Posts tagged “thanksgiving

Guiding Light, Chapter 15

Posted on 08/12/2015

Joy; it was something none of them knew could exist after Yonas and Ester were laid to rest, never to be experienced again. Their lives as orphans was to be filled with grief, especially during the holidays, and no one would see cause to blame them for their despair.

However, Abe found himself smiling as he thought of the moment they’d gotten the call from the Department of Family and Protective Services after Mrs. Bessel’s visit. The entire family crowded around him, eyes riveted to his face, ears perked to hear the muffled voices from the phone, awaiting the news.

The minute he nodded, they all cheered. Both Darah and Eleazar couldn’t muffle their squeals of excitement, jumping into their older brothers’ arms. Abe remained seated though a smile was on his face as he listened to the instructions. He barely heard a word though, watching his siblings celebrate. This was joy; something once unattainable after their parents’ death had now become theirs to hold for a lifetime.

Darah jumped into Bart’s arms, her skinny arms circling his neck and squealing for joy as he spun her around. Eleazar was also in high spirits in Clement’s arms. Both Bart and Clement were grinning from ear to ear. Relief and joy filled Abe’s body and he allowed himself to smile finally. They were going to stay together, as a family.

Since they’d been too anxious about the DFPS visit, their Thanksgiving dinner was delayed. Thanksgiving dinner consisted of grilled cheese sandwiches, corn on the cob and apple juice for the main course, and mint chocolate cookies for dessert.

None complained of the lack of festivity, knowing that impressing the visitor from the foster agency was of a greater importance. They’d come together as a family and would now have the opportunity to live life together.

Darah sniffled on the table, breaking Abe’s thoughts. They now sat on the dining table, eating their more festive Thanksgiving dinner a few days later. All eyes turned to Darah, frowning at the tears streaming down her face.

“What’s wrong?” Abe asked, reaching over to put a hand on her shoulder. His eyes skimmed over his brothers, each of them shrugging, their expressions puzzled and wary.

Head down, Darah swiped the tears from her cheeks. “Nothing…”

“You’re crying for nothing—” Clement scowled when Bart nudged his foot under the table.

“You sure it’s nothing?” Abe asked gently, hand cupping her bony shoulder.

Darah nodded, lowering her hand. “I just… I just miss Mom.”

“I miss Daddy,” Eleazar piped in.

Abe’s shoulders sagged. Clement looked away. Bart sighed. This business of grieving would be a long one for the Teka family, that much was certain. And although they had much to celebrate, they also had two reasons to be solemn during the holidays.

“Like who’s gonna show me how to drive?” Darah continued.

“You have three brothers that’ll teach you when it’s time,” Abe answered.

Clement and Bart nodded, wearing identical frowns as they regarded their only sister.

She sniffed. “And who’ll show me how to straighten my hair? Or tell me whether to use pads or tampons?”

The three guys stiffened, Abe grimacing.

“What’s tampons?” Eleazar asked frowning.

Darah sighed heavily at their silence and pained expressions. “See? And when I have my first boyfriend–”

The men scowled. “What boyfriend?” Abe groused.

“You’re too young to even look at boys right now,” Bart added with a frown.

“That’s for sure,” Clement grumbled, his expression stormy. “Keep your head down.”

Darah rolled her eyes. “I didn’t say I was. Calm down.”

“Good we got that cleared up,” Bart said, returning to his sandwich. Clement did the same while Eleazar played with the lumpy mashed potatoes.

Sure she wasn’t done, Abe squinted at her. “What’s your point, Darah?”

She pinned him with her gaze and he felt every muscle in his body tense up.

“Whether you guys admit it or not, you know I need a woman’s influence.” Her lips trembled. “If Mommy was here…”

“Then Abe should get married,” Clement said matter-of-factly as he bit into the fried chicken. “Simple.”

Abe and Bart eyed him warily.

Darah sat up. “Oh yeah, but who?” her voice was entirely too cheery for Abe’s liking.

“Who else?” Clement shrugged nonchalantly. “Ms. Randall.”

“Ooh!” Darah clasped her hands together, face beaming. “That’s awesome!”

“I like Phoebe,” Eleazar said with a grin.

Bart’s shoulders loosened and a bemused smile twitched his lips. He eyed Abe who looked thunderstruck. “Looks like you’re getting married, Bro.”

Bewildered, Abe blinked at his siblings. “Marry… Phoebe? Me?”

“Who else?” Clement repeated, eying him curiously.

“I’ll marry her!” Eleazar said and Bart ruffled his hair.

“Wait your turn, kid.” Then Bart grinned at Abe. “You like her, don’t you?”

“Of course he likes her,” Darah said, beaming at Abe. “After kissing her like that, you better like her.”

Bart chuckled, Eleazar giggled, and Clement smirked. “The madam of the house has spoken. You’re getting married.”

