelashes.

Take that, you old hag.

“Charming dear, but common people have to pay their...bills,” she said, emphasizing the word bills.

I froze.

She continued, “Am I right? You have bills to pay, Olivia. I mean every month,” Anna said, laughing.

Bills, Bills, Bills, my mind kept on repeat.

Is she sending me a message?

Does she know about my huge debt?

Is she already friends with Ben Attewell, my finance nightmare?

“Yes, Mrs. Rothschild, we, the common people, have bills to pay,” I manage to say with my fake smile still on. I am not giving them the satisfaction of seeing me offended. I can play this game too.

“Do you plan on becoming a writer?” Oliver asked.

Finally, someone with a normal question.

“I already am,” I replied.

“And what do you like to write about?” He wondered.

“Everything wrong with our society, sometimes I write about how poor my generation is destined to be. The thought alone makes me so sad” I said with a touch of light sarcasm, indirectly sent to Anna even though I was ignoring her.

Darius frowned just showed me how overprotective he was of his mother. Can’t you handle a little tease? I felt so accomplished.

What I said wasn’t true. I had better things to write about, but just breaking Anna’s little bubble of superiority was worth the comment. Nothing like putting an entitled bitch right into her place.

Oliver’s eyes pierced me before looking at Edmund, his brother. They shared a look as if this wasn’t their first rodeo handling two female felines. He even smirked a little bit, making me wonder what their thoughts were.

“So we have a dreamer and an actor, delightful,” Anna said between her teeth.

One thing was for sure. In this banquet, we were the food, and they were eating us alive.

I knew Sarah was about to speak. Please, Sarah, don’t go this way. Nothing you say will impress them.

“Ollie is the smartest person I know”, Sarah added with excitement. Shit! She just sent us through a cliff.

Darius scoffed immediately and Sarah almost choked with the food.

Did he seriously laugh in my face? I had a feeling something like this was about to happen.

“A penny for your thoughts?” I asked Darius with a raised eyebrow. What a hot schmuck’s face he has.

“How smart are you?” he asked so naturally. “There are things you can’t learn even if you went to an Ivy League College, things that money can’t buy,” he added after a brief pause.

I was speechless. Everybody was quiet, and Anna’s growing sinister grin was starting to make me feel unsettled. It was too much to digest. Did he just say that in front of everybody?

“Darius believes that college is overrated, so don’t take it personally,” Alexander said, trying to calm the waters. He looked at Sarah as if they knew something they were not sharing.

“Meaning?” I glared at him, putting all my effort into controlling my fury. I already felt like he stabbed me, just from the disgust in his face.

“Meaning that real education is not forced in a school system, it starts in your home,” He said bluntly.

After all the trouble I passed to graduate from college, Is he implying I have no education for having dead parents?

Sarah was already looking down at her lap, and that made me more furious. At this pace, she was going to lose all her self-esteem with this family. I hate you! I fucking hate you, Darius!

“But I missed the answer to your question. What is something you cannot buy?” I asked, expecting his venom to come out, but he chose to be silent, and his mother answered for him.

“Class, dear,” Ana added in her high-pitched sweet voice.

Well, that was offensive and demeaning.

“Mother, not here,” Alexander said softly with his eyes open; I could tell he also squeezed my sister’s hands. He was starting to pull his hair, and it felt good that I wasn’t the only one who disliked them. Sarah was just in a state of shock, silent.

Everybody looked uncomfortable except the two of them, Anna Elizabeth Rothschild and Darius Robert Rothschild, two peas in a pod. He looked calm and confident like nothing could bother him. Fucking annoying.

“For example, you should stop playing with your food. We expect at least some basic table manners if you are seated at our table,” He said with such a controlled voice.

His manly jaw clenching in disapproval. Of course, he had to say something to back up his mother.

“Oh, my apologies, I didn’t mean to disturb you. I suddenly lost my appetite,” I said with innocence, flattering my eyelashes.

He stayed quiet, watching my expression; his mouth was twitching.

The bigger the ego, the smaller the penis. Is your penis so small, Darius? Is that why you want to control everything?

“Did you know that hand-to-mouth eating is a time-honored tradition in many cultures across the world?” I said, delicately picking a grape with my fingertips and putting it in my mouth. I chewed it seductively, slowly enjoying his daring eyes; after I swallowed, I couldn’t contain a big smile. I knew he was about to crack.

“You are not from the Middle East or North Africa,” He replied loud and coldly.

Someone at the table cracked in laughter. Vivian had been so silent that I wasn’t expecting her to be so carefree. Her first interaction at the table was helping my mission to mock Darius, but everybody was beginning to accompany Sarah into a state of shock.

“I like you!” Vivian said brightly, still calming her giggles. “Maybe, I should start eating with my hands too.” She grabbed a piece of food, imitating me. “Anything to make my dear cousin snap again.”

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