Author's Note: I've wanted to write this story for really long time, but I kept putting it off for other stuff. Then yesterday I got to thinking about it, and it seemed like the perfect chance to get it written. 'Cause I've done a fic for Christmas and a fic for Halloween, so hey, why not Thanksgiving too? Bit of a warning though . . . it's not a heart-warming tale. And you might not want to eat any Thanksgiving leftovers while you're reading it.

Summary: It's Thanksgiving. Abby is ten. If you've seen the episode "Rescue Me", you'll know what to expect.

**********

MY 11th THANKSGIVING

**********

Mom is going to pitch a fit. I stayed at Dad's house way longer than I should have. It is my responsibility to get myself and Eric to and from each house, she says. She does not want to deal with Dad, so it is up to us kids if we want to see him on holidays, or any other time. I knew she would be mad that we decided to go to his Thanksgiving this year, but she says herself that it is not polite to turn down invitations. And Dad invited us. But I did not plan on eating so much, or staying so long, or not being able to get Eric to come home with me. I wish he would have come home with me. This was going to make her really, really cross.

Cross. I decide to think about that word while I walk. My fifth grade teacher, Mrs. Brien, taught it to me. The word, I mean -- not how to walk. Cross means to be peevish or irritable. Of course, it can also mean "two intersecting lines" or "go across", like how I am crossing the street right now. They hung Jesus Christ on a cross, too. Being crucified is what that is called. I do not like that word so much. It sounds mean and sad, and I do not know why God would let something that is mean and sad happen to His only Son. If I were God, I would not let people crucify my son. I told that to my mom once, but she laughed and asked me if I would rather let the entire human race suffer and go straight to Hell. So I asked, "Don't people still suffer and go to Hell?" She told me to stop being sacrilegious. I have been trying to figure out what sacrilegious means ever since. I thought it might be something like "saccharin" (Mom puts that in her tea), but that might be wrong.

I did not realize how fast I have been walking. My house is right at the end of this sidewalk. Maybe if I slow down some I will not be so full by the time I reach my front door. Why did I eat so much turkey at Dad's house anyway? That was really stupid. Every year Mom makes enough food to feed a billion people . . . and now she will be the only one hungry enough to eat anything. I am making too many mistakes today. If I had only left Eric with Dad, that probably would be okay, but I should not have let myself be late and full. Sometimes I just forget how mad Mom gets when she is sick.

The house smells nice inside. I take a deep breath and the air feels thick in my lungs because it is weighed down with all the turkey, dressing and dessert smells. My nose tells me there is a pumpkin pie baking somewhere. That makes me happy and sad. Happy because I have not eaten any pumpkin pie yet, but sad because my mom remembered that pumpkin pie is my favorite. I bet she has whipped cream to top it too. This was going to make it harder to apologize. None of the excuses I can think up for being late seem good enough now that I know she remembered to fix me pumpkin pie. If she had forgotten that one little thing, it would be so much easier to walk into the kitchen. But I have to go in there anyway because she heard me open the front door. She is calling my name.

I stand in the doorway and watch her whip the mashed potatoes with an eggbeater for a while. All the other food is ready on the counter and it looks delicious. I try to tell Mom that, but the eggbeater is so loud that she either does not hear me or ignores me. From the way she cranks her arm and lets the silver beaters thump against the bowl, I can tell she is very cross. She is like two different people sometimes, and the mad part of her does everything harder and faster than the nice part.

"Where have you been?" she asks.

I am not sure if she wants the reason for why I am late, or if she really does not know where I was. She forgets a lot when she is sick. I have to remind her to get dressed and go to work some days. I am lucky to have a great memory.

"I went to Dad's house, remember?"

It surprises me how quiet things get when she switches off the eggbeater. Eric always leaves the TV on when he is home, so I expect Mom to notice and ask about him, but she just looks at me. I hate when she does that. I never know what to say or do. The bowl bangs loudly against the counter when she slams it down, and I almost laugh because flecks of mashed potato shoot up and get caught in her hair. Her face is turning red, though, so I press my lips together hard and hurry over to grab the bowl. My plan is to put it on the table with the rest of Thanksgiving dinner. Stuffed or not, I am going to fake hunger and eat again.

"The food smells good, Mom."

