1407 c/o Jason Lee Norman

Invitation to a Miracle

My brother showed up four years late for dinner. My mother made the same dish every night until he finally arrived home. It was a chicken dish that was my favourite until about six months into her standoff or protest or whatever it was. The chicken was good with my father though because chicken did not cause his gout to flare up. Sometimes even the smell of a steak cooking would make his big toe swell up with gout and he would stomp around the house like an ogre.
      It was a Tuesday when my brother arrived with his new wife and new dog and new car. The first thing he did when he came into the house was walk up behind my mother while she was at the stove, turning over a piece of browning chicken. He came up behind her and kissed her on her left cheek and said,
      “What’s for dinner mum?”
      Just chicken, Tom.
      Chicken for the last thousand days chicken, Tom.
      Long time no see, Tom.
      Then his new dog comes into my room and messes up all my scrolls.
      Jeezus Christ Tom, get your dog outta my room. He’s messing up all my scrolls.
      At dinner Tom chewed with his mouth open and said things like, “this is great chicken mum.” Or “so tender mum”, and made lots of mmmm sounds. He told us about what he’d been doing for the last four years while his new wife fed pieces of chicken to the dog. He told us about the ‘miracles’ he saw. The northern lights and the Grand Canyon. Sunsets on beaches and over the Rocky Mountains. They camped out in the desert one night, underneath a Joshua tree and counted stars while the dog chewed on mulberry bushes. They went surfing at high tide, dove for pearls, caught fireflies.
      My father kicked him out before dessert. The next week mum made steak. Dad had seconds.

      Mum invited Tom and his wife for Thanksgiving. I told her to tell him to leave the dog at home.