Saturday, October 31, 2009

Thanksgiving Story

Too make up for how shitty the Halloween story turned out, here's an early Thanksgiving story. I sort of got the idea after reading Ian's comment on how boring Thanksgiving is.

"Why I hate Thanksgiving
You know what really sucks? Having to sit at the kiddy table during Thanksgiving dinner. You know what else sucks? Having to sit at the kiddy table during Thanksgiving when you're 17 years old. Every year at Grandma's I keep expecting to get to sit at the regular dinner table like an adult with full access to the food but every year I get regulated to the small card table in the next room. It's humiliating and I hate having to get up and ask for more food. It's like I'm a little kid again and I have to have ask the adults to load my plate for me.
This year was really bad because the turkey was dry and the stuffing had raisins in it and the cranberry sauce was the horrible canned stuff. It was all the food I didn't like. Thanksgiving is not a good holiday, it's like Christmas but you don't get any presents and there's no songs to sing or tree to put up. It's boring and I don't like it. I think we should get rid of Thanksgiving and make the whole month of November into Halloween."

You have to start writing full pages. I give you the whole hour on Monday's to do Journal writing and you keep turning in these half pages. I know you can do better. The most I can give you for this is a D. Your parents will also be receiving a call from me.
-Mrs. Grieves

I lied. The food was actually really good, as usual. I had gotten stuck at the kiddie table again and I really did hate it. I hate Mrs. Grieves writing assignments more. I love to write but not about things like "how to achieve world peace" or "sports I like." I had written full page really sarcastic pieces for those and gotten D's and a call to my parents about my "attitude." So I've tried to write full pages of "sincere" essays but I get sick of it halfway through. Actually, the Thanksgiving piece could have been a full page but Mrs. Grievous would have thought I was making it up just to be funny and then I'd get an F. God I hate that bitch. But since I'm just writing this for myself and no one but me is going to read it but me, here's what happened.

My sister Eileen is fifteen so she gets to sit at the kiddie table too. It was just us two and cousin Nicholas, who is five and who was making a disgusting diorama with his mashed potatoes and chocolate milk. I tried not to look at him.
"I hate sitting at this table." I mumbled and stabbed a piece of turkey.
"Well maybe if you didn't act like you were five they'd put at the normal table." Eileen said in that prim matter of fact voice that I hated so much.
"Well you should talk," I shot back, "Who was the one that let that pig loose at the Jr. High dance?"
"Hey! That was a team effort."
"Well it was your idea."
"So, it was stupid and juvenile."
Actually I did think it was pretty damn funny, especially when the pig pooped all over the dance floor and Kathi Heldman slipped and fell in it. But I was grumpy and wanted to argue.
Nicholas put his hand into his stuffing and squished it, singing a song while he did it. Eileen said nothing. I think I had hurt her and I actually felt bad. I didn't know how to make it better though so I just quietly ate my food.
In the other room someone laughed a bit too loud. That was probably Auntie Jessie, a victim of too much wine, per usual. I wondered if she'd jokingly ask me if I wanted some, she did it every year. I've always wanted to just snatch the glass away form her and and down it, just to see everyone's reaction. I'm always in enough trouble though so I don't.
I ate my food quick and went into the parlor early. After everyone is done eating they all retire here and sit around and bullshit and get drunk on wine until it's time to go home. It's mega boring.
I sat on the plastic covered couch in Grandma's parlor and thought. I thought about how old the icky yellow carpet was. It had to be early 1970s. I thought about how old the ribbon candy on the coffee table was. It had to be early 1930s. I tried to grab a piece and it came out of the bowl in one big clump. I dropped it in disgust. Eventually I got bored listening to the voices in my head and the steady tick of the wall clock and sat down at the piano. I plinked a few notes. Eventually I figured out how to play Mary had a Little Lamb and ran through it in different styles. I played it slow and sad, fast and jaunty, and somber and march like. Nicholas must have heard me because he came in and sat down and tried to push me off the bench.
"I play now!" He yelled, shoving me with his pudgy hands.
I laughed, I couldn't help it.
"But don't you want to hear my song?"
"Mommy says that you're a bad girl and that you're going to get knocked up and live in a trailer and work at Walmart. She says that's what happens to bad girls."
I frowned and pushed off the bench.
"Yeah, well your mom's a drunk with a big mouth."
"Imma tell her you said that!"
"Good!" I yelled as I walked out the door.

Eileen didn't say anything as I ran past the kitchen and the kiddie table. None of the adults said anything either as I ran out of the dining room door into the front yard. I wondered if they'd miss me if I just left. I knew where the library was in Grandma's town and I could go there and sit till I felt like coming back but then I'd get in trouble and get grounded again. Or worse, I'd get a lecture from Uncle Rob on responsibility like I did last year.
So I wandered around the yard. It was cold out, even though it hadn't snowed yet. I hadn't grabbed my jacket or my shoes. I looked down at my bare feet and laughed. I don't know why I found it funny, I just did. Grandma's yard is really small and I walked around the house three times before I started to get bored and cold. I was about to go back in when I wandered close to the neighbors property line and saw the For Sale sign swinging in the breeze. Then I remembered Grandma talking about how about a month ago they had just packed up and left. They were never on really good terms but it was a small neighborhood and no one seemed to know why they had gone or where they went to, which was odd. If someone sneezes in church in Grandma's town everyone talks about like the world is coming to an end.
I causally sauntered up and looked at the sign swinging in the breeze and up at the curtained windows. I looked back at Grandma's house across the yard. I imagined them all sitting in the parlor and talking and laughing and not caring about what happened to me. The hate that surged through me caught me off guard. I calmed myself down. You shouldn't hate your family, that was just wrong. As I chastised myself for being selfish and stupid I walked up the front steps and tried the doorknob, expecting it to be locked. To my surprise it opened and I stepped out of the cold November air, into the empty house....

