DianA Ferraro
We drove to your brother’s place, carrying your coleslaw and my sweets, those we knew in advance they wouldn’t like because they don’t eat foreign things unless you explain to them exactly how they were cooked, which were the ingredients and if Nicaragua has a public health control worth the name. They were all there, we were late. Nobody would have dared to miss Thanksgiving; maybe Christmas, but not Thanksgiving, you said once, when we first met and I wasn’t invited, because it was a family thing. The bowl with the salad was leaking. 

            You went to the kitchen, without even removing your parka; I had time to take off my coat, the red one you don’t like and, because you smelled of vodka, they gave me a nasty look as if you were my son and I had to take care of you. Then, while you were coming back from the kitchen with your sister-in- law, your pious brother said it was time and we circled the table, hand in hand, and he prayed. Your father was there, and his new wife who didn’t like your hippie look and less my dark skin. Three other couples were there, young people: your father’s wife's children with their wives and your nephew and his fiancée, polite kids who wouldn’t argue your sudden praise of the Nicaraguan revolution I refused to approve. Someone brought the side dishes and the turkey and, if I may say it now, everything looked kind of mean. A poor, Spartan, ascetic meal, a truly Christian house, you had explained, sneering your cheap brother, the first time I was admitted because, yes, I had become your legal wife. No American woman would have ever married you, they only liked jerks, you had said at that time, and I felt proud of being the one, better than them. 

            Your father said, dig in, and you laughed because on top of the vodka you had smoked some pot, but that nobody could smell. You took several spoonfuls of peas, and you said you would thank God for answering your prayers, your dead mother had been admitted in to heaven and she came often home to see you and get news from the family. Nobody listened to you, and your nephew started a conversation on school games which nobody, not even your brother, his father or his contemporaries across the table, would follow. 

          Someone praised the stuffing, and the gravy poured over the mashed potatoes, and your sister-in-law blushed, not because of the compliment but because you looked at her in one of those ways and she thought everybody had noticed. Your brother went to the kitchen and brought a new bowl with corn and sprouts, and he insisted, dig in, what we all did because we were all hungry, including you, by that time on your third serving of turkey , vegetables, and your own coleslaw, still carrying drops of blood of your finger, cut with a knife while you were complaining that I was a bitch who didn’t love you as I did when we met, when I was dazzled by your smile and that twinkle in your eyes. 

          Dig in, said your father’s wife, holding the coleslaw bowl. Dinner went on. Dig in, I heard each time a plate was passed. Dig in, they said when the ice dream was served with the apple and pumpkin pies. No room for my sweets, and your sister-in-law said maybe later, maybe tomorrow. Someone offered some tea, and you said you would get me some coffee and you followed your sister-in-law to the kitchen. You were there for a while and as my coffee was taking too long, I went to the kitchen myself, and neither of you were there. It was already dark, and had I not opened the lace curtains, I wouldn't have seen you on one side of the back porch, kissing her. 

          I went back to the living room. They were again talking about games, in the same boring way. I opened one of the box of sweets which was lying on a side table, the cellophane was noisy, and everybody interrupted the talk about the games to ask about the yellow box and the sweets, what were they made from, and how they were cooked, and how strict was the public health administration in Nicaragua. Dig in, I said, offering the open box of tiny chocolates without a wrap, mixed up with almonds and candies. They refused, they had eaten too much. Thanksgiving days have that thing of gluttony, almost a sin, said your father because he thought I should forgive them. Your brother is fucking your wife in the back yard, I said, and your brother looked at me, because he wasn’t sure I knew the meaning of the words I had said, since my English was always imperfect. As I was quiet he stood up, not too sure if he had to stay or go, and your father changed the subject and asked for my sweets, saying that it might be a sin to eat that much, but the Lord would forgive if they were as good as they looked. You father’s wife smiled at me, encouraging me, and I held again the box for him across the table. 

            We were all eating Nicaraguan chocolates when you came back with her, your noses had reddened because of the cold. That was our last Thanksgiving together. I am wondering if this year you are still driving to your brother’s place, if you all still make the circle of prayers, if you still fuck your sister-in-law, if your brother still digs into the bowl of peas as if nothing had happened, only that you had divorced that poor woman who was not one of yours.

Diana Ferraro is a bilingual Argentine author with three novels, two novellas, and three short story collections published in Spanish, and with a collection of short stories in English, “The Map of Solitude,” and a novel, “The French Lesson,” not yet published. For a decade she spent many months out of the year in Richmond, Virginia. Some of her stories have been published or are forthcoming at Foundling Review, Danse Macabre, Palabra Literary Magazine, Ink-Filled Page, and Midwest Literary Magazine.


Fiction:  Dig In