NaNoWriMo Day 21, Soup’s Off

soup's off cover

Observations: I am never doing this again. I swear! If I even act like I’m going to do it next year…someone who is currently reading this (if I haven’t put you all to sleep), please remind me.

Just say: Hey, Sasch, remember last year when you went bald in that one spot from pulling your hair out?

I will nod, which you won’t see unless you have a webcam in my house or have hijacked my computer (first and last: creepy) and say, thank you for reminding me and stopping a train wreck! 😉

Addendum: This happens almost every time. Just before I’m about to post, I start reading through, and then start adding and then go back to Word to revise some more then end up with almost 500-800 more words. Ha….then copy it back in…revise the word count….

Disclaimer: I’m not even gonna.

Total word count: 36,553

all of the words on the road to Oz behind…whatever that means.

You can read previous sections here. (I dare you …hahaha :D)


Chapter Thirteen

Happy, Happy Thanksgiving To Me!

 

For the past four years every Thanksgiving my contribution has been…can you guess? Soup! A ying-yang presentation of cream of chestnut and cream of pumpkin with a drizzle of chopped chestnuts and cilantro on the cream of chestnut and candied pecan and finely diced chilies and scallions on the pumpkin. I always take pride in it. It’s one of my best creations, so flavorful and so autumnal, and something I’ve yet to offer on the menu at Soup’s On, although I’ve been considering it.

I am just putting the soup in containers, singing along to Frank Sinatra singing “The Christmas Song,” because, let’s face it, I love Christmas music, while I’m not fond of Christmas popping up in the stores in September, I can never get enough of Christmas music, when my cell rings, blaring Mom’s favorite Pearl Jam tune, “Even Flow,” which sounds discordant against Frank Sinatra.

She must want me to go by the shop on my way there to pick up something last minute, although what it could be, I can’t imagine. Between her, Gran, Aunt Lea, and Amy, they are always prepared.

“It’s Mom.”

I am about to offer my sarcastic response or at least a “duh” but something, perhaps her strange tone, tells me to be quiet.

“Happy Thanksgiving,” I offer instead, and then something tells me I might be jumping the gun.

She’s quiet a moment. My mom searching for words to say. This can’t be good. My mom never has a problem talking or voicing her opinion. Life lately is like waiting for the other shoe to drop, big combat boots in this case.

“Spit it out, Mom.”

She sighs. “We’re having issues with Isla. It’s not good. We may have to call in some outside help.”

“No, that doesn’t sound good.” I thought Mom and Gran could handle anything and everything. Of course, that was before I found out we were witches, the big reveal. And then I realize what this call is about. “She still thinks I’m a traitor and doesn’t want to be around me.”

“Yeah. She’s going kind of nuts about it. We found her trying to make a doll replica of you to poke pins in,” Mom says her Georgia drawl stronger than usual. “Listen, kitten, I don’t know what to say. We have to keep an eye on her. She has to be here where there are enough people to watch her. You understand that the way she is right now, we can’t risk her doing something really bad. Or that something really bad could happen to her with that witch slayer in town. And, geez, I hate to say this, but things could escalate with you here…”

“So, I shouldn’t come.”

“Oh, Soph, I’m so sorry. You don’t know how upset I am. We’ve all, geez, all of us have always been together for Thanksgiving. We’re going to miss you like anything,” she says, and then hesitates, and I know there’s more, but I can’t imagine what.

I hear the sound of a spoon banging on the side of a pot, imagine that she’s making gravy with mushrooms. “Your dad came home today for a few days on leave.”

And now tears well in my eyes. My dad is an Army major and has been in Afghanistan off and on for years. I haven’t seen him in ten months. To know that he is going to be there for Thanksgiving and I’m not pierces my heart. This all is becoming a freaking nightmare.

“You still there?” Mom asks after a minute.

I shake my head, feeling my emotions rise. What are they? Anger? Frustration? Bitterness? Sadness? Maybe all of them put together in one little angsty ball.

“Can I talk to him at least?”

Mom’s quiet again. “I’m sorry, Soph. He’s taking a nap. He’s been traveling for about 20 hours.”

“Okay.”

“You’re going to be alright?”

I laugh, but it’s not happy and I don’t feel happy. I want to see my dad and I’m more than slightly mad at Isla and her tantrum. And maybe slightly mad at Mom and Gran for waiting so long for the great reveal. It’s felt very costly. There are so many things that could have been different.

