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Ethel for Dinner

“Why can’t we eat yet, Mama?” Danny Gates rubbed a sleepy eye and looked up at his mother.

“I told you, Danny — I invited Mr. Stevens to Thanksgiving dinner, and we have to wait for him to arrive.” Betsy tussled her son’s hair and returned to rolling flour for noodles.

“Willard Stevens is a strange old man, Betsy. ” Pete was ready to eat, even though he didn’t really understand this new holiday. He would have rather been out tending the herd, but his wife said this meal was important.

“He’s sweet, Peter. He and his wife are just lonely. “

“Wife?”

“Yes. Ethel. Talks about her all the time at the restaurant.” Betsy winked at her husband. “Besides, he’s bringing the turkey. “

Pete raised his eyebrows. “Guess we’ll wait, then.” He stood and walked to the front door.

“You won’t believe this!” Pete exclaimed.

“What?” Betsy joined her husband in the doorway.

“Looks like we’ll be waiting awhile for our meal!” An old man shuffled along the path leading to their cabin.

He carried a live turkey in his arms.

“Mr. Stevens!” Betsy stepped out to greet him. “So nice to see you. Um, is this the turkey you brought for dinner?”

“Oh, yes!” He smiled broadly. “Quite!”

Betsy wrung her hands — she hadn’t counted on killing, cleaning, and cooking the bird. It would be evening before they ate!

“Oh, I see.” She tried to hide her disappointment. “Well, didn’t Mrs. Stevens come along with you?”

“Mrs. Stevens?” The old man frowned. “Oh, no, dear. I’m not married.”

Betsy was confused. “But … you said Ethel was coming to dinner with you.”

“Yes, indeed!” He broke into a broad smile again. He thrust the turkey forward. “Betsy Gates, meet Ethel. My best friend in the whole world!”

Published inFictionFlash Fiction

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