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Authors: Anne Warren Smith

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BOOK: Turkey Monster Thanksgiving
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“Who are you inviting?”

“Oh,” I said, “you wouldn’t know them.” I pushed past her into the hall.

“Who?” she asked.

I yanked open her front door. “I have to go home now.”

“Only twelve days left,” she sang.

I ran across the street.

Chapter 4
“Don’t Even THINK about Company!”

W
HEN I GOT HOME
, I stepped over the toys on our porch and the dirt and leaves on the floor in the hall. But I didn’t see the Legos. I slipped and fell down. My elbow whammed the closet door. “Dad!” I yelled.

“In the kitchen,” he called back.

I walked a narrow path between toys and newspapers and jackets and shoes. In our kitchen, the stove did not shine. Grocery bags, cans of spices, and cereal boxes spilled across the counters. The sink held three banana peels, Tyler’s toast edges, and five old coffee filters.

“I slipped on some Legos,” I said. “My elbow’s broken.”

“Rub it,” Dad said. “It’ll feel better.” He poured hot water from the kettle, making another cup of coffee. “Tyler’s dump truck had a serious accident. We should close the highway.”

“Claire is right,” I said. I couldn’t believe I was saying such a thing out loud.

Dad wasn’t listening. He stirred the coffee grounds with the tip of a knife and added more water. He sniffed at his mug and smiled. “Ahh,” he said.

“Claire’s house looks nice,” I said. “Like a real family lives there. You can walk around without falling on things.”

“No three-year-old at that house.” Dad sipped and swallowed. “Makes a difference.” He sighed. “We’ll pick up things later. Right now, I’ve got this deadline. This report.”

“It’s okay, Dad. Except …”

He raised his eyebrows.

“They’ve got food cooking. And invitations. And decorations.” I picked up a banana peel and tossed it into the trash.

He set his mug on the counter and stared into it. “Maybe they want everything to be the way it was before Claire’s mother died,” he said. “Before the accident.”

“Because they miss her?”

He nodded.

I thought about that. “We miss Mom, too,” I said. “She’s been gone three years. But at least she’s alive. We still get to see her …”

“Your mom is doing something hard, trying to be a professional singer.” Dad put his arm around me. “But she loves it. You know that she loves you and Tyler, too.”

“I wish we could see her more.” I blinked at something in my eye.

He cleared his throat. “Christmas. You’ll be with her then. At your grandma’s.”

I pushed my nose into Dad’s flannel shirt and smelled coffee and books and sadness about Mom. “If she was here,” I said, “we’d do Thanksgiving better.”

“Maybe.” He tipped my head up so I was looking at him. “Aren’t we doing okay without her?”

“Most of the time, we do fine,” I told him. “But we should plan something special.”

“Katie …”

“At least we should dress up,” I said. “Mom gave me a dress last Christmas.”

Dad nodded. “I remember it.”

“I think it’s in my closet,” I said.

He smoothed my bangs out of my eyes. “Wear your dress. But I really like wearing pajamas on Thanksgiving.”

I shook my bangs back down. “The Pilgrims didn’t wear pajamas. They dressed up and cooked special food. They had company.”

“You forget Flagstaff’s report,” he said. “It’s due Wednesday night. I’ll be working on it all week. If we have to celebrate, we can’t do it on Thursday. We’ll do it the next Saturday. Or Sunday.”

“Thanksgiving dinner has to be on Thanksgiving Day.” I grabbed another banana peel and threw it in the trash. “I like planning things. I planned your birthday last summer.”

“You’re a great planner.” He patted the top of my head and grinned. “All right,” he said. “Plan dinner for us. Plan decorations. But no company. Don’t even THINK about company.”

As he went down the hall to his office, I pushed breakfast dishes to the other end of the big table. I found a pencil and pad of yellow paper.

“DECORATIONS,” I wrote. I’d draw things. That would be easy! I’d get out my big roll of paper and draw Pilgrims and Indians and turkeys. Put them up in every room. I wrote “Pilgrims. Indians. Turkeys.”

New piece of paper.

“WHAT TO WEAR.” I tapped my pencil. “Me—my dress. Find it.” I stared down the hall toward Dad’s office. Would he change his mind? No, he wouldn’t. I wrote, “Dad—best pajamas. NOT purple smiley-face ones. Tyler—train jammies.” He loved his train jammies. He had four sets of them.

Next list.

