By Diane D. Gillette
A mere three months after the incident that was never, ever, ever discussed again, Lydia’s mother invited three eligible bachelors to Thanksgiving dinner. She picked out a dress for Lydia to wear. It sadly didn’t have any pockets for hiding secrets.
“You just never know, my sweet,” her mother informed her. “You just never know.”
Lydia didn’t know, that was for certain.
All three of the bachelors were named Jack. Or maybe only one of them was named Jack and Lydia stopped paying attention as the rest of them were introduced. Or maybe none of them were named Jack, but Lydia was thinking that someday she’d like to have a Jack Russell terrier with sharp teeth or maybe just a bottle of Jack Daniels. Either way, she was pretty sure they were all named Jack.
Over wine and hors d’oeuvres, Lydia learned she was no longer allowed to drink when they had company. Her mother gave her a glass of chocolate milk. Lydia added a swirly straw. She refrained from blowing bubbles and preened at her mother, certain such restraint would earn her some maternal gratitude.
Jack #1 guffawed at the sight of her swirly-strawed chocolate milk. Jack #2 chortled. Jack #3 stared at her like he was imagining what she looked like with her skin peeled off.
The room began to boil with all their Jackness. She felt an incident bubbling inside her. “I should really check on the turkey,” Lydia announced
Lydia couldn’t cook. Her mother had no intention of letting her poison the guests, but she couldn’t very well admit that in front of them, not if she was hoping for an evening that ended in a discussion of the value of Lydia’s hand.
Lydia didn’t know the value of either of her hands, but she did know the kitchen smelled divine, and even as she bent over the oven to remove the turkey, she felt a cool wash of relief kiss her skin. She put her nose to the turkey and breathed deep, stroked its roasted flesh every so lightly with the tips of her fingers. She liked the way it crackled under her touch. She peeled off a piece and placed it on her tongue to let its crispness melt into her.
From the parlor a guffaw floated in, followed by a chortle, ending in an eerie silence. Lydia pressed her hands together, prayer style, and pushed them into the turkey, through the savory spiced stuffing, until she was fully inside an unexpectedly cozy turkey cocoon. She shaped a stuffing pillow, laid back, and reflected on pants with functional pockets, salt and limes, feminist literature, pretty strangers with soft lips, and everything else she had to be thankful for. Like Jack Russell terriers, undiscovered incidents, and mothers with long memories, forgiving hearts, and misplaced intentions. Turkey drumsticks, swirly straws and the fact it didn’t much matter who her mother invited to dinner, Lydia still belonged to Lydia.
Diane D. Gillette lives, writes, and teaches in Chicago. Her work has appeared in over 50 literary venues including the Saturday Evening Post, Blackbird, Hobart, and the Maine Review. You can find more of her published work at www.digillette.com.