It was another torturous holiday dinner at casa Darren. Shauna sometimes wondered how her parents could stand each other, since she couldn’t stand either of them. Why did her mother always go to so much trouble with these family meals? She always decorated the table with an appropriate centerpiece, but why? Today it was an Easter basket, full of hand painted eggs, but who’d painted them and to what end? So the family could stare at them while they ate their lamb in silence? It was such a fucking joke.
“How’s school, Shauna?” her mother asked.
“Fine,” replied Shauna without looking up.
“All your classes are going well?”
“Look at your mother when she’s talking to you,” said her father.
Shauna looked up and met her mother’s gaze. The woman asked if Shauna was getting good grades and she said yes, even though she was getting a C average, which she decided was relatively good.
“You seem to go out quite a bit lately,” said her mother. “You come home late most weekends.”
Shauna didn’t know what to say to that, but she was interrupted by her brother anyway, who said she stayed out late every single Friday and Saturday.
“I hope you’re not drinking,” frowned her father.
She assured him she wasn’t as Malcolm snorted in amusement.
“Are you going out with new friends?” asked her mother. “Have you made new friends at school?”
Again Malcolm snorted. “Yeah, that’s likely.”
“Yes, I’ve made new friends,” Shauna nodded.
“How could you make friends?” Malcolm scoffed.
“Watch your tone, Malcolm,” their father scolded.
“I joined a club,” said Shauna.
“Oh, what kind of club?” asked their mother.
“Like a study group thing. I’ve told you about it before,” said Shauna. “This girl, Leanne runs it.”
“Well I’d love to meet Leanne and these other new friends,” smiled Shauna’s mother. “You should invite them over for one of your club meetings!”
“It’s not like that,” said Shauna. “It’s a school club. We meet at school.”
“Until midnight?” snickered Malcolm.
“I don’t stay out that late!” protested Shauna.
“You’re obviously going to bars!” laughed Malcolm.
“That’s not true! All I ever do is go to school! And what about you, Malcolm? You don’t go to school at all!”
“Oh yeah? Working where? The pot factory?” Her brother shot her a warning look, but Shauna kept going. “’Cause you seem to reek of pot every time you come home so yeah.”
“Is this true?” asked their father. “Are you smoking drugs?”
“Yeah right!” Shauna laughed, unable to stop herself. She just had to teach Malcolm a lesson. “So I guess that stash in your sock drawer is just oregano.”
Their father stood up, his chair making a screeching noise as he pushed it back. He marched upstairs and Malcolm looked at her with such venom she instantly regretted ratting him out. She was going to pay for this, whether or not their father found Malcolm’s stash.
“So Terry, your father tells me you play hockey,” smiled Monica, Terry’s father’s new mistress.
They were gathered around the dining room table, eating a catered meal. At first Terry thought Monica might have cooked it, but he’d spied a bunch of take-out containers in the trash. Terry confirmed that indeed, he played hockey, as he wiped the mashed potatoes off of Brittany’s hands. She proceeded to smoosh her food again a second later.
“That must be fun,” Monica smiled.
“And you go to John Abbott? I went there.”
“What, like last year?” snickered Evan.
Joey giggled and Terry let himself chuckle as well. Seriously, she was way young. To her credit she smiled at the joke and informed them that it had in fact been ten years since she’d graduated from CEGEP. So, that must mean she was about twenty-eight. Crazy.
“Did you ever find your real mom?” Joey suddenly asked Terry.
“No,” Terry shrugged, trying not to show how perterbed he was by the question.
“Just wondering,” shrugged Joey. Poor kid, he was fourteen now, in that zit-faced stage. Terry was so glad to be past that point in adolescence.
“So you back to banging Cerise yet?” asked Evan with a grin.
“Evan, let’s try to stay civil,” groaned John with irritation.
“Why, you still seeing Julie LaFramboise?” Terry asked, ignoring their father.
“Maybe,” Evan shrugged.
“You’d better not be,” frowned Terry.
“What do you care?” smirked Evan.
“He’s not even seeing her,” said Joey with an eye-roll.
“We still hang out,” insisted Evan.
“She doesn’t care about you, she’s into Terry!” laughed Joey. “It’s like, way obvious!”
“What the fuck do you know about it?” asked Evan.
“This is not dinner language!” said John with embarrassment. “Let’s change the subject.”
“Oh god, come on,” smirked Evan. “Your new girlfriend might as well learn what it means to date a dude with four asshole kids.”
“Get out while you can, Monica!” sang Joey.
Monica squirmed in her seat and smiled awkwardly. Brittany grabbed a handful of runny mashed potatoes and flung them at her, hitting Monica square in the nose. The moosh ran down her face, plopping down the front of her dress. Joey erupted into laughter as Brittany squealed with delight. Evan at least had the decency to look shocked before he suppressed a giggle. Terry remained composed even though he too wanted to laugh. John stood up and yelled at everyone, not even bothering to help Monica clean herself up. Shit, Terry felt bad for her. She almost looked like she might cry as she excused herself to go clean up in the washroom.
John sputtered, his face red. “Brittany! That is not ok! Boys, go to your rooms!”
“Why?” asked Evan. “We didn’t do anything!”
Brittany wailed and threw more mashed potatoes, hitting the walls and floor.
“Terry! Deal with her!” John bellowed.
Terry sighed as he took Britt’s plate away and cleaned her up with a napkin. He then carried her to the living room and put her in a corner, explaining that she needed a time-out for flinging her food. She wailed and cried and he held her so she couldn’t escape.
Joey stood outside the bathroom door and called out to Monica, telling her to get out while she could because this kind of crap would only get worse.
“You’re so lucky you got out of this place,” said Evan as he sat on the couch near Terry.
“You fucking kidding me right now?” Terry scoffed. “What the fuck do you do all day besides play video games and bang chicks? You know what I do? I fucking deal with this kind of bull every day!” he said, gritting his teeth and nudging his head towards the holy terror squirming in his arms.
“Well that was your choice,” Evan shrugged.
“Terry, make her stop crying!” John yelled from the dining room.
“You do it!” Terry exploded, standing up and letting Britt fall on her butt. “She’s your fucking daughter!” And with that he marched to the front door, grabbed his coat and went outside.