It's a little lonely here. With my sister living in London, one brother in Israel, and my other brother in the midst of a rocky engagement, it's mostly just me, my mother, and my stepfather.
"What are you doing?", My mother yells down the hall to my stepfather.
"I'm going to get the pillow from the spare room."
"Why? What's wrong with yours?"
"I don't know. I can't get comfortable with mine."
"Tell me again? What's wrong with your pillow", she asks louder.
He yells back, "Don't worry about it. I just can't get comfortable".
"All this time...", my mother says, her voice trailing off.
That's what it's like coming home. Circular conversations that seem to go nowhere, but spread like icebergs under the surface. I'm staying in a room down the hall that used to be my little brothers. He's usually home when I am, but this year he's far away and I miss him terribly. His room seemed cozy to me and so this is where I've been sleeping.
One minute we're laughing about something over dinner and then the next, my stepdad, trying to play the part of the benevolent yet authoritative husband for the company says to my mother, whose working in the kitchen,
"Come on Jordan". He beckons to her. "Come back to the table."
She stands in the kitchen. The guest's backs are to her but things at the table quiet down, waiting for her response. She puts down the serving bowl and the dish towel and looks up at him with a cold disgust.
"Don't you ever...".
She seems to remember who's in the room and doesn't finish the sentence.
"Don't tell me what to do", she says, this time a little lighter, in a way that the guests might think they'd mistaken her initial tone. The conversation picks back up again. I try to pretend that this is an ordinary interaction, chewing on a green bean for an unusual length of time.