The tree is decorated by the twins, carefully balancing the ornaments so it looks just right. They still speak the strange language they invented in childhood, the one no one can understand. When someone offers compliments, they nod and continue. Trying to help only gets you a slapped hand.
Dad is watching the game on the television. He sits in His Chair, the recliner molded to his body, the chair no one dares sit in. The Packers, nearly undefeated, are headed for Super bowl greatness, he’s sure of it. Shush, don’t bother him, dammit. He’s watching the game.
Aunt Grace and Uncle Darren are on the outs again. Every time he speaks, her mouth twists, making her ugly. When he reaches out to her, she shies away. “Not here,” she hisses. “Not now.”
Aunt Grace goes to the kitchen. “How can I help?” “No,” says Mother. “Out out, shoo, Grace. I have everything under control. No, don’t touch that, just get out.” Mother’s voice is firm. She never lets anyone into the kitchen. Grace knows that, but storms out.
Aunt Grace plops onto the sofa to watch the game. She hates football. I always wonder what Mother is doing in the kitchen which she doesn’t want people to see. Uncle Darren tries to sit next to Aunt Grace. Grace gets up and sits in Mother’s chair.
The only sound in the room is from the twins, their odd language spoken softly. Silent Night. Silent Day here. The only disease that runs in our family is secrets.
Inspired by a #storystarters, the last line, by Clifford Fryman