ON WRITING

“It’s very easy to quit during the first ten years of writing. Nobody cares whether you write or not, and it’s very hard to write when nobody cares one way or the other. You can’t get fired if you don’t write, and most of the time you don’t get rewarded if you do. But don’t quit.” Andre Dubus

Sunday, 28 November 2010

Family secrets revealed at Thanksgiving dinner. My story for Erica's BlogFeast.

Erica at Hypothetically Speaking is having a Thanksgiving BlogFeast. To read/join go here. It is open until Dec 7th, so polish up your Thanksgiving stories as this is a writing contest with PRIZES! You have to write a fictional story of 1500 words or less on the theme of Thanksgiving and family secrets. You also need a recipe. The recipe is for food. I stretched it to a drink as cranberries are a food, right?

My NaNo WIP is set in Nantucket as you would know if you read my post about google research. I was hoping I could write a scene for it. I did and it just didn't rock my boat, so I polished up one of my stories that's been in a dusty corner of Word waiting to shine at the right time. I hope it does shine as I'd like to get my hands on one of Erica's prizes.

So here it is, my entry in the Thanksgiving BlogFeast (with recipe for a slammer):

FAMILY SECRETS AND THANKSGIVING


MARGO

Every Thanksgiving it gets worse, the missing so much more painful. From the moment I held his chubby little fingers, tenderly undressed him and marvelled at his perfectly formed body, I was in love. This feeling has never left me; it is as strong today as it was 23 years ago on this very day. Despite my overwhelming feelings of love and adoration for my precious newborn, he was cruelly taken from me. I was told I was too young to bring up a baby. I couldn’t keep him, but I got to keep the pain. It’s always there, a catch in my heart. Having a lovely husband and two beautiful teenagers doesn’t take away the pain.


RAFE

I know she is remembering her baby boy. If only it was in my power to help. God knows I’ve tried so hard, done everything I could, followed all the advice I’ve been given, but I’ve come up empty. I love her so, but I know she can never be completely whole. She was scarred by losing her little one a couple of years before I arrived on the scene. There is always a sadness about her, even when she is in the lightest of moods. Our two children sense, rather than know, that there was some sad event in her past, but Margo has never shared the real reason for her sorrow with them. I hope she will share it one day soon. I believe it’d make us closer as a family but she says she’s afraid they’ll judge her.

ABBY


Mum’s got that faraway look in her eye again. She does this every Thanksgiving. I feel really angry when it happens, but she assures me it’s nothing to do with anything I’ve done. I still wish she’d realise that I’m a big girl now. God I’m nearly 20. Maybe I could help her if only she’d tell me what was wrong, instead of shutting me out. We’re so close in every other way, but it is maddening that she is so obviously keeping something important from us kids. I know dad knows what it is, as he looks so worried every time she gets this sad look in her eye. If only she knew how often Julian and I talk about it, wonder about it. We love her but she shuts us out.

JULIAN

Oh boy, mum’s at it again. When will she get over whatever it is she’s moping about? Abby and I have tried but it’s a no-go zone. It’s probably not a good time to tell her I’ve invited this guy for dinner. Found him hanging about near the pier. Foxy took a great shine to him, so he can’t be too bad. They say dogs are great judges of character and Foxy was all over him. He said he had nowhere to go for Thanksgiving. I can’t get my head around that. Fancy having no family to share such a special day. He should be here soon. God, I keep putting this off. There’s no good time really, not when mum’s like this. I’d better ‘fess up before…



The doorbell chimes. Everyone looks at each other. Who would be ringing the doorbell on Thanksgiving, especially at dinner time?


‘Er, mum, I, uh, I invited…’ Julian began.


‘You invited? You invited someone to Thanksgiving dinner and didn’t ask me first? Julian, you do some frustrating things but this is the worst! Today of all days!’


‘Calm down now darling,’ Rafe is by her side in an instant, smoothing things over as always. ‘Julian would have his reasons, eh son?’


Julian is glad to be the centre of attention. ‘Well, mom, this guy was sitting shivering on the town pier this morning when I took Foxy for a walk. He looked so lonely and I just asked whether he’d like to share Thanksgiving dinner. No biggie is it? Thanksgiving is for sharing, or so you’re always telling us.’

The bell rings again, its shrill sound adding to the tension in the room.

‘We’ll talk later Julian. For now, Abby, set another place please. I’m in the kitchen. Julian, go let your guest in.’

In walks Benoit. He shuffles self-consciously, eyes darting round, til finally they fix on the bright red tiles at his feet. He is dressed in jeans and a windbreaker. He looks frozen.


‘Hey Dad, sis, this is Benoit, er…sorry, don’t know your surname,’ Julian mumbles.


