The turkey’s wishbone was larger than Morton could remember ever seeing before, and he marveled at it, showed it off to the kids, preserved it after carving into the large bird to pry it out gently. The wishbone dried on the windowsill above the kitchen sink, awaiting Miles and Carter’s tug-of-war jousting later in the evening. The two boys nudged each other, pestered and gave each other grief, boasted about being the luckiest. Roger glanced at the wishbone from time to time as he washed pots, the gravy boat, china, glasses, the stuff the dishwasher couldn’t take after a full load. Too long ago now, everything with a bit of haziness clouding each memory, he thought of his own childhood past, when his parents and his younger sister were forced into the same room in the house, celebrating any birthday or holiday together (without his mom or dad drinking too much booze before, during, or after the feast), and to care as much as he did.
Now, he hadn’t seen his father in over two decades, after pops simply walked out on his family. His mother became more of a harpy, wine-fueled rages of despair, and rot, ruin, and Roger graduated high school and had to do hard time, entering Washington State University in Pullman, where his mother worked as an assistant to one of the bureaucratic bigwigs—she received a marked discount from the university, her children who enrolled there did too with tuition discounts, and their mother never let them forget it. Her sharp mind fastened chains to both her children’s futures. She wanted to keep them close, and this only made them frustrated, hateful even, at times.
After he graduated with an English degree (Roger wanted to teach—escape) he sought work in Anacortes, far from his Pullman, Washington homestead—married and divorced young after failing at acquiring a job in the local school system. His sister, Judy, never forgave him for leaving, her bitterness mirroring his mother’s monstrous cracked heart. Judy couldn’t escape until years later. It was a college town, and she scraped by, decided to live at home, take care of (enable) her decaying mom, day-drinker extraordinaire, save up funds, be a waitress at a breakfast lunch diner, study economics. She had a mind for it, the smartest of the bunch. Their mother died of liver complications in her fifties, and Judy called, sent Roger half the proceeds from the sale of the 1,500 square foot, three-bedroom family home. Roger had fled west, reached Anacortes and seldom glanced backwards into his history. Judy married an accountant and lived in Spokane. She had three kids, all approaching their teenage years, converted to the Mormon faith—which suited her hatred of alcohol, and enhanced her enjoyment of sweets. Roger and Judy communicated but once a year, and Roger didn’t let this distancing bother him. He sent his two nephews and one niece gift cards for Christmas, not knowing them well enough to pick out anything personal. Stayed in touch just enough to keep them at a distance. It hurt Roger to see Judy. Simple as that. Can’t choose your family. Bullshit. And then his next thought wondering if he should send Judy an invitation to the opening of The Queen’s Idle Fancy in May, months away. She’d have time to coordinate her schedule at work, and the kids would love the action scenes, the fighting with swords, the execution scenes. All children loved grisly tales.