The Intercollegiate Literary Magazine

Family Dinner

I’m sitting at the kitchen table and you’re sitting across from me. It’s time for dinner. Outside the open window, dark clouds smear the horizon. I think there’s a storm coming, but you tell me to leave the window open. You say that we need the fresh air.

I look down at the table, at my empty plate. I don’t know how long I’ve been sitting here, waiting to eat. You remark that it won’t be much longer, that I must learn how to be patient. Your smile is the wallpaper of my childhood bedroom: 

yellow, faded, peeling at the edges.

It sets my teeth on edge.

From somewhere, I hear the faint notes of a piano. It sounds like it hasn’t been tuned in years. There was never a piano in the house before. 

Neither of us know how to play.

Someone is wrestling the broken keys, extracting a tormented song that oozes like pus from a lanced boil. I try to ask you about it, but 

the words are cut from my lips, bleeding out into the night sky.

I look back down at my plate and it is still empty. A ghostly face reflects across the blank white surface. I think that it must be mine. You ask me if I enjoyed the food. I don’t remember eating, but I tell you that it was delicious.

Outside, it begins to rain.