Welcome to The Spot Writers. The prompt for this month: As the year ends, we’ll focus on the topic of Endings and New Beginnings. Keeping with the December theme, a fruitcake must also appear somewhere in your story. This week’s story comes from Dorothy Colinco. Check out her blog for fiction, books reviews, and book news.
A New Tradition
by Dorothy Colinco
Marie sat in her car and told herself she would go in as soon as the cold became unbearable. She blew on her hands, which did little to warm her fingers already encased in leather gloves. As the heat escaped her beaten up Honda Civic, so did her resolve and her confidence in her ability to put up with these people. Why DID she put up with them? Didn’t her ties to her in-laws die when Chuck did? It’s not like they had children who needed to be around their father’s side of the family.
But year after year, the invitations kept coming, and somehow Marie was unable to decline, probably for the same reasons they were unable to stop inviting her. Before she could decide to turn on the car and speed away, Marie heard the echo of her boots on the sidewalk, peppered with salt crystals. Then she was in front of a swinging door that opened into a brightly lit room garishly adorned with mismatched Christmas decorations, as if this were a university dorm rather than a $2 million house near the Capitol. You truly could not buy taste.
“It’s Marie, everyone!” Chuck’s Aunt Louise flashed her a grin that revealed more lipstick than teeth. Her sweater displayed three poodles – small, medium, and large – stacked one on top of the other to make a snowman. Her actual sweater.
“Look, she’s brought her famous fruitcake!” She turned to face Marie. “Good, I needed a doorstop.” She laughed, as this was very funny. “I’m only kidding, of course.” She took Marie’s elbow and led her into the kitchen where a middle-schooler was in charge of mixing 7 UP and rainbow sherbet into a red plastic punch bowl.
For two hours, Marie sat through it all. She listened to them discuss the election and managed not to say a single word, not a damn one, even as these ignoramuses played at being informed citizens by parroting what they’d pieced together from the titles of articles, not even the articles themselves, shared by their equally informed friends on Facebook. She feigned interest when four different people showed her pictures of babies and dogs. They, in turn, pretended to care about how her work was going or how her family back in Europe was. Chuck’s married uncle tried to make a pass at her, just like last year.
She finally managed to escape to the kitchen. She popped a turnover into her mouth, and as she rounded the kitchen island, she found a familiar piece of red cellophane peeking from the trash can. She moved a dirty plastic plate and a muffin wrapper to find her fruitcake, the one her mother had made during every year of Marie’s childhood, the one Marie had made and brought every year with Chuck as a tradition.
With her jaw set and her nostrils flared, Marie rescued the fruitcake from the bin and wiped off the debris. She marched toward the door, setting down the fruitcake only to retrieve her coat. Aunt Louise found her and was about to make a joke about Marie being the usual party pooper when her eyes slowly rested on the fruitcake in Marie’s arm. For a moment, the two women stood, saying nothing. Others in the room started to notice the odd energy and had begun to stare. With an even voice, Marie broke the silence.
“That is the ugliest sweater I have ever seen, and this isn’t even a tacky holiday sweater party.”
One of Aunt Louise’s hands flew to her gaping mouth while the other clutched her stacked poodles, or her chest, Marie didn’t care to know the difference. She was out the door before anyone could say another word. As she hopped into her car, she was already planning the next holiday season, now that she finally had a reason to start a new tradition.
The Spot Writers—Our Members:
Val Muller: http://www.valmuller.com/blog/
Catherine A. MacKenzie: https://writingwicket.wordpress.com/wicker-chitter/
Dorothy Colinco. www.dorothycolinco.com
CaraMarie Christy: https://calamariwriting.wordpress.com