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That one Christmas Eve I spent sprawled on the sofa without moving at all. I’d been granted leave of absence from the table by the elders of the tribe. I was convalescing, I needed to take it easy. But the family was in my field of vision and they were sensing my presence. Aunt Eliana brought me food on a wooden plate and complimented me on my tie. As she tiptoed back to the table I spotted her shoes: they were the same model as those worn by a distant cousin sitting catty-cornered from me, too far to put a name on her. The only difference was that my aunt’s shoes were brand new, I could see the sticker on the soles, ‘SALE 19.99’. No currency, mind you. Later, she turned to me and asked if I wanted more chicken. I said, “No, thanks. But I could use some wine.” She extended a bottle towards me, holding it by the neck, showing me the label. I nodded in agreement, although I don’t read French. In any case, that was the only bottle on the table — a table of muffled chit-chat and polite giggles. She filled my glass and I toasted the entire bunch, the loudest holler I could muster, “And a Merry-fucking-Christmas to y’all! Oh yeah!” Awkward silence ensued, outlived only by the clatter of cutlery. The kids shut up. No one addressed me, no one commented on my choice of words.
And I was wondering how long healing would take and whether it was worth the wait or, once fully recovered, life would still feel like going on a super loop ride at the county fair all by myself.


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