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“Marvin, I have a secret but I’ll only tell you if you promise not to tell anyone else!”
“I promise I won’t tell,” said our little cousin in his high-pitched voice.
The room was filled with the smell of roasted ham and freshly baked chocolate-chip cookies. All of the grown-ups were seated around the long table in the center of the room. It was set with a delicate white tablecloth, and the centerpiece was made up of a cluster of small flickering candles. Instead, I sat in a short cheap plastic table that was set up temporarily in the corner of the dining room. Surrounding me was a dozen of obnoxious food flicking kids.
It was Christmas day, and all of us were at my Grandpa’s house for dinner. The dining room glowed with colorful lights that had been draped across windows and the mantel above the fireplace. The Christmas tree was decorated with shiny glass ornaments and a fluorescent star placed on the top. I sat next to my younger cousin Marvin, and I watched as he flattened his mashed potatoes out with the back of the fork. His plate was still full of food, and it looked like he hadn’t eaten anything at all.
My older cousin, Amelia leaned in close to Marvin and pushed her long mahogany hair out of the way, “Haven’t you ever wished you had super powers?” she continued, winking at me. “All you have to do is wait until you graduate second grade. That’s when Susan and I got ours.”
Marvin immediately dropped the fork into the mashed potatoes, wide-eyed, and turned to me, “Really?!”
A smile stretched across my face as I joined in on the lie, “Really! But you have to swear to never tell anyone!”
“I swear!” he promised, “Can you fly? Or shoot lasers out of your eyes?”
“No, but Susan here, she can turn invisible,” Amelia claimed, trying not to smile after the words came out of her mouth.
“Can I see it?”
“No! Of course not!” I said, trying to sound disgusted as I joined in on Amelia’s lie. “You wouldn’t want us to be exposed.” I had to turn away from Simon so he wouldn’t see me laughing at him. “Plus, you can’t even see invisible.”
“I can’t believe this!” Marvin was shaking his head back and forth. “I’ve waited all my life to have super powers, and I’ll finally get them in only one year!”
“You can’t tell anyone!” Amelia stressed.
Other people at the table were starting to join in the conversation, all of them in on the joke.
“Yeah, and I have X-Ray vision.” I heard come from across the table.
“I can breathe underwater!” Someone shouted.
Amelia and I glanced at each other and burst out laughing, but this seemed to go unnoticed by Marvin.
“I bet I’ll have the best superpower. Better than all of you. I’m going to shoot fireballs out of my hands.”
“No, that’s not how it works,” My tone was serious. I was really getting into it now, “The superpower chooses you. You don’t actually have any say in it at all.”
I wonder what kind of superpower I’ll get. I bet my mom will know.” He stood up and dashed over to the main table.
“No!” I protested, but I was laughing too hard to stand up and chase him. Now that he was gone, Amelia gave me a high-five, and I wiped the tears streaming down my face from laughing so hard. But my heart stopped when I saw Marvin talking to our Aunt on the other side of the room.
Our Aunt raised her eyebrows and started shaking her head. “No, no. Who told you this?” Her deep voice carried all the way to where we were sitting. Amelia and I froze when we saw our Aunt Jolene giving us the death-glare as she got up from her chair. The smile immediately vanished from my face, and I felt my heart racing as she approached us.
“Okay, who started this?”
All fingers around the circular table pointed at Amelia and I.
“What did you tell him?” She barked at us, her face growing beet red. The whole table went quiet. “Did you tell him that he would get super powers after he graduated from second grade?”
One of our cousins across the table let out a giggle when they heard this. I pressed my lips together, trying to refrain from laughing.
“You can’t tell Marvin that kind of stuff!” She explained. “He’ll actually believe it! What do you expect? He’s only six! Only a kid!”
Amelia and I shrunk down in our chairs.
“Look at how upset you made him!” She patted a very disappointed Marvin on the back. He took his seat in between Amelia and I. “I don’t want to see this happening anymore. From any of you.”
Everyone at the table watched as she made her way back to the grown-up’s table. And Amelia and I sat in silence. So silent, that we heard Aunt Jolene laughing as she retold the entire story to the grownups.
Conversation slowly picked back up, and the room became lively again. At one point, Marvin left the table to use the bathroom.
Some of our cousins started chuckling after he left, “Amelia, that was great!”
“Haha, yeah. Did you see the way he fell for it?” added another. Others around the table were starting to congratulate my cousin on the joke she’d told to Marvin.
I thought Amelia was going to say something like, “Susan was a great part of it, too!” or “Susan really helped keep the joke going!” I thought she would give me a little bit of credit for tricking our cousin. I thought she would at least mention my name.
“It really wasn’t that hard for me to trick him,” She flipped her long wavy hair over her shoulder. “Once I got going, it was easy to get him to believe me,” Amelia continued to boast.
I dramatically cleared my throat to draw attention to myself, but everyone ignored me. My jaw dropped, and I stared in awe as she took all of the credit for the story. We were both in trouble for lying, but now the entire table had their eyes glued to Amelia, giving her full attention.
Didn’t they notice that I played a role in her story, too? None of our cousins made eye contact with me at all, and I felt like nobody even recognized that I’d helped Amelia make such a great joke. I guess I was invisible after all.