A part of me imagines the wonderful evening they’re going to have, the evening we’ve all shared, at the long table, me with my host of vegetables while they eat turkey and ham and then after dinner in front of the stone fireplace sipping one of Gran’s alcoholic concoctions. Regardless of how often I pretend to be embarrassed by hokey traditions, I love them. I wait all year for them, especially Thanksgiving.

“Of course, I’ll be fine. Nikki’s mom will always put a place on the table for me, especially since I’ll be bringing soup.”

“About that…”

Peevishly, I hang up on my mom because I’m not feeling happy and I am not going to drop the soup by just because they don’t have a soup, which has always been the first course on our Thanksgiving. My soup made with love. Just maybe that’s why we always had lovely Thanksgivings without any bad feelings.

Gawd, I have bad feelings right now about being ousted from the family function because nothing that is my fault. I’m aware that Moira is watching me from her perch on the window loveseat. Oddly, she doesn’t say anything. How unlike Moira!

Now, I feel sad and consider just staying here with Moira, yanking a tofurkey something out of the freezer, and maybe watching Hallmark Christmas romances and then eating chocolate covered almonds until I’m sick as well as depressed, but that just sounds like an awful pity party so I hit the speed dial for Nikki.

“Yo, Sophie! Happy Thanksgiving! Looking sexy as always?” Nikki’s little brother Daniel must have grabbed her phone.

“Stop that you pervert. She’s old enough to be your mother,” Nikki says.

Well, hopefully not. I think there must only be twelve years between Nikki and me and her youngest brother.

“Yo, Sophie doesn’t mind. You chicks when you get to be a certain age and are unmarried and have no manly attention need to know that you’re still beautiful even if your shelf-life is expiring.”

Nice. I am beginning to reconsider inviting myself to dinner.

“Hey, sorry about that. He’s becoming, well, I don’t know what he’s becoming. A boy, I guess. Are you okay?” Nikki asks.

I tap the lid on the tupperware soup container. “I’ve been disinvited from my family’s Thanksgiving.”

“What? Oh, no! Why?”

I offer a mealy-mouthed excuse knowing that I am going to have to explain things to Nikki sooner rather than later. I’m hoping that Nikki doesn’t try to puzzle out or ask how all of my family could be sick, except for me. What kind of excuse could I offer that would make sense? I’ve just got to tell her what my sisters and I, well, the whole family sans Dad, is tonight when I see her. Perhaps I’ve learned a lesson from the great reveal debacle.

“So I was wondering if I could join you all…”

“Err, we ate a couple of hours ago. We always do Thanksgiving as an afternoon thing. Play touch football. Watch football. Eat many course until we’re stuffed and have to change into sweat pants. But you can come over and watch ‘While You Were Sleeping’ with us. It’s our Thanksgiving movie. And we probably have some leftover pie of some kind. Probably Aunt Elena’s sweet potato cream. It’s kind of strange,” Nikki says, her voice drifting off.

I’m beginning to feel another onslaught of self-pity come on. “Thanks. I appreciate the offer. I think maybe I’ll go into to town to Smokey Dave’s…”

“You want me to meet you there?” she asks.

Such a good friend. I know, however, that she likes to spend time with her younger siblings, Kyle and Jasmine, who are home from college. She’s been talking about it for weeks. They have the close family that I thought I had. Okay, more self-pity. What a deluge!

“No. I’m good. Really.”

And that’s how Moira and I find ourselves at Smokey Dave’s, with about five other people, all drinking beer and staring disinterestedly at a football game on Thanksgiving evening. Moira sits up on the benchseat opposite me.

“Don’t start getting pathetic on me,” Moira says. “I don’t do sympathy for perfectly functioning adult humans.”

“I’m perfectly functioning? That might be a compliment.”

“Heh. Right? In your case it would be if it were true.”

I raise an eyebrow at Moira. “Thanks. You know I can look into getting another familiar, right?”

“Won’t do better than me. You could get one of those stingy cats who show up sometimes and then do just what they want the other times. Me, I’m with you.”

Nooma, our waitress who used to be called Susie when we went to school together and before she went to New York City for art school, appears at the table, looking bored and unpleasant. Nothing has changed with Susie, I see.

She glances at me. “Let me guess: veggie burger dripping in the medium hot sauce with garlic mashed potatoes because the French fries are cooked in the same oil as chicken, and kale without bacon. The dog wants the turkey special with no peas.”

