Fierce Fiction (Thanksgiving Edition): We Have Beauty On Our Side Nov27

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Fierce Fiction (Thanksgiving Edition): We Have Beauty On Our Side


A short Miranda story written by Aimee Swartz

We played football on Thanksgiving. Lucky for us, it was always sunny, except for the blizzard that cancelled everything. We hadn’t been to school in eight days, and Mom and Dad stayed home, too. They worked for the city and all offices were shut down, not just because of the snow, but because of the lines that fell and were buried with everything else. Usually they complained about their jobs, about punching in at the time clock, and about my dad’s foreman, who my dad said always had food caught in his mustache and smelled like erasers. But these days when you said you worked for the city instead of at the mill, it sounded like bragging.

It was so cold that year we were only allowed outside to walk Rosie to the end of the driveway and back to do her business. I had never heard of this rule, but I didn’t protest. Carla was starting to say things that made me think I was too old to play in the snow, anyhow. I had outgrown my snowsuit and when I asked for a new one for Christmas, I heard her say something under her breath, too quiet for me to understand but loud enough that I knew it was about me. We did nothing childish that day and instead painted our nails with two layers of Silver City Pink and a no-chip top-coat so they would look especially nice when our hands were folded to say grace at dinner.

Dad loved tradition, and our family didn’t have enough of them, he liked to remind my mom. Thanksgiving football would go on. The teams were the same as always – my dad, me, and Carla. Uncle, Aunt Ginny, and Roger – an old man who lived in their attic who everyone called Buddy. Buddy played football way back in high school and would have played in college if it weren’t for the war. Buddy was the only person we had met who went to college and I have to admit he seemed a lot smarter than even my favorite teachers, particularly when he finished crosswords. He met Aunt Ginny and Uncle at church and then became roommates after his wife died. We never had a grandfather, so we liked Buddy, even though he was old and slow.

Our team always won even though it was three adults against one adult and two kids. “You have youth on your side,” they liked to yell after Carla scored a touchdown. Then my dad would say, “We have beauty on our side, too!” and wink at us and maybe give a high-five. I swear I never got tired of hearing that.

I did not particularly enjoy sports, but I did love the thrill of winning, even if it was only in the privacy of my own backyard. Carla was not an athlete either, but she born fast and was never tired. I heard her tell the twins more than once that she was the star and it was true – there was no game without her.

Carla was a vegetarian the Thanksgiving it snowed. I hated turkey and wanted to be a vegetarian too, but my mom forbid me and Carla got mad. “Vegetarianism is very serious, Miranda, you can’t just become a vegetarian whenever you want,” she said, and she meant it.

I didn’t think I liked the idea of eating animals any more than she did. I loved animals and intended to be a vet or a vet assistant when I grew up. We were on a roadtrip to go leaf peeping day we saw a tractor trailor overturned with chicken feathers and who knows what else scattered across both lanes. Carla begged my dad to call someone, but he didn’t know who to call, so we just kept driving in silence like nothing happened.

Carla cried on and off the whole day just thinking about the chickens. I had never seen her like that. I could tell that she really meant it and it wasn’t just for show. It wasn’t until we were almost back home that I understood that the chickens were probably all dead; I just thought they lost feathers. Then I cried too but that night at dinner I didn’t think twice about eating the cube steaks my mom had made—a family specialty because the original cube steak machine was invented by my mom’s great grandfather. Carla refused even this and was been a vegetarian ever since.


Photo Credit: Ann Althouse/