A Foul Day
It moved! I swear on my mother’s soul I saw it move! Glancing up, I scan the faces surrounding the table trying to determine if anyone else saw the jerking motion. No one seems to have noticed; they’re all laughing and drinking, chattering away happily while waiting to be fed. I blink a few times to clear my eyes. I’ve been working too hard lately, putting in too many hours, that’s all. I raise the carving knife and fork, once more preparing to plunge them into the bird trussed before me. It fucking moved again! This time with an accompanying slopping sound. A bead of sweat breaks out on my upper lip; my wife is staring at me hesitantly. With both hands now resting on either side of the beast, I take a few slow, deep breaths to calm my overwrought nerves. A slight nudge comes from my right. It’s my wife, a strained smile on her face; she nods toward the foul creature. I nod back. Bringing the arm with the fork up, I dab at the dew above my lip and make an off-hand comment about it being roasting in here. Everyone laughs. A small shake of my head, I exhale and raise the knife once again to begin slicing the meat. As the gleaming instruments near the platter, I hear a voice in my head. ‘Go on ya piss-ant piece of shit – cut me open. Show everyone what a big man you are and gut me. Gut me like you gutted your wife when the doctor told her your sperm are useless. Ya didn’t have the balls to stick it to your wife and knock her up, and you don’t have the balls to stick it to me either!’
What the fuck? My knees nearly buckle and my wife reaches out to steady me. I jerk my arm away. The room has grown quiet, the tension nearly palpable. I toss out another remark meant as a joke; the responding chortle is terse, fraught with unease. My wife is no longer smiling; she looks worried. I try to reassure her with a smile of my own, but a bare shake of her head lets me know she’s not buying it. ‘Ya do know she doesn’t have any faith in you anymore, right? She was expecting to marry a man, and look what she got – you! She knows about Terry, too,’ I almost utter a response. ‘Yeah, she’s known for the past month that you’re banging that bitch from work, she just doesn’t want to ruin the holidays for the family. Your ass is out of here as soon as the new year starts, buddy!’
Sure that I’m pale as a ghost, I lean on the table for support once more. My head hanging, limbs trembling; the nervous tick of the fork tapping against a glass the only sound in the nearly silent room. My wife reaches over again and lays a hand on my forearm. I lash out to shove her away, forgetting that I’m holding the carving knife with that hand. We stare at one another in shock for a heartbeat before her body crashes forward into the china on the table; her throat sliced ever so neatly from side to side. As the crimson of her blood mixes with the pumpkin colored hue of the tablecloth, a slight gurgling is all that resounds. I look on in horrified disbelief, then one of the children in the room lets out a horrified screech. The demon starts again, ‘Ha! Look what you…’ I begin stabbing it with the fork and maniacally chopping it to bits with the blade while screaming incoherently. Everyone in the room is looking at me like I’ve gone insane. I try to explain about the turkey… not realizing I was still holding the knife… the pressure I’ve been under… but there isn’t a sympathetic eye in the small gathering. ‘You know what you have to do, don’t ya? If you don’t, they’ll lock you back up in the loony bin again.’ An icy cold sheet of acceptance washes over me as I move to the doorway, blocking my wife’s teenage brother from escaping.
I was really hoping this family would be different, not like the last…
© Copyright 2014 Nina D’Arcangela. All Rights Reserved.
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