“And here’s yer Aunt Flo, from Greensburg, where the tornado hit a bunch of years back. You have any recollection of that? The whole town was leveled but no one was hurt.”
“Nope,” Flo says. “We had enough warning that it was coming that we could turn off the gas and electricity in the whole town, and everyone hunkered down in their basements. And you should see how we rebuilt it! You’ll get to see it this summer, hopefully, when my youngest gets married.”
Missy smiles, as she tries to recall tornado from her Google searches. She tries eating one of the thin, crispy, crunchy things and almost gags. It’s close to what she imagines the sea would taste like, since she’s heard it’s full of salt.
Whatever did my brothers and sisters do before the advent of the computer and the internet? Well, they probably didn’t get rerouted after their training, that’s what.
Missy and Matt walk into her parents’ dining room and Missy stops, stock still. The side table is laden, overflowing with a deluge of food—a huge (dead) bird with a small pitcher of brown sauce beside it; large serving bowls of soft white stuff, elongated green things, and what looks like chunks of bread; several smaller serving bowls with some kind of red sauce; butter on a dish, dinner rolls, and a braided loaf of bread. An assortment of cakes and pies sit on a nearby table. Oh, right. She remembers from the chicken-fried-steak meal that the brown sauce and soft white stuff are gravy and mashed potatoes.
“Are we expecting more people?” Missy asks.
“No, darling,” Linda laughs. “We’ll just have lots and lots of leftovers. We’ll be eating this through the weekend.”
Missy watches Frank and then Matt load food—and then more food—onto their plates. She’s more than somewhat dazed.
Linda takes her plate. “Here, let me help you. Here’s some turkey, here’s some stuffing, and here’s some mashed potatoes and green beans. Here’s the gravy boat—you tell me what you think is enough.” Linda pours until Missy holds up her hand. “That’s all? Well, okay.” She butters a dinner roll and plops it on the mountain on Missy’s plate.
The crowd can’t all fit around the dining table, so some sit in the living room, balancing their up-to-the-stratosphere-high plates of food on their laps. Missy tries to focus on just her plate, eating around the edges and trying to get as far inward as possible.
The football game—Is that a gladiator event? No, wrong millennium—on the television makes it hard to hear the conversations around her, which seem a little stilted. The family members cast glances at her, and she just tries to smile back at them as best she can.
“Going back fer seconds,” Matt says. “Want anything?”
Seconds? She shakes her head as her mouth is stuffed with stuffing.
Missy can only eat about a third of what’s on her plate, and she starts to bring it to the kitchen.
“The doctor says she’s never seen a case of amnesia like this,” Missy overhears Linda telling Rod in the hallway between the kitchen and the dining room.
Missy lingers in the dining room, not wanting to eavesdrop but not wanting to avoid it either.
Uncle Charlie approaches her. “Sure glad to have you back with us, Missy,” he says.
“Get away from me,” she hisses.
Frank, passing by the dining room doorway, stops and approaches her. “Missy, everything okay in here?”
Missy considers hissing at Charlie some more, but thinks better of it. “Everything’s fine, Dad.”
Oh, it’s so easy to lie here. No one can really tell. They’ve turned off that switch for discernment.
Frank leaves the room. As Charlie is about to follow him out, Missy says, “Just keep your distance.”
Linda enters the room. “Are you done already?” She takes Missy’s plate. “Ready fer some pumpkin pie?”
“Oh, I can’t eat an
ything else right now.”
“Alright. I’ll take this into the kitchen. You go on back in there,” she says, gesturing toward the living room. “Folks want to see you, all comin’ back from the great beyond and all.” Linda hurries toward the kitchen and Missy heads back to the living room.
“Missy,” Leslie calls to her, patting the empty space on the sofa next to her.
Missy sits down. “Are you my BFF?”
Leslie laughs. “You could say that.” She puts her arms around Missy’s shoulders. “I live in Washington, D.C. now, and I never come back for Thanksgiving, but I had to come see you. I called Mom and Dad every day, and they called your mom and dad every day for updates all through your recovery. I actually burst into tears when they told me you woke up.”
“You live in Washington, D.C.?” Missy isn’t certain, but the name of that place seems familiar. Wait a light year…wasn’t that where I was supposed to go? What was I supposed to do there?
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