‘Marion,’ Benoit replies, teeth chattering.


‘Come stand by the fire, Benoit,’ Rafe offers.
‘Benoit Marion?’ asks Rafe, leading him to the warmth, ‘are you French?’


‘French-Canadian. I’m from Montréal. Québec.’ He looks around, his blond curly hair jerking around his shoulders.

‘You don’t look French, or French-Canadian, Benoit. You look like an Aussie surfer with all that blond hair and suntan,’ Abby says, sizing him up.

‘I was over in Oz for a few months. Hardly out of the water.’

‘Ah, that explains it then,’ says Rafe. ‘Australia is a long way from Nantucket. What brings you here?’

‘I came here once for a summer holiday with my folks. I always remembered it. It looks a bit different in November, but it’s been good checking out the old haunts.’

‘So where are your folks now?’ Rafe asks.


Benoit tears up. ‘They were killed in a car accident while I was in Oz,’ he says quietly. ‘That’s what brought me back. I was planning to stay in Oz and work for a couple of years and hopefully stay there.’


'Any particular reason you chose Australia?’ asks Julian. ‘My mum is Australian, but Abby and I have never been there. Mum came over here on some teacher exchange to Canada. Met dad and they ended up here teaching on Nantucket.’


‘Well, I was adopted when I was a baby.’ Benoit was looking a little less frozen. ‘I’ve been tracing my mother and apparently she is Australian. I’d only just got started on my search when I had to come back to Montréal when...uh...my parents passed.’


‘Tough all round Benoit.’ Rafe cleared his throat.


‘Hey!’ Julian yelled. ‘I’m starving! Can we eat and talk? You must be starving Benoit.’

‘Yes,’ agreed Rafe. ‘Please come through to the dining room Benoit. Margo is just putting the finishing touches to dinner.’


'Margot? Would you believe that’s my birth mother’s name?’


Rafe stood still. He felt a tingle up his spine.

‘You all right, Dad?’ asked Abby, concerned at her father’s pale face.

‘Yes, I’m fine Abby. Let’s go, shall we?’


Benoit thought the table looked amazing with its snowy white napkins, silverware, bowls of flowers and nuts, but what impressed him most were the smells coming from the kitchen. It’d been a long time since he’d smelt real home cooking.

Margo appeared at the dining room door, face flushed, curls awry, carrying the roast turkey.
She saw the stranger standing there, but some instinct told her this was no stranger. She stumbled, the turkey teetered on its tray. Benoit rushed to help, just as Margot bent over.


Their heads bumped together.


Rafe, Abby and Julian looked on, amazed. The two heads were an identical shape. The curly blond hair was stunningly similar.


Margot and Benoit stood up slowly, holding the Thanksgiving turkey between them, apologising to each other. They looked into each other’s eyes. They each saw a startling blue with long dark lashes.

Rafe looked from one to the other. He was speechless. The kids were puzzled.


Everyone knew there was some mystery in the room.


‘So Benoit,’ Rafe asked carefully, clearing his throat, ‘have you always lived in Montréal?’


‘No sir. I was born in Australia.’


‘Really?’ Margot’s voice sounded like she was talking underwater.


‘So how did you end up in Montréal?’ Abby asked.


‘Mom and dad told me I spent the first month of my life in a Sydney hospital. I was put up for adoption. They chose me, then took me to live in Montréal for dad’s work. They never went back to Oz.’



‘When is your birthday, Benoit?’ Margot knew Benoit’s next words would probably change her life forever. Her heart was jumping around in her chest and she had strange flutterings in her throat.


‘Actually, today. I was born on Thanksgiving Day in 1987. In Sydney. Today happens to be the exact date again. The fourth Thursday in November, the 26th.’


‘Margot reached for Benoit but fell into a chair. Rafe bent down and hugged her. Benoit, Julian and Abby looked on, only half understanding what was happening.


Julian turned to Benoit, ‘Hey man, looks like you’re our family’s secret.’


‘Son,’ said a teary Rafe to a weepy Benoit, ‘you’ve come home.’


Rafe, Julian and Abby watched in wonder as mother and son embraced. Rafe knew they would never be parted again.

‘This calls for a celebration!’ shouted Rafe. ‘Julian, mix some of those Thanksgiving’s a Breeze Seabreezes. Even you and Abby can have a sip. There’ll never be a Thanksgiving to top this one!

THE END

©DeniseCovey 2010



Thanksgiving's a Breeze Seabreezes




Ingredients


1 cup orange juice
1 cup cranberry juice
1 cup vodka
Mint sprigs, for garnish


Directions


Mix all in a chilled pitcher filled with ice. Pour into chilled glasses and garnish with mint. If desired, place a dollop of leftover cranberry sauce in the bottom of each glass before filling with Seabreeze mixture.




