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A Preferred Interpretation
“Dinner’s ready!” the girl heard her father yell from across the house.
“Coming,” she replied as she pushed her book aside. She left her room as her brother did the same. As he passed his sister, the boy pocketed his cell phone. The father was already seated when the brother and sister arrived in the dining room. The mother was still bringing the meal to the table.
After all were seated and served, the father looked across the table to his daughter. “So, how was school today?” he asked, as he did every night.
“Good.” She summarized the day’s events as briefly as possible to satisfy her father. To the father, the girl seemed to be the more open of his children. As long as no signs were evident that her grades were dropping, he was content with her.
He then turned to his son and asked the same question. The boy sat hunched over his plate, ignoring his father’s question. He had no intention to let his father into his life, unless he could get a new videogame out of it. The boy just wanted to finish his meal and return to his computer. The mother pleaded with her son to open up. Though the boy closed his father out, he was an overgrown mama’s boy. He began to tell an amusing story about his friends goofing off during lunch, but as soon as his father asked him to clarify, the boy fell silent. His attitude immediately went foul and he refused to utter a single other word pertaining to his life.
The family ate in silence for awhile, until the father inquired his wife on her day. The wife gave him a vague answer. She felt as if her husband didn’t include her in his life, so she had begun to shut him out. She was quick to ask about his day, before he could request that she elaborate.
The father began to tell about in unnecessary detail. He listed what he ate for lunch and elaborated on his workday “adventure.” He thought he was being more open with his wife by telling her these stories, but he neglected to tell about the conversations with his family, as he often did. These untold conversations would undoubtedly come back to haunt him by fueling his wife’s anger.
The mother finished eating and began to clear the table. The father soon finish, leaving his plate on the counter for someone else to clean. The son followed his father’s example and retreated to the solidarity of his room.
The girl lingered over her plate until her mother had finished with all the other dishes and both parents had retreated into their shared room. She cleaned her own plate before becoming the final member of her family to disappear into a bedroom.
She sat down at the computer. The girl opened a word document and continued the story she worked on every night.
‘…and the girl left the table as she did every night; happy. She was glad that her family had worked together to put the meal on the table and clean up afterwards. Rather then just going through the motions, they all truly cared about what was going on in everyone’s lives. As soon as her brother could find the game, the four of them would play Monopoly. They would add ridiculous rules to make the game last as long as possible. Hours later, they would all go to bed, looking forward to Saturday’s plans.’