In honor of his promotion, Lena had made a celebratory dinner. Robert didn’t have the heart to tell her he’d
been fired that morning. The seven of
them sat around the dining room table in silence. Robert preferred silence. It was his thinking time, his time to plan
for the morrow. The squawking of the
children distracted him, and he wasn’t interested in Lena’s trifling concerns
over curtains or immunizations or making arrangements for boarding the slobbering
Lena handed him the gravy boat. He made a well in his mashed potatoes with
the silver ladle, a wedding gift from a distant relative. He returned the gravy to Lena who handed it
to the eldest child. The silence was
punctuated by clattering silverware and the occasional murmured requests for
potatoes or broccoli or bread.
Robert ate around the edges of his potatoes, careful not to
make a break in the wall. He didn’t like
the gravy glopping all over his plate, mixing with the applesauce and the
carrots. He chuckled. His boss had just told him this morning he
was too risk-averse.
He’d asked them to call him that. A stupid request.
He looked up. They’d
paused, expectant, forks mid-air. “What?”
“You laughed, just then.
You broke the silence.” It was
the fourth child. The brave child. Phillip. Robert glanced at the child’s plate. “You eat potatoes the same way I do.” Robert realized that he was looking at an
image of himself, in miniature. The
child resembled him in every way, except for his courage.
“Are you feeling all right, Robert?” Lena pressed a cool hand to his
He brushed it away.
He wondered idly
whether Phillip would grow up to become Robert; whether he, too, would be so
involved with his career that he wouldn’t notice himself reflected in his
children seated round him at the dinner table.
He dragged his fork across his potatoes. Again he broke the silence. “Who’s up for a game of catch after dinner?”
Labels: fiction Trifecta Writing Challenge