BEEP BEEP BEEP the microwave alarm sounded as the shower in the bathroom turned off, Angelo McMaster, famous preacher, walked out and dried himself off quickly. The microwave beeped again and he really wished it wouldn’t beep every few seconds as he got dressed and then opened up his laptop. Standing back up he crossed the large hotel room and headed over to the kitchenette where he opened the microwave door and took out his plate. Yes, he thought to himself, he could have easily used the stove, or the single burner cook top he had at this hotel, but the book signing had taken longer than he had thought it would and he was in a hurry to his next appointment. Crossing the room again he inhaled the steam coming off of his three slices of turkey, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce and yams with marshmallows on it. Putting the plate down on the table that it now shared with his laptop he started typing on the keyboard. A little light near the top of the laptop lit up as he opened a program and continued typing, soon he saw himself on the screen, his gray eyes looking back at him. Moments later his laptop gave a soft beep and his picture shrank in half as an older woman and man appeared next to him on screen. They seemed to be in a modest if not slightly older fashioned kitchen complete with yellow wallpaper covered in fruit print, the two people on the screen smiled as the woman waved.
“Hi Anthony,” the woman said, Angelo couldn’t help but chuckle, only his family used his actual name any more.
“Hi Mom, Hi dad,” Angelo responded.
“Do you have your plate dear?”
“Right here,” Angelo and his father, Brandon, responded at the same time, holding them up as they were not sure who Audrey, Angelo’s mother, was referring to when she asked.
“So son,” Brandon started up, planning to strike a conversation as they waited. “Where are you at now?”
“Pittsburgh, last night I did a talk about being thankful at the PPG Paints Arena, the place was sold out easy, it was amazing,” At that moment the screen split again, this time in to thirds as a lady, slightly older than Angelo appeared. It was clear that she was in some sort of apartment, very nicely decorated. From what the camera showed it was clearly obvious she was doing quite well for herself.
“Hi Mom, Hi Dad, Hi little brother,”
“Hi Bella,” Angelo said, followed by her parents.
“How is the tour going?” Bella asked.
“Not bad, exhausting some days though, I’m just thankful I could take some time off and spend it with you guys, speaking of which Bella, thanks for the graphic work, the new stuff is going over great,” Angelo replied.
“Glad I could be of help brother, even though I’m sure once word gets out I did graphic work for the great Angelo McMaster, it will help me way more than I helped you,” Bella said.
“I’m not that great,” said Angelo, slightly embarrassed by his sister. “But enough about me, aren’t we missing somebody?”
“Yeah, where is Brad by the way?” Bella asked, as if on cue the screen split again.
“Right here,” replied the newest entrant, Brad, Angelo’s younger brother. “Hi Mom, Hi Dad, Hello Sis, Hey brother,”
“Hi Brad,” Audrey said.
“Hi Brad,” Brandon replied.
“Hello Brother,” Bella said.
“Hey little bro,” Angelo said shortly after. Audrey and Brandon’s picture seemed to glitch for a moment or two as if something was causing their camera to lag, even to the point the camera actually went off for a few moments. It soon came back on though.
“Sorry about that,” Audrey said.
“Can’t be helped, being out here in the country makes it so we have much slower speeds on the internet than you fancy city folk,” Brandon said, making sure he was using a tone of voice when he mentioned “fancy city folk” that made it clear he was joking with his kids and was not actually upset with the fact that his three kids had moved out of the small town of Tionesta, Pennsylvania and in to bigger areas to pursue the lives that they had wanted.
“You know you two are more than welcome to use my place, I am barely in it any more now that I am on the road so much,” said Angelo.
“No No,” said Brandon “We are quite happy here, but again, thank you for the offer son,” he added
“Now then,” said Audrey “Does everybody have their plates?” she asked.
“Yes Mom,” said Angelo, Bella and Brad as they raised their plates.
“Yes dear,” said Brandon.
“I can see you do you silly,” Audrey said as she chuckled at her husband’s silliness. She then looked at the camera. “Okay then, she added. “Whenever you are ready Anthony,” Angelo knew what she meant, long before this had started, before the speaking engagements, before the books, before the fame, because of the path he had gone down he had been put in charge of the Thanksgiving prayers, and despite the fact that this year people were everywhere, it seemed that would be the one thing that would not change.
“Please bow your heads,” Anthony said. One by one his family did so. “Dear heavenly father, we thank you for our time together, even if it is not under the most normal of circumstances, we thank you for the trials this year as well as the blessings we have been given. We thank you for the food we are about to receive and may it give us the strength to continue to your will, we pray this in your name, Amen,”
“Amen, the rest of the family said, and with that, they began to eat. As they ate their plates Angelo thought once again of the path he had taken, the roads he had walked down, and knew that even though they were miles apart from each other, his family would always be with him in spirit.
And for that, he silently thanked God.
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Hello Sam! I'm checking out your story as part of the Critique Circle. The good stuff: - I liked the pinhole look at what could be an average Thanksgiving in the era of COVID. I think our accounts of things will be important one day, if only for the cultural changes that will unfold for the next, well, forever. - The repetition of the statements and the dialogue works to create a worn-in tone--which is interesting! Unless this is not the first Thanksgiving they have done this this way. - By way of syntax and punctuation, your dialogue ...
Hi! I'm stopping in from the Critique Circle this week! So...here's my critique :) First of all...Tionesta!! What a lovely little town!! (what are the odds, right? I used to have family in Clarion...) It's hard to critique this story. I very much enjoyed it, but it felt...lacking. I read your other works, and it seems that you have a strong basis in theology. So while the story is tidy and fits the prompt well, it's cluttered with descriptions of actions; Angelo preparing his meal, the family logging into Zoom...almost as if you...
Such a nice Thanksgiving story, With so many of us apart, it is so nice that we have the technology to bring the family together and share the glory of God together.