Abe’s frown only deepened. “Now wait a minute. Don’t I get a say on whom and when I get married?”

Whom, shall or whatever,” Bart countered, smile only growing brighter. “Abe, you talk formally only when you’re uncomfortable… which means you’ve clearly considered it for yourself.”

“Oooh!” Darah sing-songed with a laugh. “Abe wants to marry Phoebe.”

“That’s ridiculous.” He shook his head, increasingly weary of this conversation. “No.”

“Uh-huh,” Darah continued, nudging him with her elbow. Everyone laughed at Abe’s exasperated expression. “Admit it, you wanna marry Phoebe. It’s plain as day in your eyes, Abe.”

“That’s enough. I said no!”

The smiles froze and the room grew silent. All eyes gaped at him, stunned by his outburst. Abe stifled a groan.

“Wait… you don’t wanna marry her?” Darah croaked, big eyes luminous with tears unshed. “Why not? She’s perfect.”

Abe sighed in rising aggravation. Her tears were his weakness. “Darah, not that again. Stop it.”

Scowling, Darah shot to her feet and glared down at him. “You suck.”

The brothers watched Darah storm up the stairs to her room, and flinched when she slammed her door. Then exhaling a harsh breath, Abe leaned his elbows on the table and covered his face with his hands.

Quietly, Clement and Eleazar left the table to go after Darah. Bart remained seated, the silence only interrupted by Eleazar’s pleas upstairs for Darah to open her door. Clement then gently instructed Eleazar to leave her alone for now, and both retreated to their shared room.

“What’s got you scared?”

Abe let out a humorless laugh. “You have no idea.”

“I think I do.” Bart waited until Abe looked up before giving his brother a smile. “You’ve just become the legal guardian of three minors… before turning thirty. According to the law, you’re officially a father.”

Abe rubbed his face, the word father resonating in his heart. Could he be the kind of father Yonas was to them? What if he didn’t have a clue?

“The thing is no one’s asking you to be Dad, Abe.”

He met Bart’s eye, his heart stopped.

“Not me, not Junior, not Darah and not Eli. You can’t be him, no one can.”

Abe swallowed hard, his eyes stinging.

“All you can be is yourself, Abe. That’s what counts.”

“What if that’s not enough?” His chest tightened, his fears rising to the surface.

“It is. Abe, it is enough.” Bart gave him a smile. “Stop giving yourself a hard time, stop acting like you’re this perfect son who has to meet everyone’s expectations.”

Chagrined, Abe looked away.

“You’ve been doing that since we were young. Aren’t you tired of it?”

Abe looked up, meeting Bart’s frown. He had no words in his defense. For as long as he could remember, he tried to be a good son and a good student, so Yonas and Ester would never regret their decision to adopt him. Even though they never failed to tell him he was their choice, not an obligation, he couldn’t stop striving to be the best he could be.

“Enough, Abe. Stop living to prove yourself. They’re proud of you. We’re all proud of you.”

Tears brimmed his eyes and Abe blinked them away, bowing his head. He knew those words, heard them a lot from their parents, but somehow hearing it from Bart felt different. Like a balm to heal the wound of their loss. His loss.

“And I’m here,” Bart said softly. “You’re not doing this alone. We’ll do this together, all of us. Not one person will be left with the responsibility of keeping our family together. Got it?”

His throat too tight to form words, Abe merely nodded. The thought of his siblings growing together in this house warmed him and terrified him all at the same time. And Darah’s worries only stirred up more what-ifs and unknowns than he was prepared to consider.

“This thing with Darah,” Bart continued with hesitation in his voice. “It’s foreign.”

His lips twitched. “You can say that again.”

“Going to the store to buy pads and tampons… it’s not something I imagined us doing now. But it’s what we’ve got to deal with.”

“Plus dealing with guys and other female stuff…” Abe trailed off, grimacing.

“Oh, she’ll have her first and only boyfriend at thirty,” Bart said confidently. “Not dealing with that until then.”

Abe smirked. “Not if she has anything to say about it.”

Bart smirked in return. “True, the rascal.” His smile waned. “Anyway about Phoebe… are you sure?”

Abe’s smile froze.

“I mean, are you serious about not wanting to marry her someday? You don’t like her?”

Abe frowned. “I like her. It’s not that. I…”

“Take your time, Abe,” Bart said gently. “No one’s saying you should get married tomorrow or next year. But if you like her and you see her being in this family, we’re in full support. She’s a good woman.”

“I know…”

“Then make your move before some other cat does.”

Abe sagged in his chair. “After the way I treated her that night, I really doubt she wants me.”

Bart chuckled. “That’s not what Junior said.”

Abe looked up in alarm. “What? W-what did he say?”