It was colder inside than it was out and I shivered and watched my breath form in the air. It was overcast outside so it was very gloomy inside. I have a thing about empty houses, they don't feel right. I like to think of houses as living things that absorb a bit of the people that live in them. They develop personalities through years of different people moving in an out, but when a house is between owners it feels empty and sad. And also a bit creepy, like the house is watching you to see if you're going to adopt it. Standing in that house, looking down the hallway into the kitchen, I was probably more creeped out then I have ever been in my entire life. But I didn't want to go back yet and walked up the carpeted stairs, slowly, looking behind me to make sure I wasn't being followed...

The first door I opened was a bathroom. No big deal. I opened up the medicine cabinet. They may have left in a hurry, but they took everything with them, not an empty pill bottle in sight. I closed the cabinet and half expected to see a face appear in the glass like a cheap horror movie scare. Nothing. But I did still have the odd feeling that I was being watched. Nothing in the bathtub either, except a huge amount of nasty hair stuck in the drain.
The next door a little farther down must have been a bedroom. I walked to the window and looked out at my Grandma's house. It looked so far away and I was suddenly struck with an attack of loneliness. I thought about going back but decided to try the rest of the upstairs doors first. The next door on the right must have been another bedroom, a kid's room by the looks of it. I don't know too many adult's that have race car wallpaper. In the closet I found a small toy army man sitting alone in the corner. Someone had chewed up his head pretty good. I left him where I had found him.
Surprisingly, the next door down was locked. That was odd. Who locks a room when they move? I thought about breaking the door down. I thought about how cool it would be to find a whole room that had been left untouched. Then mother's voice spoke up in my head. Little Marie, can't stay out of trouble, what's to become of you? I shoved the voice out of my head and put my hands on the door to give it a push to see how well it would give and pulled away in disgust. The door was warm. Couldn't be. I put my hands back on it. No, it was. It was very warm. As I wondered how such a thing could be, something thumped in the room behind the door and my heart started to race. Then it thumped again, this time nearer to the door and I ran down the hallway and down the stairs...

At the bottom of the stairs I stopped and listened. The house was quiet again. I laughed at my stupid imagination. I was about to go back outside when I noticed something in the living room off to the right. They had left a piece of furniture behind, an end table. Curiously I walked over to it and tried the handle on it's small door. It was locked. Well, that wasn't going to keep me out. I sat down in front of it and kicked. It took two tries before the door broke inward. Stupid flimsy Walmart junk, I thought and I pulled the door out.

Inside was a small scrapbook full of pictures. It was the usual stuff, lots of pictures of a wedding and kids playing in yards. Happy people sitting around drinking beer. An ordinary family album, sort of boring if you don't know who the people in the pictures are. But about the middle, it got weird. It started with a picture of a woman, slightly pregnant, posing in the living room with her small belly out. She was smiling at the cameraman, who I assumed was her husband. As the pictures went on her stomach got bigger and bigger till it ended with her looking tired, lying in a hospital bed, but still very much pregnant. Then there several blank pages where pictures had obviously been torn out. You could still see the outlines of where they were. Then it went back to pictures of the lady, non-pregnant sitting in the kitchen doing a crossword puzzle. It went on for a bit with a few half-hearted pictures of the yard and a small black dog and then it just ended. I puzzled over it. Maybe the baby had died and they had torn them out in grief? It sounded plausible. I was about to put it away when several pictures fell out of the back of the album. I picked them up and looked at them in the dim light. I covered my mouth to cut back a scream and my whole body suddenly felt cold.
Something thumped against the door upstairs and I threw the album back into the end table and ran out of the house as fast as I could.

I sat and listened to Uncle Rob blabbing on about his new desk job. I didn't mind. I didn't mind my drunk aunt, or little Nicholas pounding away at the piano. It kept what I had seen out of my head for the time being, even though I knew that I would have nightmares for a long time. Plus it felt normal, it felt real. It felt safe.
On the way to the bathroom, I caught my sister coming back and surprised her by apologizing for what I had said earlier. I surprised her even more by giving her a hug. She didn't push me away though.
In the bathroom, I sat on the closed toilet and put my head in my hands and cried. After I felt back together again, I walked back into the parlor,sat down at the piano and taught Nicholas how to play Mary had a Little Lamb.

When we left that night I tried not to look at the empty house across the yard, but I ended up looking anyways. It sat in the dark, and empty forlorn thing, inviting me to come back to it, to stay forever. I wondered how long it was going to be before the thing upstairs got out. I told myself not to think about it. I've been thinking about it all week.

This is obviously fiction. I told you to write a true story about Thanksgiving and you give me this rubbish. You get an F for this paper and an F for the semester. I look forward to seeing you in class next year. Maybe then you'll be serious enough to get a passing grade.
-Mrs. Grieves

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