I write flash fiction, non-fiction, essays and novels, but the majority of my pieces are short fiction, the classic short story. This month’s Tease is from one such story, and just so happens to be set at Thanksgiving.
She seals the stuffing in a plastic bowl as her mother piles whipped cream on a wedge of pumpkin pie. “Take this to your father in the other room, would you dear.”
She finds her father in his recliner, reading the paper, tossing the Black Friday ads. “All those idiots, getting up at four in the morning. Like cows getting milked.”
“I did it once. Kind of crazy, but fun.” She smiles feebly.
He just shakes his head and continues reading as she sets his pie on the coffee table. She turns, then spins back again.
“Dad, can I ask you something?”
“What?” he mumbles from behind the paper.
“Dad, are you proud of me?”
“What for, bringing me those two bear-faced hyenas that crap boulders? As if I don’t have enough to do around here.”
“No, you know. Proud of me. Who I’ve become.”
He pulls down the paper and looks at her for a long time. His eyes are tired and shiny. He pulls the paper back up, hiding his face. “Ah hell Nicky, you know how I feel.”
She sighs, rolls her eyes. “No, I don’t.”
Silence. The paper doesn’t move. After a couple of deep breaths, she throws her arms in the air and turns. Her mother is leaning against the kitchen entrance, watching. “Put on your coat, dear. I want to show you something.”
They slip out the back door into the crisp night air. She can see twin dog rumps in the moonlight. They’ve chased something into a space behind the steps. Leo looks up, panting and grinning, as if inviting the humans to join the hunt. They decline, continuing down the path to the forbidden shop.
Vapor rises all around her mother’s face as she reveals her secret. “He keeps the key under the door frame, here.”
“It’s alright. We have an unspoken agreement. He acts like I don’t know and I act like I don’t care.” She rattles the padlock free. “I should’ve done this a long time ago.” The door creaks open, liberating the scent of sawdust and two-cycle oil. “Go on.”