Tommy is taking Curt home to meet his parents for Thanksgiving. The only redeeming factor to sitting down to dinner with his family and their decade-old strained relationship is Tommy's love for his mother's cranberry sauce. What he's about to discover is that every great recipe, whether for relationships or cranberry sauce, has a secret ingredient that makes everything better. A short story from our Diversity line.
Curt pulled our Toyota Trooper between the Treadwells’ Beemer and their Taurus and cut the engine.
For all intents and purposes, the Treadwells are my parents, though I’d never called Mr. Treadwell, Dad, and but for the occasional scraped knee or hurt ego had I referred to the woman who’d brought me into this world as, Mom. In our family, military and high-society mixed as well as oil and water. Retirement had worked only to agitate that mix. Never had I seen see eye-to-eye with either of my parents, which surprisingly, had nothing to do with my being gay. I’d never mentioned it and they’d never asked. Did others’ parents flat out ask their sons such questions, I wondered.
I also wondered, sitting in their driveway, why on earth they’d invited me over for Thanksgiving after ten years of not even a phone call to wish me a Happy Birthday.
Jarred from my reverie, my gaze landed on the hand resting atop my leg. I met Curt’s placid expression with a scowl.
“You okay, babe?” he asked, looking as quiescent as usual. Nothing ever seemed to faze him. The reason I’d brought him on as a partner three years ago. Every law firm needed an anchor, one attorney who never lost his or her cool. God knows, that person wasn’t me.
Never would I pretend I was cast from such a mold, either. I pushed Mr. Easy-going’s hand back to him. Am I okay? “Can you please refrain from calling me that today? Is it too much to ask?”
Curt’s exhale came as more of a snort, and at the same time, he rolled his eyes and popped open his door. Nervous perspiration dotted my forehead. My breath caught in my throat as one shoe hit the pavement. I grabbed his arm.
“Aren’t you going to check your—your tie?” I let go of him as soon as the words left my mouth. What an idiotic thing to say. He leaned toward me, just enough to rest his head on my shoulder. I turned to look out my window.
“Today will work out. Besides, I can’t wait to taste your mother’s cranberry sauce.”
I shrugged, effectively dislodging him from my shoulder. Why I’d told him about the Treadwells’ homemade cranberry sauce, I didn’t know. Maybe I wished to recall one good thing about my family.
Would I ever live it down?
He continued, “I’m not worried. You shouldn’t be,” as he stepped out onto the driveway, straightened his tie, and shut his door.
His exuded confidence ate at my lack thereof, while my empty stomach reminded me of a different hole in the pit of my gut. “I should’ve grabbed breakfast,” I sounded off as I yanked on my door handle.
Curt met me at the base of the walk, one hand on the center of my back. “Everything will be fine. Trust me.”