Tuesday, November 23, 2010


During this time of appreciation and gratitude for all the people and good times we have in our lives, this week's challenge was to compose some Thanksgiving Hell. No way could I pass this one up! This time, the prompt was words to incorporate into the story. They were slap, sleet, tureen, and felt. The genre was of our own choice and word count was 1,000 or less. I wish to all a very Happy Thanksgiving, and hopefully, your family get-togethers are much less stressful than my main character's. Please enjoy.


“I can’t believe this. What a surprise. Renting a hall at this nice cafĂ© just for me? I have to tell you, this is just what I needed after the day I’ve had today. Let me tell you…”

“Anna? How could you do this to me? You knew I was going to wear my favorite sweater and the skirt with the poodle design. But here you are, showing up in that hideous copycat outfit you made just to spite me. Your poodle doesn’t even look like a dog anyway. It looks like a beaver with sequins on it. Why don’t you just walk right up and slap me in the face? That would have hurt a whole lot less. How can I stay here now in the same restaurant with you? I’ll never be able to show my face in this town again.”

“Sara, it’s alright. No one is going to notice what the two of you are wearing. I mean, we’re all going to end up in the back room that you rented for my birthday party, aren’t we? It’s not really that important after all.”

“Not important? Not important? I don’t know what you consider important, but my reputation is critical to me. I have never felt so humiliated. And you, my own sister? How dare you talk to me like that? There’s just no accounting for taste sometimes. You know as well as I do that I told you first that I was going to wear this outfit tonight, and it is not a copycat outfit. Mother knows that I made this skirt and sweater long before you bought your dollar store version. Isn’t that right, Mother?”

“Aunt Estelle, please make your girls understand that it doesn’t make any difference to me or anyone else. I think they both look lovely and I’m just grateful that you all got together to throw me a surprise birthday party tonight. I love having my family with me on this special occasion, and I think we should just go on now to the back and have some cake and punch and just forget about all this nonsense. You see, I had a very rough day today. When I walked into work…”

“Nonsense? You think this is all nonsense? I never imagined you of all people to be so insensitive to your cousins’ feelings. How can you be so selfish? Sara, Anna, Uncle Bob and I are all the family you have left. Well, there’s your Uncle Dan, Aunt Flora, and their sons, William and Lester. Of course, they couldn’t make it tonight because they had other plans. Other plans. Right. They just think they’re better than the rest of us since Dan got that promotion. Let me tell you something. Being promoted to senior cook at the Burger Barn isn’t that big of a deal. All that means is that he’s the oldest windbag on that crew of thugs. I’ve had enough. I’m going home. You can go back there and have your cake and punch if that’s what you want so badly. Bob? Let’s get Anna and Sara home. They’re both upset and somebody here doesn’t have any regard for anyone’s feelings but his own. Come on girls, would you like to stop for some ice cream on the way home?”

Okay. Happy Birthday to me. You’re fucking right I’m going on back to eat that cake and drink that punch. Hope to God this joint’s got some 90 proof I can stir into it though. Yet another delightful evening with my family. Mom and Pop got lucky that night when they couldn’t see for all the sleet and Pop crossed the center line just in time to lock front ends with that semi. Their suffering was over. And mine? It had just begun. Yeah, the aunts and uncles and cousins took care of me those 8 years till I went out on my own, but now, on every occasion they deem special, like holidays, my birthday, their birthdays, Arbor Day, you know the drill, they make sure we all have to get together to have a party. I arrive, say 10 or so words, they start in on each other, they go home, and I’m left behind with plastic containers full of salads. Oh well. I’m not much of a cook and the stuff does feed me for a few days. Thanksgiving is coming up though and it’s my turn. They’ve all been invited to my house for dinner. The whole crowd. They’re all coming too. Dan and his gang don’t have other plans that day. I’m going to give them all different dinner times so they don’t all arrive together. This holiday is going to be the best ever.

* *

“A Very Happy Thanksgiving to us all! I’m so glad you could all make it today. I’m anxious for all of you to try out the meal I’ve prepared. As you know, I’m not much for cooking, but I wanted everything today to be extra special. Let me get you some homemade vegetable soup, Aunt Estelle. Recognize the tureen? It was Mom’s. Keeps everything nice and hot. Uncle Dan? You’ve got to try my dressing. I found some recipes in a magazine and tried them all. Cousin Anna and Cousin Sara? You both look so beautiful today in your striped sweaters and poodle skirts. William and Lester, get some ham and turkey. I know you are both still growing boys. Aunt Flora, why so quiet today? You usually have so many interesting tidbits of your life to share with the rest of us. Uncle Bob, more wine? I know how much you love the dark red kind.

Isn’t this the best time we’ve ever had together? None of you minded the double taps as you walked through the front door, did you? I didn’t think you would. Isn’t this cozy, all of us sitting here around the table. Now, about my day…”


  1. Joyce, this is so well told, it's like someone in a bar saying come here, I've got something to tell you, and unfolding a piece of horror. You are the mistress of the sucker punch.

  2. Richard, Thanks so much. I'm so glad my 'method' of telling came across the way I intended. 'Mistress of the sucker punch'? You made my whole week with that one. Thanks again!

  3. Actually, I don't know what a 'sucker punch' is, BUT what I do know is that you had me with the poodle skirt fashion faux pas and I laughed uproariously at "Why don’t you just walk right up and slap me in the face? That would have hurt a whole lot less," and even more at "Happy Birthday to me. You’re fucking right ..."
    So funny, I enjoyed it so much. Thanks Joyce!

  4. I wrote a comment but it does not seem to have appeared ...

  5. Fabulous... I never saw it coming! (I had to google "double taps" though, as I have never heard of that) I also like the slight change in mood when the first person starts. Really enjoyed this, Joyce.

  6. Sorry, Matt, I'm a bit behind. A migraine got the best of me today. So glad you enjoyed the story. I was laughing the whole time I was writing it. Although, I'll have you know, when I was in grade school, I DID have a poodle skirt and... Oh well, never mind. That's a whole other story! Thanks so much for your comments.

  7. Thanks, Ingrid. Glad you liked it. I first heard someone use the term 'double tap' in a movie (Heat, actually) and I've always wanted to put that in somewhere. While I was going over this story in my mind, it popped in there and I thought, I have to stick that in. It's perhaps a bit of a heavy-handed approach to family discord at Thanksgiving, but...