Guess Who's NOT Coming to Dinner



This story is a contest entry for The Ink Well - Prompt #40. You can find out about this contest and also find the great stories that are created from it by searching the replies on the contest post here.

Alicia jumped out of bed early eager to start on their first Thanksgiving dinner. After deliberating for days over where they would spend their first Thanksgiving dinner - her parents and his parents were of course having their dinners at the same time - they had decided to start their own tradition. Naturally, both sets of parents were not happy about this plan. And truth be told, a few harsh words were said while arguing over how to solve this dilemma.

But that was all in the past now, it was settled.

Alicia wasn't the best or most confident of cooks, but she'd been poring over recipes and watching cooking videos all week. Jared even went with her to do the shopping for all the feast ingredients. That was a rare thing because in general Jared didn't help with any of the household chores. He expressed the opinion that since he was working and Alicia was still looking for her first job after grad school that all the household duties should fall to her.

The turkey was roasting and filling the small kitchen with delightful aromas. The pumpkin pie she'd baked yesterday was ready and the yeast rolls were rising nicely in the corner next to the stove. A pitcher of cranberry margaritas was chilling in the fridge and the table was set for their intimate dinner for two.

Jared came out of the bedroom rubbing his tousled hair. "Hey, Alicia, I'm going to run over to Mark's house for a while, we need to work on our Fantasy Football team. Dinner's not going to be ready until around 1:00, right?"

Alicia came out of the kitchen with a look of incredulity on her face. "Are you kidding me? This is our FIRST THANKSGIVING and we are staying home to make it our tradition - you can see Mark any time."

"Aww, babe, don't be like that. You'll do better with me out of your hair anyway. See ya soon!" And he blew her a kiss as he hustled out the front door.

Alicia sank down on the sofa and put her head in her hands. Seriously? How could Jared even think of running out on her? This was supposed to be their time, family time. Visions of her own family, gathered together in their huge, noisy mess, all her brothers and sisters, nieces and nephews, playing games and chattering and laughing. And here she sat, all alone. For a brief moment, she thought about turning off the oven, grabbing the pie and pitcher of margaritas, and heading to Mom's house. But then she thought about the pitying looks and the hard questions she'd have to answer about why she was there alone after defending her decision to have Thanksgiving with her husband.

The timer dinged from the kitchen and she rose joylessly to tend to basting the turkey. Methodically she peeled the sweet potatoes and set them to simmer. The next step was mixing up the stuffing. Following the recipe she had displayed on her tablet, she realized they had forgotten to purchase the sage, a critical ingredient. Hmmm, she'd just text Jared and tell him she needed the sage right away, and could he please run to the store and bring it to her. That should get him away from Mark's and back home where he belonged!

She sent the text, fulling expecting at least a bit of argument from him, but received no reply. Frowning at the phone she went ahead with the other ingredients in the stuffing. Ten minutes later, there was still no reply. She fired off another text and waited, growing angrier by the minute.

After another fifteen minutes passed, she snatched up her phone and looked through her contact list for Mark's number. The phone rang twice then Mark answered, background noises making it apparent he was surrounded by a noisy crowd having a good time.

"Hey, Mark, this is Alicia, I've been texting Jared, and he's not answering. Could you get him to call me please?"

There was an uncomfortable silence before Mark admitted that he hadn't seen Jared and had not spoken to him today at all.

Alicia slammed her phone down on the table and clenched her eyes against the welling tears. The bastard! She knew now exactly where Jared had gone this morning. After PROMISING that he'd made a mistake and it would never happen again. To do this to her on today of all days, was the last straw.

A knock at the door broke her from her swirling thoughts. Who could this be coming to visit on Thanksgiving Day?

"Hey, Alicia, sorry to bother you, but do you have any whipped cream I could borrow? My poor frozen pumpkin pie is humble enough but I can't bear the thought of eating a piece without the topping." He chuckled and then stopped when he got a good look at Alicia's face.

"Umm, sure Carlos, come on in, you can have my Cool Whip, it doesn't look like I'll be serving my own pie." And she burst into tears.

"Whoa, Alicia, what's wrong? I met Jared earlier going out when I came back from my morning run. Did something happen?"

"Yes, something has happened. And not for the first time. But it's absolutely for the last time!" Alicia dried her eyes and smiled bravely at Carlos. "And hey, I have a great idea, why don't you join me for dinner? I've been cooking all morning and all my efforts shouldn't go to waste."

Carlos looked at her carefully and saw that she was serious. He had always thought that Jared was an ass and that Alicia deserved better. He'd only moved to the city six months ago and living in the apartment across the hall he'd spoken to Alicia several times. She was always kind and willing to chat and give him advice about good restaurants and where to shop.

"Well, actually that sounds very nice, and it certainly smells delicious in here. Much more appetizing than my turkey sandwich and frozen pumpkin pie. Let me lock up next door and I'll be back to help."

Two hours later Alicia and Carlos were seated at the dining room table and having a toast to being thankful for what they had and for new beginnings. The front doorknob rattled and turned but with the deadbolt engaged, the door would not open.

"Hey, Alicia, why the hell is the door locked, get over here and open it!" Jared yelled as he pounded on the door.

Alicia and Carlos looked at each other across the table and remained seated. Alicia picked up the carving knife and held it above the perfectly browned and juicy turkey.

"Would you like white meat or dark?" she asked, without so much as a glance at the door.







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