Writing Prompt: Day 210

210Day 210 of 365 Days of Writing Prompts: Write about a character’s family.

Shannon: My dad is a quiet, but caring man. He’s not the type you rant to about your week, or the type to pry with enough persistence to find out why you’re upset, but he’s always there and you can depend on him for that. He’s there to teach, there to fix your problems, and there to make you smile at every twist and turn.

My mom is so gentle with us, along with the rest of the world. Don’t take that as if she’s weak. No, I’ve seen her protect her loved ones with a vengeance. I’m just saying she does her best to do no harm in this world, and I admire her big heart. I feel lucky every day I get to feel that kind of love wash over me.

My sister is a honey badger, as that is the only way I could possibly describe her to make you understand. If you have ever met someone so sure of themselves that they’re not trying to please anyone’s expectations but their own, then maybe you understand what I’m talking about. She’s the most refreshing type of person you will ever meet. I’m so lucky she’s my sister, and I always find myself hoping a little more of her rubs off on me everyday.

Erin: Our family was small. Just my mom and me. It didn’t feel small most days, but as I got older it seemed to be shrinking. With age, it started to become very clear that my mother was trying incredibly hard to be every other person we could have had in our home. She would be stern like a father, we would bicker and play like sisters, she would look out for me like a bother. Sometimes she seemed to have a hard time distinguishing who she should be. I wish she would believe me when I told her, “just mom is enough.”

Even when your character is gone they are not fully gone.

2 thoughts on “Writing Prompt: Day 210

  1. The best part of the Campbell family gatherings are that I get to see how far downhill my cousins have gone since we last saw each other…so, I guess they always suck. See, being in a family of over-achieving weirdos and jerks make these kinds of events into competitions between, well, everyone; there aren’t any trophies or anything, but there’s a real sense of triumph and conquest that goes around like some kind of horrible, mutated cold. Though I’ve never really understood the pull to be better than any of my cousins or aunts or anyone, I have seen the feeling go right through the crowd. Usually, when we’re in groups of fewer than ten, there isn’t as much rivalry because everyone is already convinced that they are the best in the family. The same cannot be said for family reunions.
    The twenty-eighteen reunion, which was held in a very small town that hadn’t seen numbers quite like ours before, started out pretty innocently. As my family unit arrived, my mother, Jane, is actually related to these people, my father, Jack, who made the mistake of marrying into this family, and myself, we realized that we were the first to get there. That is the first accolade that is counted out by everyone; arriving at the place of lodging was usually won by Sylvia and Gunther’s large family unit of nine. None of us cared about being the best, but there was no way to pass on the first points, even if we cared enough to want to.
    We unpacked the van after parking in the twelfth spot in the lot and lugged our heavy suitcases into the large log cabin lodge. Standing behind the counter, in front of a towering carving of a grizzly bear in one giant slab of wood, was a greasy attendant who greeted us with a yellow smile and crinkly eyes. With the luggage piled into a questionable cart, Jack walked to the desk and signed us into our rooms; his eyes kept wandering to the glittering, unseeing eyes of the bear as he spoke quickly to avoid the inevitable meeting between the next family groups to arrive. Even just a few minutes at the beginning of a reunion of this magnitude, was enough to center oneself and take a breather.
    I gazed around the large foyer in wonderment at the wood panelling covering every inch of wall space, moose and deer heads mounted on plaques around the room and an mammoth stone fireplace that was ablaze with a cheerful fire. Dated fabric chairs and couches were clustered around the fire, as well as in small groupings with bone and leather lamps at uneven intervals to make sure no one forgot it was a hunting lodge. Chuckling darkly to myself, I distinctly recalled that Danielle and Dorian’s family were staunch vegetarians and hoped I was around when they finally arrived.
    After a few anxious moments of polite conversation, Jack turned back with a thumbs-up and we scurried to the elevator before anyone else could arrive. Before we agreed to attend, we had checked with this particular lodge to see how many rooms it had and made the unfortunate discovery that our family would be taking up the entire place for three days of non-stop hell. I didn’t blame the owners for allowing a crowd with such strained relationships to stay under one roof, but I did blame my parents for dragging me along for the ride. As we waited in the elevator, I realized Jane hadn’t spoken a single word since we left the house this morning.
    Stepping off, Jack fumbled the keys into what was a larger unit, as it included two separate bedrooms, and we finally entered the suite. With a large couch and a couple chairs aiming at a television that was crackling away with a fireplace blazing warmly from the screen, the main room was fairly cozy. There was a small counter with a mini fridge, coffee maker and some cups stacked in the corner off to the side in the entrance. Outside the window was a glorious, sunlit forest that stood calmly amidst the imminent chaos, and a small slip of a balcony beckoned in the stifling room.
    I dropped my bag beside the stained fabric couch and crossed to prop the door open minutely, relishing in the cool breeze that was riffling through the strong-smelling pine needles. After a few minutes I could hear screaming and furious bellowing coming from the parking lot and slammed the door with a stifled cry; I couldn’t risk them knowing we were there, no matter who it was who’d just pulled in. Stumbling back, I skimmed through my memories of family units and gasped, “John, Kathy and Judy have just arrived with their kids.” Shuffling their suitcase into the larger bedroom, Jack sent a sideways glance toward Jane, and she continued to hold the silence.
    With a shrug, I threw my own bag into my room, took a quick glance at the dark room and returned to find Jack polishing off a shiny new realtor’s badge he’d just been saying was too noticeable to wear anywhere. “I think you and I will go down for lunch, and your mother,” here, he shot her another glance as she sat blinking into the sun, before continuing as though she weren’t coherent, “will just hang out here until she regains her ability to speak. You know Dorian would just love to remind her how he’s made a career out of the piano with her unable to cut him off.”

