45 comments

Funny Holiday

“There he is! Come in here, big guy!” My father throws me into a headlock hug, causing me to drop a duffle bag full of filthy laundry. It's too cold out to snow and we quickly retreat inside.

“Hey Mom!” I call out. “Mom?” The smells emanating from the kitchen trigger every one of my salivary glands. 

“Mark—?” My mother walks out of the kitchen, drying her hands on a festive Thanksgiving dish towel. She gives me a hug that may have cracked a few ribs. “Oh Mark—you’ve lost weight. In just four months? What are they feeding you at that college of yours? We are just about ready to eat. Did you hit traffic? Go and wash up. Since Chloe took over your room, we’ve made up a bed for you in the basement.”

“So, how’s the college life, son? You know when I—”

“Honey, go tell the twins to come down and help set the table. Mark, bring up some ginger ale from the downstairs fridge, will you?” My mother pulls an about-face and returns back into the kitchen. 

Leaving the warmth of the main floor, I plod down the wooden stairs to the basement. Still gray. Still damp. Still cold. I drop the laundry, bag and all, in front of the washing machine. Knowing my mother, it will be washed, dried, folded, and neatly stacked by morning. At the far end of the basement lay my father’s Man Cave, replete with half-started projects including an abandoned beer brewing kit and home repair projects in various states of disrepair.

Almost immediately behind me comes the passive-aggressive barefoot stomps of an adolescent coming down the stairs.

“What’s up,” Chloe mumbles, words muffled by a new mouth full of braces.

“How’s my room?” I ask.

“It’s my room now,” she bleats in the tone of a perpetually pissed off 8th grader. She grabs the ginger ale out of the fridge.

“I was going to get that for Mom—” I say.

“You were going to do a lot of things,” she replies.

“Did you move my stuff from the bedroom closet?” I ask.

Did you move my stuff from the bedroom closet?” She actually imitates me. “Of course I did. It’s my room. All your crap is down here somewhere.” 

“Where?”

“What do you mean, where? Those garbage bags in the corner,” Chloe rolls her eyes and pounds back up the stairs. 

“Mark—?” I hear my mother holler from the main floor. “We are almost ready to eat!” 

“Okay!” I yell back. I quickly move the third cinder block by the bathroom door to check on the rest of my summer stash—anticipating the need for altering my state of consciousness after a day or two back home. The grinder, rolling paper, lighter, and eighth all await me for when I need it. 

I skip up the basement stairs—two at a time—and walk into the dining room. My father is already tucked in at the head of the table, poised to operate on a golden brown turkey with oversized carving knives. 

“Plenty enough to share!” he says. “This looks marvelous, dear. I was thinking—”

“Don’t mangle the poor bird like you did last year, for God’s sake,” my mother barks. “Chloe, where is your sister? Claire? Claire?!” My mother calls up the stairs to the even warmer second floor. “We. Are. Ready. To. Eat. Claire?!” 

“I don’t answer to the name Claire!” 

“Well, whoever you are up there, it’s time to eat!” my mother yells even louder. 

Another pair of angry, purposeful footsteps descend the stairs. I am surprised to see my other sister transformed by a severe asymmetrical haircut, unusual choice of hair color, and makeup plastered on only one side of her face. 

My father has busied himself with dismembering poultry. “Who wants a wing? I could—” 

“Mark—? Would you please pour ice water for everyone?” my mother interrupts. “I do have ginger ale somewhere. Chloe? Where did you put the ginger ale?” She scrambles back into the kitchen. 

“What name should I call you?” I ask Claire, diplomatically. 

“I am a-gender,” she states flatly, mouth pooched out with her own set of new braces.

“Your name is Agender?” I clarify, holding my hands up in a gesture of peace and goodwill.

“Onyx. My name is Onyx.” 

“Fine, Onyx. Pass the potatoes.”

“I think we need to—” my father attempts to speak again.

“Here we are!” My mother calls out cheerily and reenters the dining room, holding the ginger ale and a bowl of roasted Brussels sprouts that no one will eat. “Don’t start until we say grace.”

“I don’t believe in God,” Chloe says casually, lobbing a verbal hand grenade.

“Well, God believes in you,” my mother replies, swatting her snark away. “Bless us Lord for these thy gifts that we're about to receive from thy bounty through Christ our Lord, Amen.”

“Amen!” joins my father, smiling as he passes the platter of turkey.

“I don’t eat meat, Dad,” Onyx says. “Meat is murder.”

“I don’t eat anything with a face,” Chloe says, while slathering butter on her roll. 

“So, no turkey for you?” I ask. 

“It’s a holiday, so it’s okay,” Chloe says, taking one of the oversized drumsticks. 

“Well, another year to be grateful for,” my father says. “You know what we should—”

“Let’s hope,” my mother interjects, “that next year will be just as bountiful.” She gives my father a pointed look. 

“What do you mean—?” he asks warily. 

“I ran into Joyce this morning,” she says, noisily spooning stuffing onto her plate. “Joyce told me about the probable merger. Not possible merger. Probable.”