“I love me the peas. Where’s she get off trying to deny me peas?” Moira asks, harrumphing, which I didn’t know she could do.

I grin. “The dog will have the turkey special with peas.”

“Okay. It’s nothing off my nose if she doesn’t end up eating the peas.”

Moira waits until Nooma is out of earshot, not that it matters because Nooma can’t hear her anyway, but Moira likes to be careful, especially with someone so obviously different as Nooma. You just never can tell.

“Why would someone with an uncomfortable looking nose ring, say ‘nothing off my nose?’ Is that the fear of someone who thinks their disgusting nose ring will be taken from them? Do you know how often those things get infected?”

I shrug. “I’d rather not think about nose infections.”

Ted the bartender is telling Joe Watson how to make the perfect martini while Joe keeps saying he likes his gin neat. Ted is telling him the virtues of a good dirty martini.

Moira cocks her head. “I’m so excited. I haven’t had turkey dinner in a long time. Do you think they’ll bring stuffing? I love me the stuffing. Hate cranberries, even if they say they’re good for you, and even me.”

Moira looks happy. Happy is good. It’s something we’ve been in short supply of lately. Especially me…except when I think of Anton, and then things just get complicated and that eases away the joy of the happy kisses or making out sessions. Ha, making out session, like we were sixteen-year olds at Gossamer Point.

“I can always tell when you start thinking about the witch slayer.”

I raise an eyebrow.

“Your express goes gooey,” she says, nodding at me. “I think he’s okay though.”

“Your readings on him haven’t exactly been reliable.”

She does her doggie shrug. “His fault. He sends off mixed messages. I think it’s because of you. He doesn’t know what to make of you.”

Hmmm. Good to know. Not. That’s not helpful. I take a sip of water while Moira dives for the bowl Nooma set on her seat, because deep down, Nooma is a good person.

When Moira looks up with a few water droplets clinging to her mouth, she say, “I like him.”

Me too. Which just makes life so complicated with tonight being the case in point. Not being able to spend the holiday with my family because my little sister thinks I’m a traitor because I kiss a good looking, extremely well-built Swedish man? Crazy train.

“It’s more than that,” Moira says, once again invading my thoughts. “Isla’s been mad at you a long time.”

I lean on the table. “See this is what I don’t understand. Why was she jealous of my soups?”

“Because you’re incredibly gifted.” A male voice, slightly accented, answers.

I look up and Anton is standing there, dressed in a black t-shirt, worn blue jeans, and a leather jacket. Why does he have to be so attractive?

“Are you reading my thoughts too?”

He shakes your head. “You do know that you’re not always careful about thinking your thoughts and you end up saying them out loud to your familiar?”

Crap. This is true. I glance around to see if anyone else noticed me talking to Moira. No one is looking this way. I thought I was thinking and not talking. I glare at Moira. You’d think she would at least tell me when I’m doing things that would look looney to the rest of the world.

Moira opens her mouth in a grin. “I take my pleasure where I can.”

“May I sit?” Anton asks.

I nod, and he slides into the booth next to me and this feels very similar to a week or so ago, which didn’t end well.

“This is Thanksgiving, am I right?”

I nod. Thanks for reminding me.

“I thought this was very big family time and you have a very big family,” he says.

“My sister, Isla, is having some issues…with me.”

Nooma approaches the table, eyes Anton with appreciation before looking at me. “Dave says you’ll have to take the food to go because of the dog. He says it’s a health code violation.”

I shrug my shoulders. “Okay, please pack it up to go. Thanks, Su…Nooma.”

She turns her heavily kohl-outlined eyes to Anton. “Are you staying or you going with her?”

“I’m going with her,” he says and then gives Nooma his order.

“That’s pretty presumptuous,” I say after Nooma walks away. “How do you know that I want you to join me for dinner?”

He grins completely without arrogance or conceit. It’s a nice grin. His blue eyes seem warmer, taking on a darker color, making them look like lapis lazuli.

“You don’t really want to be by yourself, do you? On Thanksgiving? Even a witch slayer has to be better than no one.”

Probably not just any witch slayer, I think. One that looks like you. Talks like you. Make my body react like you.

“Love how he just thinks I’m no one. I might have to readjust my opinion of him,” Moira says.

I smirk.

“I may have to figure out how to hear your familiar. I think she might be funny,” he says.

“He doesn’t know the half of it.”


end of Day 21

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