Hello all! This is a short story written by me the centers around the protagonist of a manuscript I wrote. In the manuscript he’s in his 30’s so obviously a lot has changed in his life but I decided to try writing about him as a 12-year-old. With Families Like These… is set on Thanksgiving and is narrated by a smart but socially awkward and sexually ambiguous boy trying to survive the holiday season. I’d be thrilled if anybody would take the time to read this and share their thoughts.
Trigger Warning: Verbal Abuse, Bullying, Self-Injury, Homophobia
Nobody in our family came over for Thanksgiving dinner this time. Aunt Nancy was supposed to come but she got sick. I was secretly a little bit relieved because she’s weird even though she’s really nice. She has schizophrenia so she sees and hears things that aren’t real and she tells me about them. It makes me uncomfortable because I want to tell her they’re not real but Dad said that won’t help. Last time Dad and I went over to her house she saw the scars on my wrists.
I was afraid she’d tell Dad and then I’d be in for it but she just looked sad and ran her fingers down my arm. I got a shiver and then she hugged me and said ‘don’t make them put you in a hospital.’ I told her I wouldn’t do it anymore but then I broke my promise. Originally Rachel and I were going to boycott Thanksgiving because it’s basically celebrating how the colonists tortured the poor Indians and took over their land.
Dad said if we boycotted Thanksgiving we would be eating PBJs for dinner. No turkey sandwiches either, him and Mom would eat everything good without us. Then he lowered his voice and said we better not stress Mom out or make her sad because her miscarriage this year has been really hard on her. I felt bad and apologized because I’ve been trying really hard not to make Mom sad. When Dad was out of earshot Rachel said to me ‘your face makes Mom sad’ and I punched her. I tried to hurt her a little bit but she just laughed.
She hit me harder and Dad saw that but he didn’t say anything. After we watched the Thanksgiving day parade today Rachel and I watched some MTV and she danced in front of the TV, which was annoying. She said I should dance too but I didn’t feel like it. She only makes fun of me anyway. Lately she’s been making fun of me for liking The Smiths. She said Morrissey is a proper knob. She thinks she’s so clever when she talks British.
When I fought with her about it she said ‘you take everything so personally. He’s just some stupid guy. Are you in love with him or something?’ Then she went ‘ooh Morrissey’ and made kissing sounds. I can’t believe she’s sixteen. She’s so immature. I was afraid Dad would hear her and think I said something weird. He’s funny about that. He doesn’t want anybody to think anything bad about me but I think it’s more about him than it is about me.
He doesn’t like the way I dress and sometimes he looks annoyed with the way I talk or laugh, like he can’t stand being in the same room with me. Mom says he worries about me but when I talked about being bullied he just said I was an easy target. It made me feel bad so I stopped telling him about stuff that happened at school. They like to call me names and I’ve started eating lunch with the teacher because I don’t have any friends. I don’t mind eating alone because I’ll just read a book but there are these boys who keep bumping my chair and they won’t do that in front of the teacher. They won’t hit me but they call me names and bump me with their trays.
One guy named Ross always says I’m staring at him but I don’t even like him. I just stare at him because he makes me nervous but he said if I’d stop acting like a homo he’d leave me alone. I said I’m not acting like anything. I’m just trying to have lunch. His friends imitated my voice and my dad has told me to fight back but if I fight one of them I’d have to fight all of them. Ross doesn’t look that strong but they’re always in a group. I hate hate hate being in the bathroom with me because they’ll always say ‘stop watching me, Warren.’
Maybe one or two of them will just ignore me if they’re alone but they make me feel scared. I told my sister I wanted to beat them up and she said she’d help. She wanted to go out with her new boyfriend Andy on Thanksgiving but Dad said there was no way that was happening. Andy is nicer than her last boyfriend Trent but Dad says he’s still a teenage boy and he doesn’t trust him as far as he can throw him. Andy works out so if he tried to throw Andy he’d probably just throw out his own back. I told Rachel that and she laughed so hard she said she almost peed a little. I like it when I make Rachel laugh but I like it even more when I make Mom laugh.
I wish I was funny at school. Being made fun of isn’t the same thing. I can’t help the way I walk or or the way my voice sounds so I don’t think it’s funny. I could dress differently but I like my style even if no one else does. The way the boys at school dress is boring and I don’t dress in girls’ clothes so I don’t see what the problem is. I like my hair too. I don’t think taking care of it is a bad thing.
I could cut it way shorter but that would be like showing the guys at school and my dad I’m scared of them. I am a little scared but I don’t want to show it. Rachel gets yelled at for what she wears all the time so she just hides it under her clothes for when Mom and Dad aren’t around. She thinks I should get a haircut too. She said I’d look tougher. I said she looked plenty tough with long hair and she said ‘aw, thank you. But I’m a girl. You don’t want to look like a wuss.’
At dinner we said Grace and I said the usual things like I was grateful for my family and having a roof over my head and then I said I was grateful for The Smiths. Rachel burst out laughing and Dad looked at me hard and said ‘who are the Smiths?’
‘They’re just some sissy band Warren likes.’
‘What do you mean by that?’
‘They’re just, you know, lame.’
I started to feel uncomfortable. ‘Dad, there’s nothing wrong with them. Rachel just doesn’t like them.’
‘Okay. I believe you.’ He started eating but he kept on looking at me and my stomach got upset. I knew Dad would yell at me if I didn’t finish at least most of my turkey so I started eating and he finally stopped giving me that look and poured himself a drink. Dad let me take a sip and it wasn’t good but I told him it was okay. It was actually pretty disgusting.
Then we watched It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown which is our yearly ritual. I sat next to Mom and then I put my head on her lap even though Rachel laughed at me for being such a mama’s boy. She stroked my hair and Rachel called me a lap dog and Dad laughed. He doesn’t laugh at her jokes very often. Mom ignored them and let me have an extra slice of pumpkin pie when everybody else had gone to bed.