“Nothing is set in stone, in fact—”

“I know what that means. I had a career before all of these children,” she motions to the three of us, flooding us with a small tide of both guilt and resentment. “If you are downsized, how are we going to pay the mortgage, the orthodontist? For Mark’s college? For the girls’ college?”

Girls’ college? I am a-gender!” Onyx flings her fork down and abruptly leaves the table. There are heavy stomps up the stairs to the second floor. A door slams. 

“Pass the rolls, Chloe,” I ask. 

Pass the rolls, Chloe. Where’s my stuff, Chloe. How’s my room, Chloe.” She mimics me again. “You can’t just come home and start ordering people around, Mark.” She is now punctuating her sentences with my name, Mark. “So typical of you, Mark. Part of the patriarchy and I am sick of it, Mark. I’m sick of you all!” Chloe flounces out of the dining room. Another set of heavy stomps up the stairs to the second floor. Another door slams. 

My father looks up from his plate. “Well, it’s obvious that—”

“What’s obvious, dear? That financial insecurity is destabilizing this home?”

“We have—”

“Have you considered all that we can lose?” My mother’s voice is shrill.

Without a word, my father gets up and leaves the table. He takes the basement stairs down to his lair, a place where he is wholly uninterrupted. 

My mother and I sit in our places at the dining room table. She pushes a cold Thanksgiving’s Day dinner around with her fork. I’m starving, so I reload my plate again in her heavy silence. 

“The potatoes are great, Mom.” 

“Thanks, Mark,” she whispers. She buries her face in her festive Thanksgiving Day napkin, gets up, and slowly heads into the kitchen.

I finish the entire bowl of potatoes. 

Afterwards, I head down to the basement as a winter sun sets, bringing in even colder air. I go directly to the third cinder block by the bathroom door. 

My stash is gone.

As I look around, I notice the light is on in my father’s Man Cave. I walk over and lightly knock on the door.

“Hey, Dad?”

“Come in here, big guy.” I open the door to see my father artfully packing a joint. With great delight, he lights it and inhales deeply. I sit on an unused beer keg and watch him exhale after a bit. 

“Looks like you’ve found something for dessert, Dad.”

“Plenty enough to share,” he smiles. 


August 16, 2020 16:25

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45 comments

Doubra Akika
09:04 Aug 25, 2020

D&D! This is so amazing! Your writing is so wonderful! It's like when I start, I can't stop. The dialogue was amazing and funny! All the interruptions! Sounds like my family. The angry teenager bit was awesome. The mimicking bit too! Your characters were all awesome anyway. The ending was great, really. I loved this! Hope you're staying safe!

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Deidra Lovegren
11:09 Aug 25, 2020

D&D! What would I do without you! Thanks for your continued support. Happy writing! Love you......

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Doubra Akika
11:11 Aug 25, 2020

What would I do without you too! My pleasure! Love you too...

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Jonathan Blaauw
16:33 Aug 20, 2020

Wow! Glad to see you're not a one hit wonder. Just a general wonder, then. Are really are because this was so good. How can footsteps be passive aggressive? They can't... but they can! That was clever and funny as well. And the portrayal of the family issues is so engaging. The mom's almost manic questions from the start ground her character brilliantly in the readers mind. And the girls? I have a younger sister and I'd say you got the angry teenager bit down perfectly. Deciding how to end this must have been tricky and a wrong step would'...

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Deidra Lovegren
16:53 Aug 20, 2020

Fuck it, Jonathan. Let's get high.

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Jonathan Blaauw
06:14 Aug 21, 2020

To any kids watching - this is what an inspirational quote looks like!

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17:57 Aug 16, 2020

Oh wow. This was INTERESTING. I admit I was confused at first, but then it turned into some kind of family emotional breakdown and adolescent shenanigans! (LOL😂). The annoyingness.... I have just one question Dei, what's agender? Overall, Nice storyyyy. (P.S would you mind reading my recent, "Sister.." and commenting? THANKS!)

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Deidra Lovegren
19:05 Aug 16, 2020

This story is a hot mess, but you can't win them all. :) agender - denoting or relating to a person who does not identify themselves as having a particular gender.

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20:01 Aug 16, 2020

HAHA. and ohhhh, thanks for the info

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Deidra Lovegren
19:05 Aug 16, 2020

I'm heading over to read SISTER ;)

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20:00 Aug 16, 2020

YAY! :D

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16:12 Sep 09, 2020

Find a way to capture a prompt that is spot on and filled with creativity? - Done! This was great Deidra!

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Deidra Lovegren
17:41 Sep 09, 2020

Thanks, Khadine :) I appreciate the moral support YAY

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Jeremy Fagan
00:26 Aug 24, 2020

This was wonderfully rich and well done. I really enjoyed the whole picture. It reminded me of my family. And my dad...

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Deidra Lovegren
00:40 Aug 24, 2020

Dads are usually overlooked and very long suffering 😛

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Sayani Sarkar
19:32 Aug 22, 2020

I found this story really funny even though there wasn't any explicit humor in it. It's really nice!

