“Ugh. I ate so much I could burst,” said Matt. “That was an amazing meal, dear.”
Alison smiled. It was her first time making Thanksgiving dinner for the family.
“I agree,” added Alison’s dad. “It was wonderful.”
Her mom, smiled meekly. “The turkey was a tad dry, but not bad for a first attempt.”
The smile dropped from Alison’s face. Matt and Alison’s father exchanged uncomfortable glances.
“Well, I thought it was just great. The gravy was amazing,” added Scarlett, Alison’s sister.
“It certainly made up for the dry turkey,” said her mother.
There was a lingering doom in the air as everyone waited for Alison’s response.
Matt broke the tension. “Need help clearing the table?”
“I’ll help,” added Scarlett.
“Cowards,” whispered her father. He stood up and left the room. “I’ll be in the bathroom.”
Alison sat across the table, glaring at her mother.
“What?” asked her mother.
“Really? Everyone says something nice and all you can do is criticize?”
“There’s no sense coddling you. How will you learn if I don’t tell you the truth?” said her mother.
“Mom,” said Alison, shaking her head, “I swear, it’d kill you to actually give someone a compliment.”
Alison’s mom recoiled. “I can do that.”
“Dead, face first in the mashed potatoes, right now,” said Alison.
“Are you challenging me?”
“You chickening out?”
“Well, your chicken wouldn’t be as dry,” said Alison’s mother.
Her mother rolled her eyes. “I suppose, the gravy was acceptable.”
“I believe you.”
“Not out of a can or some package. It’s the real deal.”
“I said I believe you.”
“Then give me a compliment,” said Alison.
There was a long pause.
“Well?” asked Alison.
“I guess the apple doesn’t fall that far from the tree,” said her mother, reluctantly.
Alison’s jaw dropped. “That’s what you could come up with? A backhanded compliment for yourself?”
Alison’s mother smiled. “Remember when you were a teenager and you blamed me for ruining your life?”
“What’s that got to do with anything?”
“If I’m responsible for all the bad in your life, then I’m taking credit for the good.”
Alison’s eyes narrowed. “Well played, mother. Well played.”