Hard to Get
Eva's Most Personal Story
I was going to move to Thailand, but now I'm not.
This is what I tell Aunt Beth as I pull off my coat in her foyer. It's the first thing she asks about as my mother and I walk in.
“I thought you had rekindled the romance with Rob?” Aunt Beth squints at me through her heavily-mascaraed eyelashes.
“False alarm,” I say. Aunt Beth is the family gossip, so I'm hoping she'll spread this around, and I won't have to go through the whole spiel with everyone.
“He was a looker,” she says, still squinting. She never wears her glasses because she thinks they make her look old.
My mother makes a grunting noise behind me. She never liked Rob. She says he reminds her of my father.
“Those blue eyes,” Aunt Beth continues loudly. “So handsome. But love isn't just about looks, is it Danny?”
“Hey! What's that supposed to mean?” Uncle Danny shouts. He's stuffing our coats into the front closet.
“Don't yell! We're all right here,” Aunt Beth shouts back. It's a wonder they haven't gone deaf after twenty years of marriage.
We follow Aunt Beth into the kitchen. My other two aunts are stirring pots on the stove. My mother and I politely offer to help, but they shoo us away, which is a relief, because Aunt Beth is going into full-panic Thanksgiving mode, yelling about not having enough mashed potatoes.
In the living room, a few of my teenage cousins sit on the floor in front of the TV, and my grandpa is on the couch. He stands when he sees us and gives us big hugs.
Things have changed a lot for my grandpa in the three years since my grandma died. When she was in the hospital he started getting rid of their things: furniture, books, paintings, clocks. “What do I do with it all?” he kept asking. After Grandma died, he moved into one of those Senior Living complexes where they have game nights and potluck dinners. He seems to be doing okay now, but it's hard to tell. He calls up my mother sometimes to ask how to do laundry or boil an egg.
While my aunts cook, my mother and grandfather and I drink white wine and make small talk with the cousins who float in and out of the living room. I'm the oldest cousin, and I remember them all as toddlers. Now they’re in high school and college. My younger brother arrives with his girlfriend, but soon they disappear out back to play with Aunt Beth's dogs.
My mother refills our wine glasses, and then she, too, disappears, upstairs to one of the bedrooms to call the man she's currently dating. My grandpa looks at me. His cheeks and nose are pink, but the rest of him is white: white hair and eyebrows, pale, papery skin. “Gina,” he says. “Tell me about this moving to Thailand business.”
I sigh. “I was going to. But now I'm not.”
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