    After that, the two of us headed to lunch, a buffet of seemingly-random food items, and braced ourselves for the onslaught of grandiose statements involving people neither of us cared about. It wasn’t actually as bad as we were expecting, though, Grandma Rose was the only one partaking in the luncheon, so we sat and chatted with her for a while. Being the matriarch of the family, and the real reason we all got together once every four years, Rose was the sanest of the entire group. She didn’t care what profession you were in or how good you were at crosswords, no, she just cared that you brought her a kiss and something she could pawn for pot; Jack gave her a silver chain he bought at a second hand store.
    When we said goodbye to Rose and were heading out the front door to pick up some snacks and soda from the corner store twenty minutes away, two vehicles pulled in at the same time and Jack self-consciously polished the badge. I froze, frantically deciding if we could hide behind the gigantic pine trees that framed the front door, but it was too late; the occupants of both trucks were already jumping out giving each other the customary Campbell greeting of angry and obscene shouting.
    By the time I decided against hiding in the trees, we were swarmed by the Sylvia’s large family of mathletes and lawyers. Tanya, the youngest, was already chattering away about taking on the biggest case her firm had ever agreed to from under a terribly feathered hat. Joseph, with his voluntary baldness, was recounting a victory against another college’s mathletes for what could have been the eightieth time to Jack as he struggled to break free. Gunther was screaming for help with the luggage as a mountain of bag came tumbling out from the back of the truck; a few split open on impact with the dirt driveway and there was much clamoring and shouting as the lot of them returned to retrieve their fallen items.
    As we were left to suck in deep, non-lavender-scented air, I was about to tell Jack to make a break for it when Dorian’s son strode forward with his father’s air of superiority and a flute case tucked firmly under his armpit. With a sigh, I grinned at the idiot whose only real talent was to blow into a pipe, and chirped, “Dion, you’re looking well and chipper for a fifth-place finisher in the race to the lodge.” Snarling through expressive lips, he turned on his polished heel and stalked back to the truck to cry to his father. “Let’s go before anyone else gets here,” I whispered as we finally headed for the car again.

    It was dinner by the time everyone arrive and was settled in, and Jane had magically popped up before the extravagant fireplace, ignoring anyone with the nerve to stand in front of her. After half an hour of bickering with the attendants and chef, Rose convinced them to move all the dining tables into the foyer so we could be sitting at one long and irritated table. Everyone, other than Jack and I, had stood back to watch the staff struggling to lug the solid wooden tables, and were now poised around in uncomfortable, handcrafted chairs.
    From one end of the table around clockwise sat Rose, Jack, me, Jane, John, Kathy (John’s second wife), Judy (John’s first wife), their four children who were enrolled in a prep school, Logan, Giselle (Logan’s knocked-up girlfriend), Douglas (whose wife just passed), Dion, Dorian, Danielle, their twin daughters, Jason (Rose’ pool boy), Sylvia, Gunther, Tanya, Joseph and Megan (their other daughter). Of everyone, nearly all had gone through some type of secondary school and were in the upper class, other than our family and, likely, Jason, though I couldn’t prove that. But, of everyone, I was pretty sure the four of us were the most happy.
    “Well, everyone, thank you for coming to what could be my last Campbell Family Reunion,” began Rose with her customary joke; since she was sixteen she’d said that exact thing. “Everyone should have already received their schedule for tomorrow, and it’s looking like a storm on Monday so we might have to skip the capture the flag tournament; we’ll see. Anyway, it should be an interesting few days here, especially as we have this whole building to ourselves. Let’s just hope there isn’t any foul play, eh?” she laughed, her wrinkled face crinkling. Though everyone chuckled along with the old woman, there was an odd, ominous feeling that seemed to touch us all at the prospect of foul play.


  2. “Hey, Heather.”
    Heather raises her eyebrows, to signal she’s listening.
    “I don’t know that much about your family.”
    “You really want to know my family tree?” Heather asks, sass layering her voice.
    “…It’s just… I know your grandparents, your parents, and your siblings,” Jacey states, “and that jerk of a cousin.”
    Heather sighs, “Well… I mainly interact with my dad’s side of the family. Which is basically my grandparents. He was an only child. My mom has a sister, who I don’t see too often. My cousin Erin is her daughter. My aunt and uncle divorced, but I think he got along with my dad more than his wife. Guy stuff, or whatever. He’s a police officer and would visit in the summer a few times. He’s a really kind guy.”
    “Why did they divorce? Do you know?”
    “…Mom and Dad said it just didn’t work out. But Erin took it hard. My grandma on Mom’s side is in a nursing home. Mom visits her sometimes. And Grandpa died from PTSD. He had fought oversees during some war and couldn’t shake it.”
    “Grandpa Noah is a veteran too, right?”
    “Yep.” Heather smiles; going over her family tree does help. “We’re small, but they’re still family.”


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