While at your friend or family gathering this week, make mental observations about how the meal is organized. Who prepared it? Who announces it’s time to eat? Who is served first and how is seating arranged? Who cleans up afterward? Do people linger over the meal or are they quick to finish? Who takes more than their share of food? All of these observations give insight into how people view themselves and others. Incorporate these observations into characters in your WIP, thereby giving them more depth.
LM wanted to help Hildreth and the other hunters prepare the Thanksgiving dinner, but his stiff, crooked wings kept getting in the way. Any other fey would simply pull their wings into the matching sacs under their back skin.
But LM was not a full fey.
He was half-human and half-fey. His mixed parentage affected his wings, making them deformed and inflexible. The trec lun bone at the top of his wings was a solid, unjointed bone. So, there was no way for him to pull his wings away and no way for him to use them for expression. His wings would never be able to flap or flutter or flitter. The best they could do was bristle.
He stood off to the side and watched the ruckus going on in the kitchen.
“All right!” Jeff Farsigh said. “We got the turkey all cleaned out and stuffed back up. Now we need to get it into the oven.”
“I’ll do it!” Kaneshiro Shinowa said.
“Uhh, no.” Hildreth Mayhew said. “No offense, Shiro. But you kicked the last turkey at the oven.” He tapped the side of his face with his index finger. “Although, it is a very unique way to go about it. Too bad the turkey wound up on the floor.”
“Face down, no less.” Jeff said.
“Splat and dead.”
“It seemed like the most time efficient way to get it in the oven.” Kaneshiro shrugged. “Besides, it was very heavy.”
“Okay!” Jeff said. “Enough talking. Hildreth, put it in the oven. Kaneshiro, clear all of the junk off the table. Jim-Marie—”
The young boy snapped to attention. “Yes?”
“Supper won’t be ready for a few hours. When it’s close to ready, I want you to peel the potatoes and chop them up for mashing.”
“I can help with that.” Kaneshiro said.
LM took a deep breath and exhaled.
Even though Hildreth, Kaneshiro, and Jeff seemed to be around the same age, give or take a year here and there, Jeff seemed to be the one in charge of everything. The other two men didn’t seem to mind or take offense. Even the young boy was unbothered by it all.
It didn’t quite makes sense to the half-fey. But he continued to watch them to figure them out.
The turkey scented up the kitchen. It smelled warm and deliciously meaty. LM left his corner to check it out. He approached the stove and carefully opened it.
Jeff appeared out of nowhere, somehow, and said, “Close that door. You’re going to let cool air in and you’ll ruin the turkey.”
LM closed the door and tilted his head.
Jeff pulled his wooden sword, Tsunachu, out of its scabbard.
The half-fey startled and stumbled back. “What?”
“Leave the turkey alone. Kaneshiro ruined one turkey with his madcap antics. I will not have you ruin the second one. Those things are expensive.”
LM stared, thunderstruck and lightning hit, at the sword in the former hunter’s grip.
“Out of the kitchen now.” He went into an attack position. “Or else.”
LM fled the room.
The half-fey spent the rest of the day hiding in his room. He thought about the three men. Such very different men.
They didn’t look alike.
There had different personalities.
Why were they such good friends? What connected them all together? What were the lines binding them?
Someone knocked on the door.
LM crept out of his closet. “Who is it?”
“Me. Hildreth. Hey. Supper’s ready. You gonna join us?”
LM considered saying no, just so he could avoid Jeff’s wrath. But the turkey’s scent had followed Hildreth upstairs.
It smells so good.
“I’ll be right there.”
The scent grew stronger and more potent as Hildreth and LM approached the kitchen. The half-fey kept sucking on his lower lip to keep himself from drooling everywhere.
Hildreth noticed and smiled. But he didn’t say anything about it.
“Is Jeff going to kill me?”
“What? Ohh. Did he threaten you with Tsunachu?”
“Sorry. He gets pretty intense about his turkey, especially on Thanksgiving. It’s like a primal thing with him.”
“I don’t understand him.”
“Don’t worry too much about that. Jeff is Jeff. He has a lot of bad stuff in his past. A lot of regrets. A lot of grief. Sometimes that comes out in his behavior. Sometimes it doesn’t. Like I said, he is himself. I’ve learned to just accept that about him.”
LM puzzled that one over as they entered the kitchen.
He sat next to Hildreth. Jim-Marie sat on Hildreth’s other side. Kaneshiro and Jeff sat next to each other.
And there was food.
So much food.
Plates and platters and bowls and tureens of food.
LM sucked on his lower lip in anticipation.
Everything looked and smelled so good. It was like one of the dreams LM used to have at the freak show.
He wondered if he were dreaming now.
If this is a dream, it is a great and beautiful dream.
Jeff prepared his plate. Everyone else waited until he was done. Then, they all dug in.
It was a glorious and disconcerting mess of men and food and plates and noise and laughter and forks and knives.
LM felt dizzy by it all.
Everyone settled into their seats with their full plates and ate.
Before LM could regain his equilibrium, Hildreth put a loaded plate in front of him.
LM looked up at him, wide-eyed and surprised.
“It’s all yours.”
LM’s back muscles twitched in a feeble attempt to flap his wings.
But his wings rustled instead.
The half-fey smiled. A little bit of drool escaped his mouth, but he didn’t care. He looked down at his plate of food and felt genuinely thankful.