"Is that all you have to say for yourself? I have been awake since 7 in the morning preparing this meal . . . alone, no help whatsoever. Look at my hands. I will probably have scars from peeling those damned potatoes. Just because you and your brother want them does not mean I feel like cooking them every year.

"And you come waltzing in at half past two like you are the Queen of England and I am supposed to grovel at your feet, and I get no explanation at all? We were supposed to be eating an hour ago. What, your father doesn't own a clock? Or a phone? Is he a Neanderthal?"

Neanderthal. I say the word silently to myself a couple times so I will remember to ask my teacher about it later, along with "sacrilegious." Whatever it means, I am pretty sure it is not good. Mom calls my dad names a lot, and most of them are words she says will get me into trouble if I repeat them.

"I'm sorry. Dad asked us to stay and play a few games with him after . . ." I skip the rest of that sentence. "I forgot to watch the time. But it's okay, isn't it? You didn't have the potatoes finished anyway, so I'm not really that late."

Mom stares at me again, and I feel like the dumbest 10-year-old in the world. My apologies are not even done right. Eric would have said something silly and then hugged her, and she would have forgiven both of us. And he is only six. I just made things worse. I am ruining Thanksgiving. I know that is what she thinks. Right now I hate her and Eric and Dad and Thanksgiving and Mrs. Brien and Jesus Christ and pumpkin pie. I wish she would nail me to a cross and get it over with.

"You know what?" She grabs the bowl from me, and one of her long fingernails hits the rim and cracks. "Just get out of my sight. Go back to your father's house."

"But . . ." My mind wants me to call her a Neanderthal, but my tongue is smarter than that. "I don't like it there. Your food tastes better than Dad's."

A whole new person is standing in front of me for a minute, and I think I must not be so dumb after all, if I can trick my mom into being nice with compliments. But it does not work for long. She is turning back into the old, mean person right before my eyes. She is like a fairytale witch who can be pretty, then ugly, then pretty, then ugly. I bet she chopped up Hansel and Gretel and baked them into my pumpkin pie.

"So, you ate with him? Knowing I was making all this food?"

"Well . . . no."

It is too late to lie. She knows the truth without me telling it. I start to feel what Mrs. Brien told me is called panic. P-a-n-i-c. It is spelled almost like "pain", but the letters are in a different order and there is a C. I before E except after C. Don't eat at Dad's house before Thanksgiving at Mom's.

"Liar."

I give her a mean look. I do not like being called a liar. That is not what I am . . . that is what she is. I fib sometimes to stay out of trouble, but only if I have to. She lies whether she has to or not. That makes her a real liar, and real liars go to Hell. And that is not being sacrilegious -- that is being honest. I decide I will tell her the truth so she knows I am not a liar. But it comes out all wrong.

"You're going to Hell for saying that. You're going there and you won't ever get out." I do not know where these words are coming from, so I cannot stop them. "And me and Eric and Daddy will spend Thanksgivings in Heaven together without you!"

If I was fast enough, I would get an oven mitt and grab my pumpkin pie and run, but my mom is hardest and fastest when she is sick. I keep forgotten that stuff today.

"Oooh . . . honey . . ." The way she says that gives me goose bumps. She wants me to know I am in big, BIG trouble. Maybe the biggest trouble I have ever been in.

I have not thrown up since I caught a stomach virus in third grade, but I feel like I could do it now. I could puke a whole Thanksgiving meal onto the kitchen floor, and then my mom could be happy because I would have room for another meal. My throat is starting to burn, too, but Mom is doing something I did not expect. She is stealing my idea and throwing *her* Thanksgiving to the floor first. The bowl of mashed potatoes explodes like the fake volcano in science class, white mush splattering over everything.

"You are never . . . getting another meal from me . . . again," she says. She grunts as she slams dishes full of Jell-O and deviled eggs around her feet. She slides on the mess but does not fall, and when her hand comes up from the counter this time, she is not holding food. She is holding the knife she uses to cut the turkey. "You want Thanksgiving in Heaven . . .?"

"No." I shake my head so hard my hair whips me in the face. I do not even hear myself screaming until I am in the living room, trapped on one side of the couch. She is on the other side, and I can still see the knife. I think she already forgot what she is holding, but I have not. It is sharp and shiny and ready to crucify me.

