Over the River 1

It’s been a long time since my last short story, and I’ve got an idea inspired by the upcoming holiday in the United States, as well as a poem I wrote last year.

“You kids have fun.” Alec leaned back in his chair and waved a hand towards the front door of his mother-in-law’s home. “You don’t need an old man like me slowing you down.” His son and his cousins forgot about Alec’s apology as they raced out of the room, choosing sides for their touch football game as they tugged on their jackets.

Alec tilted his chair back into position at the dining room. Stella’s sister had left for the kitchen during Alec’s discussion with the children, so Alec’s was one of three occupied seats of the eleven that had been arranged at the large oak table.He was seated toward the end closest to the bay windows looking out on the front yard; across the table at the other end, close to the kitchen doorway, was Umberto, smiling weakly as he had all that afternoon. Stella had been surprised her uncle had arrived for Thanksgiving, so soon after his wife’s passing, and Alec had been watching him all afternoon.

Sitting directly across from Umberto, three chairs away from Alec, was the man Alec was determined to have a private conversation with before leaving that evening.

“American politics is like a pendulum.” The man whom Alec knew as Todd waved his meaty hand over his gravy-strewn plate, swooping it down from his right and then back up near the center of the plate.We’ve swung over to an extreme this year, but political gravity will pull Washington back to the center, and then –” he swooped his hand back down, then over the plate — “we’ll be back to the other extreme.” Todd spoke with the cool confidence he expressed on any topic, from gardening to government, football to physics, and in years past Alec had regretted only hearing Todd speak this one day of the year (he never visited for the December holidays). But today, Alec found himself annoyed at Todd’s self-assurance.

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