He said let’s stay home for Thanksgiving.  She said this again.  He said only once a year.  She said  you know mom and pop are expecting us.  He said I don’t want to spend every Thanksgiving with your family.  She said it’s tradition.  He said we can start our own tradition.  Chinese take-out.  Pickled herring. Sushi.  She said you knew it came with the territory.  He said your father is a turkey.  She said but you are thankful for the checks my father writes for grad school.  He said okay, your father is Santa Claus.

She said let’s stick to Thanksgiving.  Can I tell them we’ll be there?  He said maybe I’m the cross he has to bear.  She said he worked third shift at the mill his entire life.  He said his beloved factory moved to China.  She said I told Mom I’d bring the pies.  He said so, tell them you’ll be there.  She said are you going to send me—with my hand out?  He said hell no.  Fuck yes.  Tell them we’ll be there.


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Pamela Painter

About Pamela Painter

Pamela Painter’s first collection of stories,Getting to Know the Weather, won the Great Lakes Colleges Association New Writers Award, and was reissued as A Carnegie Mellon Classic Contemporary in 2008. Her second collection of stories, also from Carnegie Mellon, is titled The Long and Short of It. Painter is co-author, with Anne Bernays, of the widely-used textbookWhat If? Fiction Exercises for Fiction Writers. Painter’s individual stories have appeared in The Atlantic Monthly, Harper’s, Kenyon Review, North American Review, and Ploughshares, and in numerous anthologies, including Sudden Fiction, Flash Fiction, Flash Fiction Forward, and Microfiction. She has work forthcoming in Kenyon Review and Smokelong Quarterly. And from Word Theatre.