Dad made pancakes in the morning, and Mom helped out by adding blueberries and bananas. The kitchen turned into a cook off and the rest of us were too groggy to watch. I studied Auntie Cara at the table. She looked really tired. She shouldn’t have stayed up so late. She had a sad smile as she watched her brother and her sister-in-law battle with spatulas.
Mom made me set the table. Nana and Grandpa cooed over the pancakes then blanketed them in butter. Dad made tea, and Cara surprised us by standing up mid-meal and putting on bacon.
Nana leaned back from a cleaned place and rested her hands on her stomach. “What a meal, Kerry. You know, Scotty, you might have a keeper after all.”
“Thank you, mum,” said Dad, “it’s only been nine years.”
Every tensed but nothing happened.
Nana was too busy being happy.
We spent the day in the sun, which I hated.
Every few hours Mom would call me over or run me down to put on sunscreen. It was the thick stuff that takes forever to rub in.
“Why only me?”
“Because you’re pale and you’ll get cancer without it.”
“Can’t we just stay inside?
“And do what?”
“I can’t wait until you’re back in school.” It was another one of those meant-to-be-under-the-breath moments. “There. Done.”
“You didn’t rub it in.”
“You were squirming too much. Get your dad to do it.”
I wandered down to the dock keeping my hands out from my sides. I didn’t want to touch me, I felt like I would stick. I found Dad lounging in a lawn chair he’d pulled down to the lake. The book he was reading was the size of my head.
“Dad, Mom didn’t rub the sunscreen in enough.”
“Can you rub it in?” He looked over with a smile. I’d fallen for this too many times.
“Maaaan, are you ever white! Ho-leee! I’ve never seen somebody so goopy and pasty andwhite!” I was already walking away. “If you were a super hero you’d be the Pale Boy Wonder! We could stick you in a circus–” I hated my Dad.
Grandpa grabbed me on my way inside.
“Sean! Let’s take the boat out.” He had his captain hat on and was bending his knees like the boat was making a break for the other shore and not tied to the dock. I was angry at Dad and the sunscreen and the sun so I tried really hard to match his silly smile.
Nana always warned Grandpa to go the speed limit. He did, sometimes. We did loops of the lake, and big lazy S turns just for fun. We zoomed by the dock and tried to get Dad wet, then made a getaway to the other side. On the way back Grandpa let me wear his hat, which I held onto with both hands in the wind.
“Dad wants to make an alliance with you in the monopoly game.”
“Oh I bet he does. Smart cookie, your dad.”
“Don’t trust him.”
“Everyone is out to get you since you won last year.”
Grandpa frowned. “I guess they would be. Come on, lets see how fast this thing can go. We need to get back for dinner.”
Mom was making dinner with Auntie Cara. Everyone else was out enjoying the last of the sun. I hated the sun.
“Sexist bullshit,” said Mom. I pretended not to hear.
“Don’t let you-know-who hear that.” Cara looked over at me. “Or your kid, for that matter.”
“Why are we cooking the dinners? When does Ed ever cook?”
“You know that’s how things work in their house. It doesn’t change when they’re at the cabin.”
“Scott better be making tomorrow night’s.”
“Does this have anything to do with competing with that meal, ‘any good wife can do on the fly’?” Mom starts cutting faster.
“Of course it does!” Chop chop chop along the board. “She had days to make that! I–ahh!” The chopping stopped and Mom sucked her finger into her mouth. I froze and the stool I was on started swaying. I could hear them in the background.
“Here put it under cold water. No, the water in the bathroom is colder, try the tub.”
“It’s nothing, I’ll be back in a sec.” Mom left and then Auntie swam into view.
“Sean, you okay.”
“Yes.” Things were getting clearer.
“Kerry will be okay, it’s a little cut don’t worry.”
“What’s for dinner?” I asked.
“A stir fry with big, fat, wonton noodles.” Auntie Cara Dangled one for me to see.
“I don’t think Nana and Grandpa like stir-fries.”
Cara dropped the noodle. “You’re probably right.”
“They won’t have anything to butter.”
She laughed then coughed into a cloth. She looked at it and something scared her. The stool started wobbling again.
“Hey, it’s okay Sean, it’s okay.”
“What’s going on?” Mom was back.
“Sean’s just worried about your cut, he’s a little dizzy.”
“Oh Sean, I’m fine.” Mom holds me. I look over her shoulder.
Cara’s wrists looked skinny as she bundled the cloth and threw it away.
Grandpa rapped my knuckles with his fork for not waiting for grace again.
“Cara, why don’t you say grace?” Asked Nana.
“Sure.” She held out her hands to either side. We all grabbed hands, Nana and Grandpa disapproving.
“Oooooh, the lord is good to me, and so I thank the lord–“ It was a campfire sing-a-long. Grandpa got into it pretty quick, swinging his big hands in time. When Nana saw this she smiled and got into it too.
Dinner was still warm by the end of grace and I dug in. Nana and Grandpa pecked politely.
“So Cara, what was that job thing you didn’t remember?” Asked Dad.
Auntie tensed, then her shoulders slumped. “There is a ship doing marine biology work off Newfoundland. They’d like me to come a long.”
“Oh, wow. Government group?”
“No, through Dalhousie but with tons of government funding.”
“You’ve got to be excited.”
“I can’t go.”
Grandpa’s eyes swivelled fast towards her. “Why on Earth not?”
“Doesn’t fit with my schedule. I think it’s best if I stay in Toronto.”
“In Toronto doing what?”
She shrugged. “More of the same.”
Grandpa spent the rest of the meal pushing a noodle around his plate in hard, short, motions.