There were a couple of the prompts this week on MOTE that had potential but it was the header image that finally drew my attention. I swiped it to use as my own header. I may go back at a late date and work on those other stories.
Years ago my mother had a wooden bowl with what most people call Indian Corn. Seeing the image brought back memories.
Shortly after my mother died I moved into an apartment and spent the holidays alone. Spending Thanksgiving and Christmas alone is depressing.
Robin stared out the back door of her new home sipping at her coffee. The rain fit her mood. Thanksgiving had never been a “normal” family holiday for the Yokamas. Dad was usually on duty so any meals had to be worked in around his schedule. And turkey was so far beyond what Adrian could cook that they usually had ham or something equally as simple. The only time they’d had turkey was when they did that heat and eat dinner from the grocery store – it hadn’t quite turned out the way she’d expected. Now that Rhea was also in law enforcement, gatherings had become difficult. But they’d made it work last few years.
This year … Rhea was on duty, working a 12-hour shift, and Dad was gone.
John was having dinner with his daughter. He hadn’t asked if she wanted to come over, and she hadn’t expected an invitation. Their relationship was changing now that Robin was no longer his student, but neither seemed sure of which way it was going.
While there were a few places open, she didn’t feel like going out. It just felt weird to sit down in a restaurant by herself. So she was alone on a day that was supposed to be about family.
Robin pushed off from the door with a sigh and turned to look around the kitchen area. She had picked up a Cornish Game hen and some sides, but she really didn’t feel like cooking. Quite frankly she’d just as soon have gone into the office, but Mr. Thomas had insisted that the office was closed. Period. Take a day off. Do not come in.
She sat the coffee down, grabed the phone and dialed a number from memory as she flopped on the couch. The line was answered by the second ring. “Chi-wa, Neesan.”
“Robin.” There was a chuckle to Rhea’s voice. “I was getting ready to call you.”
“Just thought I’d see how you were doing. Everyone behaving themselves so far?” Robin glanced up at the photo of Rhea’s graduation sitting on her mantel.
“Yeah, only a few people out and about right now. Most folks are either get ready to eat or watching the game.”
“You get something?”
“Yeah, yeah, one of the guys brought in a party tray with all kinds of holiday eats. Everyone is popping in to the station to grab a plate. How ‘bout you? Denny’s is open if you want to drive out.”
“I’m good. I got some chicken.” In the background she could hear the radio. ‘Robert 55’.
“Go on,” Robin laughed. “You got work to do. I’m cool.”
“Alright. Call me if you want to do Denny’s.”
“Robert 55,” the radio demanded an answer.
“I will, go before Dispatch gets pissy.”
“I’ll yak at ya later. 55 go.” Rhea was answering her radio before the line disconnected.
Robin hung up the phone and stared up at the ceiling. She knew she should probably call her grandparents, but they were two hours behind her. Gram would be right in the middle of cooking. Her cell phone buzzed on the end table. A text message from Star in Alaska: “Hi. Happy Turkey day. How u b?”
It was pointless to tell Star that she was fine. Even by text she knew Robin’s state of mind.
“Ok. Trying 2 decide between rice & stuff 4 bird.”
“Bird? U got turkey?”
“No. chicken. U on duty?”
“Y. Have turkey lunch after.”
“Good. Don’t 4get 2 call ‘rents.”
“As if. Lt back, call u later.”
Robin went back to staring at the ceiling. It was too wet to go for a walk in the nature preserve behind the house. There wasn’t anything on TV that she wanted to see: holiday parades and family movies only served to emphasis what was missing this year. A fire might be nice, it would add some warmth and light, but she’d never had a fireplace before, so she was still uncertain how to do it safely. Not like she could call her dad up and ask. Mr. Summerton had a fireplace, maybe he could show her. She was considering disobeying Mr. Thomas’ instructions when she heard a car pulling up in the driveway. People sometimes used the drive to turn around so she just listened for a moment. When she heard a car door close she sat up and went to the door.
Her sometimes boyfriend, and Star’s older brother, Darryl, was about to knock on the door when she opened it. He gave Robin a wide grin. “I keep forgetting you can do that.”
Robin gave him a warm smile and waved him in. “Hi. Get in out of the wet. Actually, that had nothing to do with Gift, I heard the car.”
Darryl stepped in and looked around. The only light on was in the kitchen area and the thin insulation barely kept the cold damp at bay. “You got plans today?”
Robin shrugged, her smile slipped a bit. “No, not really. Rhea’s on duty until this evening. We’re talking about meeting at Denny’s after.”
“But nothing this afternoon? Good, grab your jacket.” Darryl’s grin grew wider.
“Mom’s orders. If you were home I was to bring you, tossed over my shoulder if necessary, to our place for dinner.”
“Oh. Um.” Robin glanced down at the sweat pants and t-shirt she had on. “Give me a minute to put on some real clothes?”
“You look fine to me.”
Robin rolled her eyes at him. “I look a mess and you know it. Message Mom, tell her the first part of your mission is accomplished, but I will not go out looking like something the cat spat up.”
Darryl laughed and pulled out his cell phone, muttering something about her looking good regardless of what she had on.
A little over an hour later Darryl opened the door to his family’s home and waved Robin in.
Robin stopped in the foyer and looked around. The lights were turned up, there was music playing softly in the living room, and there was a wonderful smell filling the house. Best of all, there was a warm presence all around her.
“Happy Thanksgiving.” Darryl told her as he took her jacket. “Mom’s in the kitchen.”
Robin walked into the kitchen that she knew almost as well as her own; better in fact than the one she currently had. “Hi.”
“Robin.” Patricia Price set down the spoon she’d been using to stir gravy and wrapped her foster daughter in a strong hug.
Robin didn’t normally like hugging people. Physical contact accentuated her gift and too often she ended up with images of their past. The Prices’ were the exception. They were familiar with the gifts and could, with varying degrees of success, do some low level shielding. So she leaned into the hug of one of the few mother figures she knew.
“Did you think we’d forgotten you, Little Cat?” Patricia asked softly when she felt the slight sniff.
“No, not really.” Robin shook her head. “It’s just …”
“It’s been a rough year and you didn’t want to intrude.” Robin nodded and stepped back. Patricia smiled at her. “That’s why I sent Darryl over instead of calling. I know you. A call you would have tried to brush off.”
Robin gave her a smile and a raised eyebrow as she looked around the kitchen. “What needs to be done?”
Patricia picked the spoon up and pointed towards the kitchen island. “The bread and cranberry sauce need to go in.”
Robin picked up the plates and took them into the dining room. The table was set for four people and festively decorated with cardboard turkeys with paper feathers, yellow and white gourds, with a bowl of tricolor corn sitting in the center.
Darryl came in with his father carrying the rest of the sides: green beans, sweet potatoes, corn on the cob, and stuffing.
John Price pointed with his chin towards one of the chairs. “You can take Star’s seat. I don’t think she’ll mind,” he added with a smile.
They carefully arranged the food around the table, leaving space for the star of the meal, and settled into their seats. Mrs. Price came in a moment later with the turkey and sat it in front of her husband.
John waited until his wife was settled and bowed his head. “Bless us, O Lord! and these Thy gifts,” as the Prices bowed their heads in prayer Robin quietly looked around, thankful that the first holiday after her father’s death she was not alone.
If you liked this why not hop over to More Odds than Ends and read more.
Feeling the slightest bit creative? Grab a spare prompt and join in the fun. Or send in a prompt (firstname.lastname@example.org) and get one in return. The result could be fiction, non-fiction, poetry, essay, vignette, art… whatever your prompt sparks for you.