“I’m concerned about your future. I don’t want you to be a fuck up.” Johan’s father ran his hands through his salt-and-pepper hair, a solemn look etched on his face.
“Honey, you know your father and I love you, but…” Being direct was never his mother’s strong point. But this and but that — she never said what she meant.
Traditions were everything in Johan’s family. Whether old or new, those traditions were sacred. Like my father before him was the most tired phrase in his household. Johan craved freedom from the constraining customs thrust upon him, and that was something his parents could never understand.
“When’s the last time you left the house? You know when your brother was your age he —”
“Please don’t talk about Bill. For once in my life, don’t compare me to him.” Taking a deep breath, Johan crossed his arms across his chest, a muted frown appearing.
“Fine — I’m tired of this nice crap anyways. You’re coming tonight, hell or high water, you’re coming.” In a huff, Johan’s father left the room, forcefully slamming the door behind him.
“He loves you in his own way sweetie, he really does.” His mother really knew how to shine a turd. His own way, another trite phrase in Johan’s household.
“Yeah, I know,” He responded dully, too tired to argue.
“He’s right though, you really need to come tonight. It’s what we do, it’s what makes us a family — don’t forget that.”
If nothing else, Johan’s mother was a fantastic cook. Even Julia Child would have been in awe, she was that good. The savory smell of seared meat and caramelized onions wafted up the stairs, and Johan followed it begrudgingly.
Eating in silence, the family slurped down spoonfuls of mouth-watering chili. It was the best thing Johan had ever tasted, strands of saliva dribbled from his lips. The pot seemed endless, and he ate as if it was.
As Johan scooped out the remaining morsels from the pot with his fingers, his parents rose from the table together. With a snap of his wrist, his father pulled back the window curtains gleefully, “I’m sorry son, we didn’t mean to trick you — but it’s for the best” For a man claiming remorse, he was rather content with himself.
A full moon shone through the window, its pale light cascading in. A dismembered, middle-aged man was slumped against their recently repaired fence — the protein for the chill. No matter how hard he tried to resist his nature, Johan always found himself face-first in human flesh.
As the rays of moonlight struck him, Johan howled with sadness, crying for the man he wanted to be.