I took a break from Red Slaves last week and started something completely different. In the midst of seasonal family revelries, my head was someplace darker, and I started working on a new short story. This is planned to be one of several short stories that form part of a second go at a Katarr Kanticles Press anthology in 2013. The anthology is set around a horror theme, so this one has everything to do with the horror of changing family ties–with the paranormal twist I can’t seem to avoid in my writing.
Without further ado:
The afternoon sun streamed in the window and sparked rainbows off the cut crystal stemware. Lana wondered why her mother had been persuaded to go to all this trouble, when her father’s betrayal was still so fresh. He had presented his divorce decree and marriage certificate almost in the same breath, just a month before Thanksgiving. Lana suspected her mother still harbored hope that the strange woman now in her family’s midst was just a nightmare from which she could wake up.
At least Lana had been successful in enforcing the division of families. She sat by Henry and her mother in the kitchen, while the interloper and her adult children enjoyed the repast so carefully presented in the formal dining room. Lana had drawn the line at breaking bread in the same room as the woman who had convinced her father to cut his decades-old family ties.
Yet they were following all the old traditions: The 25-pound turkey was golden-brown and juicy; the cornbread stuffing paired perfectly with the giblet gravy; the sweet potatoes and mashed potatoes crying out for that topping too; the green beans with almond slivers; the Brussels sprouts with garlic and butter; the cranberry salad and jelly; and all the desserts. There would be the full complement of pies: Apple, cherry, pumpkin, and pecan–as well as the vanilla ice cream they had hand-cranked over the summer, during happier times. The tables would have groaned at their loads, had they not been divided between the rooms.
Henry and her mother were doing their best to carry on a normal conversation, but Lana was trapped in memories. She could see the marks on the door frame that showed how she and her sister had chased each other’s heights, until finally, in High School, Laney had surpassed her to become the willowy model that allowed her to travel in style to the exotic locales her photographers insisted she visit.
She could see the lighter patches on the wall where her mother’s collection of china plates from countries they had visited as a family were now missing–packed up and ready for the mover to arrive in the morning.
She measured the tall cabinets again in her mind’s eye, wondering if finally she might be tall enough to reach the top shelves.
If it weren’t for the full force of the traditions around this time of year, the room would be haunted by these echos of the past.
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