Thursday, August 2, 2012
His mother’s soft rap on the door that alerted Mark to close the pornography displayed on his monitor. She didn’t mind his locked door and always knocked since he was fifteen, just after she had taught him to clean his own sheets.
“Coming,” he said and moved across the room.
He unlocked the door then opened it. His mother waited with the phone pressed between her shoulder and chin, the antenna pointed out through her blonde hair making her look like a robot.
“Your father thinks we should have game night tonight.”
“Okay,” he said.
“He wants to get sandwiches. Do you want your regular?”
She turned away. “Just get him his regular sandwich. He said game night was okay. I assume he’s not going out tonight.”
Mark closed the door.
Hours later, dark outside, his father pushed open the door with bags of food in his hands and a cold wind that rushed over his shoulder and into the living room where Mark sat with his brother. The wind chilled his toes and he jumped to his feet to help his father who even though the bags were heavy and awkward was trying to kick off his shoes.
“Help me get this food to the table,” his father said handing him bags. “Actually don’t set anything on the table yet because some of the food is hot. Set it next to the table and we’ll get some mats.”
“No problem,” Mark said.
His parents had been careful with the dining room table since they bought it five yeas ago. At first he couldn’t eat at it unless it was with his family and even then his brother couldn’t play near it. A natural cave or headquarters was off limits.
He retrieved the mats, large cloth squares with butterflies, and set them out. His father stepped into the archway his shirt unbuttoned exposing his white shirt.
“Have your brother help,” he said.
“He won’t listen to me.”
“Okay. Cory! Come help your brother.”
Then he was gone and his brother slowly made his way from the living room, looking back at the television as long as he could.
“What did dad want?”
“You to help me set out the food,” Mark answered.
“I hate doing this stuff,” Cory said. He walked to the bags and picked them up, carried them to the table.
“Set them on the mats,” Mark said.
“Okay, whatever,” he responded and pushed the bags to the nearest mat. “Are you going to get the plates?”
“I’ll get them right now.” Mark turned away. Times like this he was jealous of his brother who could be lazy and slow, who could complain.
He took a deep breath and let it pass though and went about trying to be civil. They were slow to come to the table and even more slow to start to play the game of Life as they ate. They played through each round as they ate and Mark was trying to keep his patience with his younger brother. His father stepped away from the table when it wasn’t his turn to check his phone and email on his computer. The bond was slowly dissolving when Mark found himself pulling a fateful card to get married.
“That’s it,” his mother said. She sounded out the wedding procession music with her tongue.
Mark reached into the box and found the second pink piece and held it up.
“Maybe in a game,” Mark said, “but not in real life.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?” she asked.
“Married to a girl?” Cory asked.
Mark laughed and looked to the empty seat where his father had been sitting.
“Or a boy these days,” Mark said.
“Only in some states,” his mother added before she sat back and rubbed her hands together.
“I don’t want to be married to a girl,” Cory said.
Mark looked to his mother. He felt motivated by the date he had had to do something but he sensed his mother was holding onto her regal, conservative sensibility as she watched him. But he felt they already knew, should have known. He wanted to push the limits.
Mark picked up the little blue piece representing a man and dropped the pink back into the box then slowly under his mother’s watch he placed the piece into his car. She looked to Cory who didn’t seem to understand what was going on.
His father appeared in the doorway.
“What did I miss?” he asked upon approach.
“We all went,” Mark said. “It’s your turn now.”
His father sat, barely noticed the board. He reached for the spinner.
“And your son got married,” his mother said.
“Good for him.”
“Look at the piece,” his mother said.
His father looked to board.
“Mark’s,” she said.
“Which one is that?”
He motioned with her head and he looked to the board where he saw the car and smiled.
“Well,” he said, “that’s a boy piece.”
“I found myself a partner,” he said.
“He’s not going into business,” she replied.
“Well,” his father said, “well take it out and put in a different piece. I’m sure he’s just goofing around. You’re just goofing around right?”
Mark looked to his mother who bit her lip and looked to Cory. There were too many reservations in her eyes, too much not being said.
“Cory go to your room we have to talk to your brother,” she said.
“What?” Cory asked.
“Cory go,” his father commanded.
“No don’t,” Mark said pushing away from the table. “I don’t want to play anymore.”
“What’s going on?” his brother asked.
“Nothing,” Mark said. “You can play your fucking game.” He walked from the room through the hallway and up the stairs to his room. He closed the door and pressed his back to it.
Whatever he thought about his parents, whatever he thought they knew and accepted, was all gone in a moment of their doubt. His anger burned in him. He balled his fist. He wished he had smashed the game, shoved it off, thrown it really but then he thought about Cory who didn’t know what was going on and he didn’t feel such regret for long. No, he did the mature thing. He wanted to yell, kick, punch but it all felt so useless so he sunk down to the floor.