My memory is no good now. I cannot even remember which way my bedroom is as I run through the hall and crash my shoulder against something. I do not look back to see what it is because she is right behind me. She is yelling, but my screams are even louder than hers. We go all through the house like this. We run. We trip. We scream. But I am not sure if she is crying as hard as I am. My tears are so blurry that I can only see what is right in front of me, and I almost miss the open closet door as I run through the hall again. I fall inside the closet and bang my knees. There is a thump on the door right after I slam it shut. She is out there pushing, trying to get in.

"Abby! Open this door!"

"Go away," I shriek. My hands are slipping on the doorknob because she is turning it. She is a lot stronger than I am. Strong like a witch who cooks children in an oven after chopping them into a million pieces. I do not want to bake in an oven. I will already be burning in Hell for a long time because of what I said.

"If you don't get out here this minute . . ."

I fall backwards into some coats when she gets the door open a crack and shoves. It gives me an idea, though. I drop right on my butt and kick both feet out like I am jumping. The door hits the bottom of my shoes so hard my teeth click together. But with my back pressed against the wall and my strong legs locked in front of me, she cannot get in.

". . . I'll paddle your ass from here to Christmas."

"You're gonna kill me!"

"Believe me, I would if I could get away with it!"

It is very loud in this tiny closet with her banging on the door. The darkness makes it sound even louder because it is like I am surrounded by nothingness, only noise. I want to plug my ears, but I am too afraid to lift my hands off the floor, and the coats are too high above for me to hide my head in. I begin to wonder if my mom has already killed me. Maybe this is Hell. If it is, I would rather be in the devil's red-hot furnace.

There is a new noise now. Something that thunks on the door and makes me shake. I cannot see my mom, but I know what she is doing. She is going to chop down the door with the knife. She is going to hack it to bits, and I will be next. I start to pray that God will disappear me to my Dad's house so I can play Monopoly with him and Eric again. I think for a second that it really worked. The chopping stops. But then I hear my mom's breath. She is panting . . . or gasping.

"Oh . . ." Her voice is soft and ready to cry. "Abby . . . I cut myself."

I stare into the darkness and do not move. She is the real liar.

"Abby." She sounds like Eric when he falls down and gets hurt. "I . . . I'm bleeding."

She bakes children in pumpkin pies.

"Abby . . . Abby . . ."

She is not trying to get in anymore. She just says my name over and over, until it is as sad and mean a word as "crucified." I should not open the door, but I have to see if she is okay. I do not really want her to go to Hell.

Her eyes are big when she sees me peeking out of the closet. I wait for her to yell, but she is only crying. The knife is on the floor and her hand is bloody. She shows it to me like I will know what to do.

"It hurts," she says.

I am good at making cuts better and she knows that. It is why she wants me to help her.

"It's not very deep," I tell her. But all she sees is the blood and it scares her. I am brave, though, and not afraid of blood. There are much worse things than blood to be afraid of.

I leave the knife where it is when I take Mom to the bathroom to clean and bandage her hand. She is not like a witch now; she is whiny and wants to be hugged and talked to like she is a baby. I have decided to be on my best behavior for the rest of the day, so I give her just what she wants and pretend I do not care about what happened in the kitchen or the closet. But when she is resting in her room later, I sneak downstairs, get the knife and throw it under our back porch where she will never think to look for it. I also clean the kitchen till it is spotless. No one will ever know what happened there. No one will ever guess what Thanksgiving was really like.

I even try to eat some of the pumpkin pie, but it was in the oven too long and got burnt around the edges. Burnt pumpkin pie tastes nasty. I make sure to dump my slice deep down in the trash so Mom will not see it. Everything needs to be nice and neat so she will not get mad again. But she never does come downstairs the rest of the day, and when I go up to get ready for bed, she wants me to sleep with her. I let her have her way because it is Thanksgiving and I am a good girl and she hurt herself. But I do not sleep tonight. I lay awake and try to think of things to be thankful for. I decide I am thankful for dark closets that stay open just when you need them to, I am thankful that my six-year-old brother did not listen to me and had sense enough to stay at our Dad's house today, I am thankful for blood that makes small cuts look worse than they really are, and I am thankful that it will be a whole year more until Thanksgiving comes again.

**********

THE END