“FOOD. Popcorn. Pizza (Dad’s famous).” I pictured it. Extra melty cheese for me. Heaps of onions and garlic for Dad. Whole black olives for Tyler to wear on his fingers. Yum! I couldn’t decide on the best dessert. Strawberry ice cream sandwiches? Lemon-yogurt popsicles? I wrote them both down. On such a special day, we would have two desserts.

Before I reached for the next sheet of paper, I thought a long time. My decorations were terrific. My food was wonderful. If only we could have company!

I made sure Dad was in his office where he couldn’t see me, and then I wrote two words in big, dark letters:

GUEST LIST

Chapter 5
Monster!

B
Y SUNDAY MORNING, I
had a bunch of lists.

GUEST LIST

DECORATIONS LIST

FOOD LIST

GROCERY LIST

WHAT TO WEAR LIST

They looked great! I tacked each one, except for the guest list, onto my bulletin board. The guest list I hid in my sock drawer

So far, that list had only nine people. Mr. and Mrs. Anderson from next door, plus Nancy, the lady who brings the mail, plus Sierra, my best friend, and her mom and dad. Plus Dad and Tyler and me. Nine! I needed lots more.

Sunday afternoon, Claire and Mr. Plummer gave up on putting their turkey on the roof. It was too big. Instead, they set it on the lawn where it glared at everyone who walked by.

Tyler peeked out the front window. “We should have one of those,” he said.

“You wouldn’t want it if you could see it up close,” I teased him. “It’s a mean turkey.”

“Mean turkey? A monster turkey?”

“There’s no such thing,” I said.

Dad came to look. “I don’t know how Claire’s dad finds time to do so many projects.”

Tyler tugged at the drapes. “It IS a monster,” he said. “That turkey monster’s looking in here!”

I pulled the drapes closed and made it dark in the living room. We turned some blankets into caves and pretended bats were flying out of the ceiling light. Then, we switched from bats to turkey monsters. Tyler kept peeking through the drapes.

“Help, help,” he yelled. “Turkey monster’s opening his mouth!”

I made my voice low and scary. “Turkey monsters come to life on Thanksgiving Day. They eat kids.”

“Run, kids!” Tyler shrieked. Then we raced across the room and leaped into our blanket caves. We did that over and over until finally Dad finished his office work and made us put away the blankets.

Later, while Dad washed Tyler’s dinner off in the bath, I found Claire’s magazine. According to
Beautiful Living
, everyone in the United States, mother or no mother, would be celebrating Thanksgiving the way the Plummers were doing it. Every kitchen would be cooking lots of food. Every house would be decorated inside and out.

I flopped down on my bed with my decorations list. Where I’d written TURKEY ON THE ROOF, I crossed out ROOF. My turkey would go on the front door. Best of all, my turkey would be a happy one.

While I cut and colored, I kept trying to think of more people for my guest list. I imagined bunches of them sitting at our pretty table getting ready to eat fifteen kinds of food.

But if there were going to be guests, I’d need invitations. Baby turkeys would make perfect invitations. I got more paper out and pretty soon a big flock of baby turkeys lay all over my bed. On Thanksgiving Day, people would line up on my sidewalk. They’d stretch around the block like at the movies, all of them waiting to come to my wonderful dinner.

I didn’t hear Dad put Tyler to bed. I didn’t hear him come up behind me until he was right there. “Those look like invitations,” he said.

Snip! Off went a baby turkey’s head!

“I told you, Katie,” Dad said. “No company!”

All at once, words I hadn’t planned to say came out for my mouth. “These are for practice, Dad. For next year.”

“Ah,” he said. I could tell he didn’t believe me.

I reached for the big turkey. “This one’s for the front door. What do you think?”

“Not evil enough,” he said.

“Dad!”

“No, really. I like the smile.”

“I made a grocery list.”

He raised his eyebrows.

“Next time we go to the store, let’s get some stuff to go with our pizza. I can cook some special dishes ahead of time. That’s what Mr. Plummer is doing.”

“Hm,” he said. “Don’t you have any homework?”

“I had to draw a picture. That was all the sub gave us. Ms. Morgan’s been sick. I hope she comes back tomorrow.”

Dad turned the big turkey upside down and balanced it on its head. Then he made it peck at scraps of paper on my bed. “You like Ms. Morgan pretty well?”

“The whole fourth grade likes her. She’s wonderful. Oh, I wish
she
…” Dad looked at me.

“I mean,” I said, “next year, maybe we can invite Ms. Morgan to Thanksgiving dinner.”

“But not this year,” Dad said.

“Okay, okay.” I gathered up the little turkeys. “These were a waste of time.”

“They’re cute,” Dad said. “Use them for decorations.”

