Family Meal, a scene

(one scene of a possibly longer piece)

I was the elephant in the room.

My failed suicide. My successful relationship. These were the things that nobody were supposed to know about, but of course, everyone did.

Between bites of roast beef and carrots, the room was thunderous in its silence.

When my scars itched I scratched them. I didn’t hide them under long sleeves, under the table, under layers of deception. I looked down the table at my father looking down at his meat as if it were some grand mystery. At my mother who glared at me as if I were some less grand mystery. Across from me my sister’s fork rattled against her plate.

“Oh, for fuck’s sake Jacob!” she hissed.  A whisper louder than a shout in the tense silence of the dining room.

This time my mother’s fork rattled.

Down the table my father’s shoulders jiggled a little, then lurched, then he snorted, then he laughed. Danny gave my knee a little squeeze under the table, a smirk on his face as my mother stormed away from the table.

“Sorry,” my father said. “Sorry. I…just…I…” then he melted into another table shaking bout of laughter.

My sister followed my mother, tossing her white napkin in a flutter over her plate, where it drank thirstily from the gravy and turned brown.

My brother-in-law looked from my fathers bouncing shoulder, to my sisters fleeing back, to the puckered pink/grey vines that wound up my arms like tattoos.

“So, Jacob.” he asked. “What happened? I mean, what really happened?”

“I fell in love,” I said. All eyes briefly turned to Danny, then back to me. “I fell in love,” I said again, “and then I fell apart.”

All eyes were on me, and they were full of curiosity, but also of concerned.

I was the elephant in the room, but most people like elephants after all.

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