<<Chapter 14 || Chapter 16>>

Guiding Light, Chapter 13

Posted on 02/12/2015

Unlike most families sitting down for their Thanksgiving meals, the Teka siblings bustled about, with each sibling scurrying around the two-storey home. Darah hurried down the hallway, Eleazar in tow, grabbing every dirty article of clothing from all the rooms.

“Ugh, guys are so gross!” she bellowed from the top of the stairs. Eleazar laughed delightfully, following her to the laundry room.

Down in the living room, Clement and Abe each held one end of a wide mirror. while looking to Bart for directions.

“A little to the right,” Bart muttered, frowning. “No, Abe’s left.”

Clement glowered. “You come hold it then.”

“Did you really have to get the heaviest mirror in the store?” Abe grunted, beads of sweat dotting his forehead.

“Okay, one step to the right.” Bart arched a brow when his brothers groaned. “Okay, perfect.” He moved around them and pounded two nails in the wall.

Darah and Eleazar made their way down just as Abe and Clement stepped away from the mirror. With one quick glance, she frowned. “It’s crooked.”

Eleazar tilted his head sideways and nodded in agreement.

Clement groaned and sank onto the couch.

“Done with the laundry?” Abe asked, ignoring all talk of the pesky mirror.

“Yup!” Eleazar piped up, giving Abe a grin.

“One batch to go,” Darah added, placing her hands to her hips. “Although I doubt the inspector will care about y’all’s nasty underwear.”

Abe moved to perch on the arm chair. “Can’t have our dirty laundry hanging around. He might want to make sure we’re not packing you, Junior and Eli in the same room.”

“Although it’s tempting,” Bart muttered, eying the mirror. “Let’s take it down and try again.”

Clement shook his head and lay down on the couch. “I’m out.”

Mischief on his face, Eleazar hurried to the couch and sat on Clement’s face. A delightful laugh escaped his mouth when Clement’s hand snaked around him and hauled him off his feet.

Darah and her eldest brothers watched in amusement as Clement tickled Eleazar.

Abe smiled gently, watching Eleazar shriek in laughter and wiggle under Clement’s hands. It was moments like this that made the absence of their parents bittersweet. They hadn’t grown up together; him and Bart out of the house by the time Darah and Eleazar came along. They were practically strangers with Bart barely coming home for the holidays because of his demanding work. But here they were united as a real family because of their parents’ untimely death.

His eyes stung thinking of Yonas and Ester. Would they be proud? Were they smiling down from heaven that their family hadn’t fallen apart but stayed together in hardship?

Darah sniffed beside him and he broke away from his thoughts to look down at her. Twin tears slid down her cheeks, making his heart break.

He moved to her side and slipped an arm around her shoulders. From the corner of his eye, he noticed Bart wipe at his eyes and looked at him fully. Bart had his head bowed but Abe knew his brother was crying. His chest tightened at the sight.

Clement’s hands stilled and he wrapped his arms around Eleazar, his head resting on Eleazar’s shoulder. Eleazar’s laughter faded and he began to whimper, at first that Clement held him a bit too tight. But he quietened and wrapped his arms around Clement whose grunting was from trying to hold back his sobbing. Eleazar began to cry aloud, followed by Darah.

Abe’s vision blurred as the tears fell. He nudged Darah toward the couch where Clement clung to Eleazar and knelt there. With his free arm, he reached for Bart who came quietly. They huddled together and cried aloud, mourning this Thanksgiving; their first holiday without Yonas and Ester.

Bleary-eyed, the Teka siblings went about the rest of their day in thought of their deceased parents. Clement and Eleazar played their video games in silence, Darah returned upstairs to finish up the laundry, while Bart and Abe retreated to the backyard to set up the deep fryer.

The two eldest stood in silence without touching the deep fryer, staring at the budding rosebushes lining the wooden fence. Bart smiled wistfully. “I remember when Mom said she wanted rosebushes that one year. Remember?”

Abe’s lips twitched, recalling the memory vividly. He was fifteen and Bart thirteen when Ester begged Yonas to plant rosebushes and brighten up their yard.  “She was insistent, wasn’t she?” he murmured, the twinge of grief ever present.

“He’d do anything and everything for her,” Bart added and sniffed.

Worried that Bart was crying again, Abe glanced at his brother’s profile.

“I don’t want to sell the house.”

Silence stretched before Abe placed a hand over Bart’s shoulder. “Thank you.”

Bart turned to him. “What, no questions?”

“I had a feeling. You were too involved with renovations for it to be sold.” Abe squeezed Bart’s shoulder before stepping away.

Bart scoffed but didn’t disagree. He bent to open the box containing the deep fryer. “I bet Geraldine’s not gonna like that, me staying.”

Abe watched his brother lift the steel container from the box. “I dunno… she just might.”

Confusion wrinkled Bart’s brow when he looked up. “You’re kidding.”

“Nope. She likes you.”