I sighed. “I’ll stick them on the windows. They can look out.”

“Good idea.” Dad reached for the newspaper and went to lie on the couch.

Look out at nothing, I thought. Only an empty sidewalk, empty front yard, empty driveway.

No long lines of happy people. No one at all coming to my dinner.

Chapter 6
Room Father Strikes

O
N MONDAY MORNING, MS.
Morgan was back.

I was so glad to see her, I couldn’t help myself. I imagined her sitting at my Thanksgiving table. I heard her gasp as she admired all my decorations. “May I take a picture?” Ms. Morgan would ask.

But I couldn’t ask Ms. Morgan to Thanksgiving dinner. I couldn’t ask anyone at all.

“Take out nice paper,” Ms. Morgan was saying. “We need to write thank-you notes to the baker we visited before I got sick.” On the board, she wrote a list of words we might need. Then, she wrote a sample note with the date and “Dear Mr. McKenzie,” at the top and “Sincerely yours,” at the bottom. “Write the middle part in your own words,” she said.

I wrote:

Dear Mr. McKenzie,

Thank you for giving us rolls to eat. I think you are lucky to work in a bakery. I’m sorry you have to get up when it is still dark.

Sincerely yours,

Katie Jordan

Everyone else was still writing. I pulled out another piece of paper. Just for practice, I wrote:

Dear Ms. Morgan,

Please come to our Thanksgiving dinner.

Sincerely yours,

Katie Jordan

As soon as Ms. Morgan started to pick up our thank-you notes, I stuffed the practice Thanksgiving invitation into my pocket.

Ms. Morgan looked at each note as she picked it up. “Very nice,” she said. “Very nice.” When she got to me, she looked surprised. “Especially nice,” she said. And then, she winked.

Why was she winking?

She picked up all the other notes. Had I spelled
bakery
wrong? I checked the board. No, I’d spelled it right.

Someone knocked at the classroom door.

Mr. Plummer stood there, holding a tray of cupcakes.

“Room father at your service,” he said.

“This is a surprise,” Ms. Morgan said.

“I brought these to celebrate your return. Chocolate cupcakes.”

Everyone cheered.

Claire’s dad placed the tray on Ms. Morgan’s desk. Then, he winked at Claire and slipped an orange envelope under the tray. Fourth grade was full of winks this morning.

Mr. Plummer glanced at his watch. “Got to get back to work,” he said. He waved at the whole class, almost like Santa Claus, but without the ho, ho, ho. As he went out the door, I stopped smiling about the cupcakes.

I’d seen the orange envelope before. Mr. Plummer had just invited Ms. Morgan to Thanksgiving dinner. Now, even if Dad changed his mind about company, she would go to Claire’s house. Not mine.

Chapter 7
Things Get Worse

I
N THE SCHOOL BATHROOM
before recess, I took out the practice invitation. I couldn’t even bring myself to read it. I ripped it up and threw the tiny pieces into the toilet. I flushed three times.

My lists were at home. I couldn’t wait to flush them, too. If I couldn’t have Ms. Morgan for Thanksgiving dinner, I didn’t want to do anything.

Claire went to ballet on Mondays after school, so Dad pushed Tyler in the stroller to pick me up. Since it was raining, we crowded under Dad’s big striped umbrella. As soon as we turned the corner of our block, Tyler started to howl. “Don’t let him peck me.” He shook a stick at Claire’s turkey.

“That was just a game,” I told him.

“He eats little kids,” Tyler whined. “Keep him away from me.”

We parked Tyler’s stroller on the front porch. As soon as I got inside, I ran to get the
Beautiful Living
magazine, the door turkey, and the flock of little turkeys. I threw everything into the trash.

“You don’t have to worry about Thanksgiving dinner,” I told Dad.

“How come?”

“It’s too much trouble. I’m not going to do it.”

“Great!” Dad said.

That night, Dad made his famous stir-fry. First he fried up onions and garlic. Then he threw in whatever veggies were getting bendy in the refrigerator. On stir-fry nights, Tyler ate peanut butter sandwiches. First, he stuck them full of holes with his chopsticks. Dad passed me the soy sauce and smiled at the face I was making. “He’s going through a playing-with-his-food stage,” he said.

“He’s sickening,” I said. All at once, I was mad about no Thanksgiving. Mad at Tyler. Mad at Dad. Mad at Mom for going off and leaving us. I pushed back my chair and stood up. “We’re a stupid family!” I yelled.

BOOK: Turkey Monster Thanksgiving
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