459 words, involves a funeral and alcohol. Please leave a comment if you like what you read. 😊
Everyone said it was a lovely funeral. The deceased had been well respected in the community and was survived by his wife and teenaged son, both of whom wore black clothes and flimsy cardboard smiles throughout the day as they accepted the many condolences and sympathy casseroles. Those invited to the service and the reception afterwards were asked not to bring flowers, just words, but the casseroles were inevitable. It was what people did.
After the mourners left, the boy’s mother turned to him and said briskly, “Well, that’s over. Now get the last bottles out of the liquor cabinet, Emmanuel.”
Manny brought the bottles, expecting her to pour their contents down the kitchen drain, but instead she set two glasses down on the kitchen table and poured. Then she picked one up and pushed the other towards him.
“The one and only time,” she advised. “Get a good facefull of it now and it’ll be out of your system for good by morning. I don’t want a damn drop of the stuff left in this house.” Then, almost thoughtfully, she said, “Do you remember the time he broke your arm?”
“Yes ma’am,” he muttered, looking down at the table.
He remembered being six. Until then, when he’d caught the brunt of Frank Cowell’s bad temper his mother had always tried to intervene, to keep him safe. It didn’t always work but she had done it. But one night, when he was six, Manny had seen his father hit his mother and prepare to hit her again, and he’d run between them. That time, when he’d been grabbed sharply for getting in the way, his mother had stayed silent. He hadn’t realized, in his six year old mind, that it was even possible she might not.
Manny remembered every major injury. Hatred for the old man had been sewn into the lining of all of them, but that betrayal had gone even deeper. Her silence and averted eyes as he’d been grabbed and lifted up by one arm had later knitted in with the slowly healing bone. From that point on they hadn’t been allies anymore; they’d become prisoners in solitary, neighboring cells.
His mother scooted his glass towards him, her eyes flashing a look more conspiratorial than anything they’d shared in years. “Drink up.”
He did as he was told. It was a celebration of death, freedom, and all the things that were too painful to ever be discussed. Manny didn’t like the harsh burning taste of the drink at first but it wasn’t long before he’d stopped actually tasting it. Around dawn he ended up in the back yard being loudly sick into the rhododendrons, wishing he was dead and swearing to himself he’d never drink again.