Recipe courtesy Michael Chiarello and Food Network.com

  • In Australia the legal drinking age is 18 years. That's why I was careful to say the kids could only have a sip.
  • The kids are using 'mum' not 'mom' as Margot, being Australian, wants this form of address. Benoit uses 'mom' because his adoptive parents encouraged him to use it as they intending always living in Canada. My google research says Canadians use either 'mom' or 'mum'???


Now click on the above link to read some other entries or to submit your own.


29 comments:

  1. I knew it! I love this story it almost made me weepy.
    Now how about a romance story for Benoit eh?

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  2. Joanna: Hope it's not too cheesy. A romance for Benoit. Great idea!

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  3. Wow! Nice job!!! Not too cheesy at all!

    That drink looks sooooo yummy too.

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  4. Colene: Thanks so much! Yes, I've got to make one for Christmas!

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  5. This is so lovely! Well done...especially with that cocktail! :)

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  6. thanks for such a happy ending the cocktails an added bonus
    cheers

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  7. Your story really moved me! Thank you for sharing it with us.

    Caption Competition
    Christmas Tales Blogfest

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  8. Good story, thanks.

    Funny you saying about using the word mum instead of mom. Years ago, I had a long conversation with an American friend. She was telling me about being in her garden looking at her mums. After a long pause, I asked, “Looking at your mum’s what?”

    How was I to know she meant chrysanthemums?
    The enigmatic, masked blogger

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  9. ...wonderful and timely idea for a blogfest, L:)

    The family gathering around holiday festivities is unfortunately a sore subject to venture upon for many, my family included.
    Your ending was the perfect antidote for such a touchy subject.
    Well done!
    EL

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  10. This is such a beautiful story. Everything's so seamlessly woven together.

    Didn't know that 18 was the legal drinking age. Here it's allegedly 21...

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  11. Kerrie, Ellie, Words Crafter, Masked Blogger, Elliot, Lisa: Thanks for your kind comments. Glad you enjoyed my story.:)

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  12. I could just drink that while I'm reading your story. It's wonderful! Well done.

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  13. Nice story with a happy ending!

    Recipe looks good, too!

    Monti
    NotesAlongTheWay

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  14. I hope this isn't too cliche at this point; but my only true comment is: BEAUTIFUL.

    Wow. A perfect story to start the holiday season. *blows nose*

    In this spirit: I hope you don't mind a connection link. I participate in the writing prompt three word wednesday, and I discovered an Australian poet at
    http://greyscaleterritory.blogspot.com/
    I thought you might like.

    I rather like her postings when I remember to visit her site. I hope you enjoy her also Denise.

    ......dhole

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  15. Love the story. I am a sucker for a happy ending. I also have a soft spot for people born on Thanksgiving...like me. I was born on Nov 28th, many moons ago. But I did not know the pilgrims, let me get that straight right now.

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  16. Kangaroobee: I wish I could send you one!

    Monti: Thanks so much!

    Donna: Thx for link! Glad you like the story!

    PJ: Happy birthday! Glad you liked the story. I've just worked out my frequent blogger list so I don't miss your posts and I miss you!

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  17. What a lovely story. I particularly like how you used the multiple POV excerpts :)

    And thanks for the recipe, might give that a try sometime ;)

    Rach

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  18. Great story, I hope you win. When I was little I called my mother, mommy. As an adult I say mom. If the children are present we use her favorite grandmother name, Oma. No German in my mom, she just likes it.
    Nancy
    N. R. Williams, fantasy author

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  19. Rachael: Thanks. I've written this story 3 ways, but I like this POV one.

    Nancy: It is confusing. Oma is lovely. I like it too.;)

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  20. I really enjoyed this story. I admit I sniffles a bit as well. I hope you win!

    The drink recipe is making me thirsty. It is snowing like mad out right now, a breezy drink might keep me warm and I can imagine I'm on the beach!

    I really like your blog design too.

    Kari

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  21. Hi,

    Really nice touch with this, and an HEA with a diffence on top of neat twist! ;)

    best
    F

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  22. Kari: Thanks so much!

    Francine: Thanks, Francine. Glady you like it.:)

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  23. I love getting inside the heads of the family members. What a great set up!

    I didn't even know about this BlogFest. You did two Thanksgiving posts - impressive since you're an Aussie!

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  24. Wow, heady stuff! I think I'd need a cocktail too after all that...

    Great story.

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  25. Theresa: Thanks!

    Adina! Slurp...hic.:)

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  26. A beautiful story. I loved the ending. Thanks for sharing!

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  27. Awww, very emotional. Nicely done. You are talented and let no one put you down.

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