November by Mike DiChristina
November 1, 2012 Comments Off on November by Mike DiChristina
Joe called his son, Tom, on All Souls Day to confirm Thanksgiving.
“Sure you and Ma are up for it?” said Tom.
“No problem,” said Joe.
“We’ll just come for dinner.”
“That’s a long drive. Stay over night,” said Joe, “Angela loves it, and the kids love sleeping in your old room. I’ll make French toast Friday morning. Maybe we’ll go shopping downtown.”
“We’ll bring the turkey.”
“We got the turkey,” said Joe.
“Okay, Pops,” said Tom.
Joe hung up. Upstairs, he lay next to Angela. “They’re coming,” he whispered.
That night, Joe sat at the kitchen table with his calendar opened to November, a sheet of notepaper, and a pencil stub. Licking his pencil as he wrote, Joe made two columns on the notepaper: one for food, the other for chores. Then, he transferred each item to his calendar, making an entry on the day he would perform the given task.
The next day, Joe started upstairs with the unused bedrooms, washing the linens and cleaning the windows and floors. In Tom’s old room, Joe opened the closet door and pulled the desk chair over. The chair creaked as he stood on it, just tall enough to reach the stuffed monkey on the top shelf. He removed the monkey from the plastic bag and smelled it before placing it on the bed.
When each room was in order, Joe closed the door and checked it off on his planner.
Early in the month, Joe acquired the non-perishable items: canned squash, frozen corn, Stovetop Stuffing. He also bought corn muffin mix and cranberry sauce.
Later, he focused on downstairs. He placed a pillow on the kitchen floor to protect his knees and waxed the linoleum. Outside, he raked the barren backyard, scratching the shiny brown earth, stuffing leaves, dried dog shit, and windblown garbage into a plastic bag.
One evening, the front doorbell rang.
The priest stood in the front foyer, wrinkling his nose. “How’s Angela?” he said.
“Visiting Tom,” said Joe, “New baby.”
“Tell her I miss her.”
“Me, too,” said Joe.
On Tuesday of Thanksgiving week, Joe walked to the A&P to buy fresh things for a salad. He bought crackers, cheddar cheese, and a six-pack to watch the football games with Tom. For Friday breakfast, he got eggs, milk, and white bread. He had cinnamon leftover from last year. The prices had gone up, so he didn’t have enough cash, but the lady let him go.
“You pay me next week,” she said.
That night he woke up remembering he had forgotten the butter.
“I forgot the butter,” he said to Angela, “and the syrup.”
Joe set the table on Wednesday morning. He put chocolate turkeys at the kids’ seats for after dinner, and he laid Saran wrap over the table to keep the dust off.
That afternoon, the delivery boy came over with the turkey, which Joe left on the counter to defrost.
Joe was ready. He sat in the dusk and practiced talking.
© 2012 Mike DiChristina
Mike DiChristina’s stories have recently been published at Literary Juice and Postcard Shorts. He lives in Connecticut with his wife and three daughters.