I bought twice as much butter as the recipe called for. Two times as much. I’m not good at math but I know that double is more than enough. Goddamnit. The night is ruined.
“This day is for thanks and giving not bitchin’ and moanin’. I can drive to Albertsons if I could get my damn keys. I’m talking to you M.” I am old, not paralyzed. I can drive to market without seizing up. “Sisley could drive better than you,” Joe said; “ and I’ll bet on it.” “We’d be real lucky if she ever drives. No use in making’ fun of the slow kids Joe. Shouldn’t pick on your own kind,” Lianne said. I can’t tell if she gives a shit about the kid or just wants us to like her. I can drive, I just get confused so it takes longer. There Ain’t no harm in an extra minute to secure your whereabouts, that’s all.
I heard my name. Sisley. Not my name though. Their name for my name. Like mashed potatoes. Like mashed potatoes with no butter. Not real and not good. I get nervous when so many people are in my house. Black cat pees when she’s nervous. Where is black cat? “Where is black cat?” I say. “ I don’t know Sisley. I have to go get butter,” Theresa says. Theresa doesn’t mean to be mad. Meghan makes her mad. Everyone likes butter but nobody likes black cat.
I’m the oldest, I should drive. Technically Theresa ’s had more practice but she also lacks my extra three years of crucial brain development. “Tess will take too much time in Albertsons anyway. She will get caught up in the bright colors and shiny objects. It’s an attention deficit,” I say. “I am clearly right here. Mother, control your daughter.” Theresa responds. “Children turn out awfully disrespectful when they aren’t raised under god. It’s proven by science. I’m talking to you M,” Gamma says. Gamma is a hypocrite but we can’t say it because her “heart is fragile”.
I don’t mind driving. I do mind driving with my family. I mind the most driving with Julia or Mom. The last thing I need is a loud and obstructive object in my passengers seat. I don’t mind my dad because all I feel is a warm stare judging my skill but not bold enough to admit it. “I’ll drive. Gamma can come.” I say. “Where are the damn Keys then.” Gamma groans. “Close your eyes, Virginia.” Dad says. I take the keys from my dad and leave immediately before someone can question my competence. She sinks in the passenger seat, after tossing her cain in the backseat almost costing me my right cornea. Gammas house is on a hill so the first mile is just freely rolling with slight shifts in different directions. No big turns. We pass the farm and then the ponies. Shawn Swanson from the farm began to pass us. I couldn’t decide whether to smile or wave so I floored the gas pedal. “Shit, Tess.” Gamma says. “Sorry I don’t know what happened.” I stammer. “You have a crush,” she giggles. I stop her, “Aren’t you not allowed to cuss. How would the Bible feel about that?” .
The girls never do chores. I say their job is to get good grades and be good people. “You wouldn’t last one day growing up like I did. You don’t even know how to run the dishwasher. I had to work 4 jobs at 12 if I ever wanted a doll or my own-” Julia cuts me off. “Your own toothpaste. Yeah. Yeah. We know.” She is disrespectful. “Watch that mouth.” I say it but I’m bluffing. “M, stop talking crap. Nonna had me married and with child by the time I was your age, Julia. You can’t even take care of Sisley. None of you are traditional ladies and that’s my own fault. My morals aren’t strong enough. I’ve gone soft.” Never will I hear the end of it. My kids and I strayed from the path of our savior. When will we ever recover? In Hell.
Gluten free, Dairy free, sugar free, fat free. “It’s the government trying to weasel their way into your brain. First with the fancy nutrition then all of a sudden there stealing your money for their own gain. That’s why Trump is different. He’s straight to the point. Not one of those corrupt politicians, he’s a businessman” I say. “Yea totally.” Theresa says. I’m glad she sees through her parents’ liberal crap. If her brain is being filled with bullshit opinions from CNN it’s my duty to at least show her the other side of the coin. She’s a smart girl and It’s nice to know the future of our country is on the right side of things.
Sometimes it’s easier to say what others want to hear rather than say what you actually believe. It’s not an issue of whether my morals are strong enough, it’s just, there would be no good in trying to change her when she’s already so set in her ways. What am I supposed to say anyway? Sorry Gamma, you’re wrong and your whole belief system is flawed and based on a misogynistic, prejudice system of bigotry? Unless I wanna drive home with accidental murder charge, I keep my mouth shut.
We arrived home. The rest of the kids are playing basketball in the driveway. Actually I should say, Julia and Roman are playing basketball, Sisley is examining a ladybug a few feet away. A few years ago the doctors told us it would help with her mood swings if she got more exercise. I don’t think autism can be cured by basketball. Sisley spots me and grabs my grocery bag, running it into the house. My mother takes the bag, resentful that we provided the butter. “I had one job,” she says.
We sit for dinner now. It’s around five o’clock. Rain begins to fall. “Drip, drop, drip, drop, drip, drop” Sisley murmurs as she spoons her green beans. “Put that down, we have to say grace,” Gamma says. “No point, let’s just eat” Julia interjects. “Shut it. Our father…” Gamma continues. I zone out from there because I hear an odd tapping sound. It’s faint but I can tell it’s coming from the back of the house. Black cat was the tapping. She is soaked in rain and is shivering violently. Sisley dried her off and we all went back to dinner. We ate for hours. There was no arguing because everyone’s mouths were constantly full.
The potatoes are too buttery.