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Deidra Lovegren
22:23 Aug 22, 2020

Thank you?

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Bianka Nova
17:27 Aug 22, 2020

Superb writing and dialogue! Just a fun sidenote - I don't know if we've caught the same brain frequency or what, but despite the fact that the story I submitted this week has nothing to do with yours, it seems as if we both wrote to the Prompt "Write a short story with twins in it and a character named Chloe" XD

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Deidra Lovegren
18:04 Aug 22, 2020

Actually we are the same person. Nice to meet me. :)

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Bianka Nova
18:15 Aug 22, 2020

Haha, so does this mean I've already won a contest? ;) So flattering.

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Velma Darnell
13:19 Aug 22, 2020

A great story here, Deidra! You've described family issues very well, and I loved the ending. Dad just admitted that he couldn't solve those problems and decided that his son should know his little secret. Also, the way his sister continued mentioning that it was her bedroom truly depicted teenage stubbornness. Keep writing :) p.s. I was wondering if you could check out my story "Hi, darling" when you have time and tell me what you think? Thanks!

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Deidra Lovegren
13:26 Aug 22, 2020

Of course! Thanks for your comment. Sometimes nature provides a remedy for familial strife :)

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Elliot Chapman
21:56 Aug 19, 2020

Really enjoyed this! Loved the agender representation ❤️

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Deidra Lovegren
00:52 Aug 21, 2020

Yep. Room for everyone 😀

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Laura Clark
07:43 Aug 19, 2020

A great read, as always. I was a little concerned about the way you presented the teenager with issues around how their family responded to their gender. It came off is a little bit of a stereotype. That said, I’ve interacted with teenage girls. Some of them are absolutely like that. The way that his sister was interacting with him about moving him out of her bedroom was perfect sibling bitchiness. I think anyone with siblings can relate to that! This very much felt like a typical family gathering. The chaos is strong and everybody seems ...

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Deidra Lovegren
09:38 Aug 19, 2020

Always appreciate your insightful comments. I sincerely hope I didn’t offend on gender issues 😔 as I know many who deal with this issue. Adolescence is just plain hard. Hopefully the love came through, as all families are imperfect. But we try ❤️

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Laura Clark
09:46 Aug 19, 2020

It did 🙂 You didn’t offend - I was just a bit wary because NB or agender people are often portrayed as attention seeking or irrational but it came across that this was much more because they are a teenager than anything else. I remember being a teenager and being so angry about everything and convinced that the world was out to get me. Adulthood does offer some perspective on that!

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Deidra Lovegren
13:31 Aug 19, 2020

True, when we are adults, we KNOW the world is out to get us. (haha)

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Laura Clark
13:39 Aug 19, 2020

I was thinking that!

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02:30 Aug 19, 2020

Chaotic and fast at that. What a lovely story. I am interested in the process, do you edit like a maniac or write like crazy?

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Deidra Lovegren
09:21 Aug 19, 2020

I pray to the Greek muses and then wait for inspiration. Then I sacrifice a pigeon or two.

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05:26 Aug 20, 2020

Haha, I should have guessed it. Be careful, no blood should be spilled.

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Deidra Lovegren
05:58 Aug 20, 2020

Ugh, so that’s the problem, oh well

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Len Mooring
22:55 Aug 18, 2020

You're a natural, Deidra. Superb writing skills that make it seem so easy.

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Deidra Lovegren
23:11 Aug 18, 2020

🥔

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Deidra Lovegren
23:12 Aug 18, 2020

Don’t make me fall in love with you, Len. I’m a heartbreaker. Mainly my own, but still...

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Becky Katsaros
22:11 Aug 17, 2020

Excellent dialogue. You created chaos while keeping everything moving forward. Great writing.

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Deidra Lovegren
22:41 Aug 17, 2020

Thanks, Becky 🦃 🥔 🥦 🥧

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14:33 Aug 17, 2020

Good job on that one. Love how you have painted this dysfunctional family and the way the father is constantly interrupted. Can't stand the twins too , I would gladly tear the words apart and slap them. Keep writing.

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Deidra Lovegren
15:02 Aug 17, 2020

Those twins are every 8th grade girl in the entire world. Hahaha 😂

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Kylie Rudolf
17:42 Oct 19, 2020

So much like my mother! This is basically what thanksgiving is like with family!

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Deidra Lovegren
19:32 Oct 19, 2020

This is basically what Thanksgiving is with EVERY family. Crazy mom with high expectations Dismal dad wondering where his youth went Ungrateful children who complain about everything It's a holly jolly holiday :)

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Keerththan 😀
10:29 Aug 31, 2020

Wow!!!!!!! Amazing story. Couldn't stop reading. Great job. Would you mind reading my new story "The adventurous tragedy?"

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Black Rose
13:28 Feb 13, 2021

I like it. What a funny story love it.

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The Cold Ice
16:01 Aug 26, 2020

Hilarious story.I enjoyed the story.Great job👍keep it up. Would you mind to read my story “The dragon warrior?”

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