Bart’s eyes widened. “Wha–wait what?”

The back door squeaked open and both brothers turned to see Darah with the wireless phone in hand. “Call. Gerri.”

The brothers exchanged looks, and then Abe smirked. “For who?”

“Bart.” Darah arched a brow, extending the phone out to him.

“Uh…” Bart blinked twice at the phone and up at Darah and then back at the phone.

“Or Abe,” Darah shifted the phone to the eldest. “One of you take it–”

“I’ll take it!” Bart snatched it from her and jumped to his feet. With clumsy steps, he moved around Darah and entered the house. “H-hello?”

Perturbed by his hasty exit, Darah watched the back door. “What’s with him?”

Abe chuckled, slinging an arm around Darah’s skinny shoulders. “You’ll see. Now come help me set this up.”

She eyed him dubiously. “Do you even know what you’re doing?”

“Not at all.” He smiled and steered her around. “But between you and me, we can figure it out.”

Darah smiled back. “Alright then. Let’s hope we don’t blow up the house.”

“Have a little faith,” he said laughing.

Bart swiftly turned to the quietest part of the house, their father’s study, and shut the door behind him.

“Hello?” Geraldine’s impatient contralto sounded in the speaker.

He lifted the phone to his ear. “Hey.”

“… Bart?”

He frowned. “Expecting someone else?”

She paused in speaking and he imagined that small wrinkle between her brows.

“Is there something you wanted?” he ventured to ask, leaning against the door.

“If you’re busy, let me talk to Abe then.”

He scowled. “He’s busy.”

She snorted. “Fine. I’ll be quick. Please tell everyone I said Happy Thanksgiving and that I miss them all.”

Bart arched a brow when she managed to separate him from the rest of his family. “Where are you?”

Geraldine sighed. “In the airport.”

He frowned as his stomach did a somersault, to which he credited to hunger. “Oh?”

“Yeah… my grandmother’s sick, so we’re gonna make the trip out there.”

Bart swallowed hard at the sadness in her voice. “Sorry to hear that.”

“It’s okay,” she answered with a sigh. “At ninety-one, her being alive is a miracle–” she hissed sharply. “I’m sorry, that was insensitive of me.”

He managed a smile. “Don’t apologize for your grandmother’s life. I hope she gets better.”

Geraldine was quiet too long, that he lifted the phone to look down at it. Then she sighed yet again. “I hope so too.”

Bart leaned his head back and marveled that he and Geraldine were having a conversation without bickering. The corner of his lips twitched as he decided that he rather liked this. Her voice sounded like smooth, warm honey–

“Happy Thanksgiving, Bart.”

He smiled wide, warmed by her voice and her message. “Happy Thanksgiving, Geraldine.”

The sounds of an intercom in the background filled the silence.

“Looks like you have to go,” Bart said once the noise faded.

“In a minute…”

He grinned, liking that she didn’t want to rush off the phone either. “Okay.”

“Did you guys eat yet?”

“Hm, not yet.” He shifted against the door, tucking his free hand at his back. “You?”

“Hm, a burrito in the airport. Definitely not the same as home.”

Bart chuckled softly. “I bet.”

“Is… Phoebe back?”

His smile waned, a furrow in his brow. “Not yet.”

Geraldine sighed. “You think she and Abe will get back together?”

Bart’s face tensed at the hint of hope in her voice, and he clenched his jaw. “Why are you ask–?” The intercom sounded again, and Bart clamped his teeth together, annoyed.

“That’s us. I better get going.”

“Alright,” he clipped out, gripping the phone. “Be safe.”

“Thanks, I’ll–”

Bart disconnected the call before she could say another word and lowered the phone from his ear. He knew he was wrong for being impertinent with her all because of her crush on his brother, but at that moment Bart didn’t care.

When he returned to the backyard and spotted Darah reading the instructions to Abe, Bart wiped any sign of his annoyance and joined his siblings. “What’d I miss?”

Abe glanced up, giving Bart a once-over before turning back to the apparatus. “Everything alright?” he asked, distracted.

Bart accepted the pamphlet Darah handed him and sighed. “Yup. Now where were we?”

“I’m going inside,” Darah announced, stepping around them. “Don’t mess this up and hurt yourselves. I don’t want to be adopted again.”

Abe shook his head as Darah entered the house, then he looked to Bart who studied the instructions with deep concentration. “What’d she say?”

“Nothing important,” Bart muttered, flipping the pamphlet over. “Think we can fit two whole chickens inside? It’ll go a lot faster.”

“Faster isn’t always smarter,” Abe replied, propping the container over its stand. “But maybe we can try it this time.”

“I’ll get the birds.” Bart moved quickly to the door, not wanting to answer Abe’s questions on Geraldine or reveal  how troubled he was by her lack of interest in him.

<<Chapter 12 || Chapter 14>>

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