STEVEN JERAL HARRIS
"So, do you have any other family members? Is there anyone else we should be aware of?” Kenya asked.
"My Uncle Frank."
"Oh, yes, your Uncle. And what about your father, is he still around?"
I freeze all of a sudden. My eyes fall onto my empty plate. I open my mouth to speak, yet the words take forever to come out.
"He left me when I was a baby, so, um...”
Somehow I can't continue.
A hush sweeps over the table.
"Well..." Kenya says in an uplifting way. "...we should all tell Iva a little about ourselves. If we want to survive we need to get along. Let’s start with me. I was born in Africa but raised in America. I’m the daughter of a teacher and a doctor. I’m a very spiritual person. The thing I love to do the most is simply enjoy life."
She looks to her right at Jessica.
"It’s your turn Raven," she notifies her.
Jessica places her fork down before speaking.
"Hey, I’m Jessica,” she says with a cheek full of food.
She’s definitely not good with table manners, but it complements her tomboyish approach.
“My real name is Raven." Jessica continues. "I like to play the drums and, um, I’m a big movie buff. But I’m mostly into action movies," she takes a pause to think, "um, I’m very easy to get along with."
Eric snickers next to her.
"Just don't make her mad," he says quietly out the side of his mouth.
"Why did you have to say that?" she looks at Eric with her face flipping almost instantly with rage.
"Say what?" he plays a fool, keeping a straight face.
"You know what you said," she counters.
"You two stop this nonsense." Kenya says with seriousness.
Kenya breaks to shake her head.
"I swear you two should've been named Cain and Abel."
"Who would be Cain?" Jessica asks Kenya.
"You would." Eric adds confidently.
"Why am I Cain? You’re the annoying one," Jessica fires angrily back at him.
"Because you are always flipping out on people, that’s why," Eric shoots back.
"Both of you are Cain!" Kenya shouts straightforwardly, breaks for a sigh, and continues.
"Next please," she says while soothing her forehead.
Maria and Jason are snickering uncontrollably.
Daniel just shakes his head and continues eating.
"Hey, I’m Eric. My real name is Aero. I love doing fun stuff, you know, like jumping out of planes. I’m a hardcore adrenaline junky."
“Don’t forget to mention starting trouble,” Kenya looks into his eyes fatally.
Eric looks away. She slowly shifts away from Eric and looks at Maria, who is giggling under her breath.
She eventually stops snickering and joins the conversation.
"I’m Maria. My real name is Athena and, um…" she ponders for a moment. "… I like shopping and doing cool stuff. That’s about it."
Kenya smiles and almost laughs. She nods to Jason and says…
He straightens his posture and smirks.
"I’m Jason. My real name is Courage. And..." his thought lingers for a moment, "I love cars and baseball, you know, regular guy stuff. That’s pretty much it,” he says in his cool tone.
Soon everyone turns their attention to Daniel.
He looks around slowly at everyone and puffs out air.
"I’m Daniel. My real name is Mane. And I..." the words are stuck in his throat, but he gives up trying to force them out. "...I don't know."
He pauses for a lingering amount of time before sliding his chair back.
"Thanks for dinner," he says to Kenya and walks around the table, out of the dining area, and upstairs.
I hear a door shut close in the distance a moment later.
"Don't worry about that Iva," Kenya says. "my son can be odd sometimes. Just ignore him. He likes to be alone."
“A lot,” Maria adds. “He’s, um, a little weird.”
"All geniuses are," Kenya adds. "He’s very intelligent. He locks himself in his room for hours solving his puzzles. Ironic, isn't it? He can solve anything but himself," she shakes her head.
“You haven’t eaten all day. You’re not hungry at all?” Maria asks me, looking down at my empty plate.
“No, I just can’t stomach food right now.”
“If she is not hungry, just let her be.” Kenya tells Maria.
“Not even for peach cobbler?” Jessica asks me. “Shiva makes the best deserts.”
I smile modestly at the thought of a nice plate of warm peach cobbler.
“If you want some, it’ll be done in five minutes.”
Kenya informs me.
I let the idea linger for a second longer.
“Okay,” I give in.
Soon, Kenya is placing a small plate of peach cobbler in front of me. I grab the fork and look around at all of the eyes staring back at me, waiting. I lift the silver fork off the plate and adjust it between my fingers. You can hear a faint crunching as I sever through the crispy outer layer. I poke into the small portion with my fork and mix it into the syrupy peach sauce before putting it inside my mouth.
The perfect blend of butter, the sweetness of peach, and a hint of tart, drives my taste buds crazy. I smile at everyone as I swallow down.
“So, what do you think?” Kenya asks, grinning hard.
“This is…” I take a break to gather my thoughts, “…the best peach cobbler I’ve ever tasted.”
“Thank you. It’s always good to hear a compliment now and then,” Kenya says.
“I wish my mom could cook hers like this.” Eric says as he takes a bite of his.
“That’s because your mom’s taste more like wood.” Maria makes fun of Eric.
“I can’t argue about that one,” Eric agrees.
“Hell no, I’ll still choose wood any day over your mom’s food bro,” Jason adds.
Our chuckles grow into genuine laughter...
Soon everyone says their goodnights before breaking into our separate rooms. Jason winks at me and then says, ‘catch you later’, before going into his room.
Watch out for the next episode... New episode reads on Thursday