A child’s last memory

For those who were privileged enough to be present at a family function of the entire clan of ‘Meyers’; to witness the sight of an upper-middle-class family in it’s full plumage, have many times told tales of subconscious offensiveness and mild resentment sensed within the family. There was a silent war pulsing through our bloodlines, one that could never be won because no one seemed to know it was going on.

All our carefully composed faces and sharp features would question each other, our thoughts painful like barbed creatures. Even in pain we did not share a bond held carelessly by other families, but the ‘rebels’ like my Uncle John and Ken, with their lop-sided grins, carelessly put together clothes and flippant nature gained the snooty looks normally reserved for dying dogs on the side-walks from the lot of my family. Individuality was not entirely accepted, although we were allowed to be what we really were, frightened and vengeful, clawing and gnawing at anything we wanted.

We were all gathered in the dining room,spread out amongst ourselves like strangers engaging in painful small talk, while awaiting the arrival of my late Grandmother’s lawyer. He entered shortly after, clutching a brown briefcase in his hands. He was long and thin with his shaggy triangular head cocked sideways in a kind of bereaved gesture. I didn’t know what it was about him that I found so unsettling but the fear settled on me like a cold coat full of mist.

“Nice to see you all here again,” he began with a smile. I wondered if I were the only one to notice the slight condemnation in his voice as he spoke. The only other time we had all been together was two years ago, when my Grandfather had died. “Should we start?”

“We better,” my father gruffed, “We waiting long.”

A few of the ladies moved uncomfortably, I myself involuntarily smoothened my trousers. My father hardly spoke and when he did, it was always a cause of great discomfort.

“Alright,” he began as he took a seat at the vacant chair and plunged his hands into his briefcase.

I could feel the tension in the room, feel the lack of oxygen as everyone stopped breathing for a while. My Grandfather, wise man that he was, had left none of them anything, save a few pieces of furniture he might have well have gotten from the war. They all earned decent livings, but not nearly enough to sustain the image they tried so hard to upkeep. My mind drifted off as he began to read from the sheets of papers, but I could feel joyous breath being released all around me and I knew the old hag had made them happy for once.

They were all circling each other now, like a swarm of bees, making less strained conversation. I looked around them and realized that we were all a band of thieves and hypocrites, with scarce believers sprinkled amongst us like rare treasure, but most were good, or tried to be and those who weren’t, well… Morality existed only in the faintest of places but loyalty to each other above all else was expected, demanded. In my heart, I knew better but I still had hope. Hope that one day all the cleverly guised conflicts would end and it would not be because of great statesmen or churches like our own. It would be because we changed.


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