It isn’t like they were having a nice time. They all know it. They’re sitting around the oak, dinner table ogling the delicacies set before them. Mother always thinks it’s the best idea to set up a dinner feast so fancy that you can’t tear your eyes away from it. 

Airily she would wave her hand and say, ”Margo, if I have to look at your brother's face one more time I shall throw up in that wastebasket over there. Put the fine china out.” 

Does she have the right to complain about her mother’s wishes?

So she put the fine china out and now sits in front of the dishes too fine for her trembling hands. Her brother throws his head back and laughs at another joke that they are all supposed to find amusing. Judging from the look on everyone’s faces no one is as amused as he is. 

So no, they’re not having a good time. 

That’s why the doorbell is comforting. The loud, disturbance causing her mother to jump nearly a foot where she sits at the head of the table. A matriarch to a family that is no longer a family. Yet another destroyed woman holding together a family that has long since been shoved into a garbage disposal.

Margo wouldn’t have come back if the garbage disposal hadn’t done such a good job. 

She waits for a long drawn out second before the stares get to be too obvious. ”I suppose I should get it, hm?”

Although she was raised in this near palace she finds the stairways too full of echoes and the door too heavy too open easily. 

When she sees whose standing at the doorway no lucid thoughts run through her mind. Instead, she leans her weight on the door and falls against it. She would describe it as falling. The man on the other side of the door would describe it as squishing. 

He grunts out breathing out from clenched teeth. ”Are you kidding, Margo?”

”You shouldn’t be here!” 

It’s an easy retort, but not something that really turns him away. His hand is still shut in between the door and door frame. The tips of his fingers are slowly turning purple and while he struggles to get free he also doesn’t try very hard. If he was he wouldn’t be trapped. He would be inside and striding to a place at the dining room table. 

He’s giving her a choice. 

If she was a different person she would choose to keep his hand there. She would keep pressing the door closed until one by one his fingers would pop off. There would be the bones of his fingers sticking out of the door as though a skeleton was trying to force it’s way inside. Except with him, it’s a ghost. 

A ghost of the past is long since hidden by the delicacies of fine china and extravagant meals. 

The urge to pop off his fingers is superseded by the desire to see her mother’s jaw drop delicately to the tiles. 

So she does something that has been specifically forbidden by her mother. 

She lets in Detective Detroit. 

For some reason, he keeps the same slumped shoulders as if he’s delivering rotten news. As if every time he crosses a threshold he has to do it to break families apart. The news differs every time. 

’I’m sorry, ma’am, your son killed his wife.’

’I’m sorry, sir, your daughter has hijacked a car and died during the car chase.’

’I’m sorry to all of you, we found the body you were hoping was alive.’

Pick your poison, Detective Detroit can inject it into your body. He can do with a sympathetic glint of the eye and a heavy hand on your shoulder. Ask him to make it painful and he will deliver it with details you never knew you wanted. Beg him to make it soft and he will comfort you with platitudes you will believe. 

You will either hate him for making you hurt or you will hate yourself for believing his lies. 

They chose to hate him. He isn’t the type to accept hatred easily. Too good of a person to roll over and accept hatred from someone who didn’t implicitly commit a crime. 

”I heard you guys were having dinner.”

”That isn’t a typical rumor to make its way through the grapevine.”

”The Gamal family having it’s first family dinner after….”

He trails off looking sheepishly away. The chandelier catches his eye first and he tips his chin upwards to bask in the warm glow the crystals pretend to emulate. She can’t discern the difference between an underprivileged man reveling in what he was never allowed to be near and an affluent man who appreciates fine commodities. 

When he looks back to her a dusty pink settles over his cheekbones. He looks at the top of his shoes and then back up to her. Her own gaze settles on his shoes trying to figure out the best way to tell him that her mother would have a heart attack if she saw him traipsing through the house with mud caked on the bottom of his soles. 

It seems the best revenge to force him to walk into the dining room in his under-clad socks. 

”Margo!” Her mother's shrill call rings through her spine like a telephone ringing. 

”I’m assuming that’s what you’re here for.” She pauses and decides to be the malevolent person her brother apparently was. ”If you’re going to come with me, don’t wear those shoes.”

She quirks an eyebrow and swivels around. Either the detective will follow or he will scurry back through the front door. Taking his cursed ghost with him.  

She bursts into the dining room retaking her rightful place. It offers her a vantage point worth paying for. 

Her mother sees him first. Standing in the doorway with his hands placidly hanging at his sides. An empty look in his eyes as he stands there surveying the audience that is staring at him. She realizes she’s sacrificed him. The line of malevolent has been tossed aside and she has apparently strode past the line of pitiful. 

The sound of the legs of the chair dragging across the floor is a brutal, screeching sound. Margo stops smiling all of a sudden. What is her mother capable of? She never knew what her brother was capable of. Until it was too late. Did Margo march them straight down the same path of destruction that her brother led them down by the hand?

”Detective. Do you have any more news for our family? Perhaps one of us is a serial killer this time? A rapist? An arms dealer?” Her tone could almost be considered amused, but Margo knows better. 

”Nothing of the sort. I wanted to come to apologize.” It’s sincere enough. 

Margo believes him. Even as she remembers the look of disgust on his face when he reported the deaths her brother had caused. Her mother, on the other hand, does not. As for her brother, she can't quite tell. He’s been stricken with silence no doubt recounting all the times his silence was a mistake. All the times his loud, boisterousness did none of them any good. They had failed in training their little brother. But he takes the failure personally. 

”Your apologies for delivering bad news is not needed.” Their mother turns her nose up with disdain. ”It is of no use.”

Suddenly Detective Detroit’s back straightens and he looks like someone delivering bad news again. Even if he does it without shoes on. 

”I wanted to apologize for the next arrest I’m going to make.” He levels his gaze on Margo’s mother and there’s another knock on the door. 

Margo can only think of how she was the one who let him into the house. 

November 26, 2019 04:03

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