Sunday 12/14/2008 03:59:00 AM

Two are dead. The rest have gone away. We sit. The three of us that remain. Quietly cutting our steaks. Sopping up the juices with stale heels of bread. Her absence apparent only to me. Our small feast so unlike the ones as a child I remember having attended.

Turkey soup. Fortified with gizzards. Stuffing sick with salmonella. Delicious diseases for everyone to eat. Sick with each other. In the best possible ways.

No chair empty. No burner unused. As she stirred. Her bland, bland soup. Organs and vegetables simmering for hours under the guidance of her heavy ladle.

Ticking off each year in a grim ceremony called family. Tasteless as ever. But always addictive.

The blood between us resisting. Biology a formality to be overcome. There was pie. And coffee. Dry turkey for everyone. It was a day. It was a year. It was an eternity. Everyone was there. No one was.

It was nothing.

As quickly as it came it was over.

All those people. I was expected to love.

Strangers again.

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