The kids have been up in the attic for 100 days now. It seems so much longer than that, only not really. Not that I’ve ever been locked in an attic with nothing to do but lust after my older brother, so maybe I just don’t get it. It’s getting near winter now, and all the plants Momma brought them have died except for their amaryllis. Because they name everything, they named the plant. And what, pray tell, did they name it? Amaryllis. These kids are nothing if not creative.
Soon it’s Thanksgiving Eve, and Momma comes to visit. She brings decorations for them to make the room festive, and promises of a hot turkey dinner, before leaving. The next day, all four children decide to play house. Hardcore. The twins sit on Chris’s lap and listen while he tells them the story of the first Thanksgiving, while Cathy “bustled about like any hausfrau.” I’m so glad that VC is giving young women a strong female character, someone they can look up to. Cathy really is a great role model for a growing girl. She sets the table using all the fancy shit Momma brought them, except for the pilgrim-shaped candles. Cathy just can’t stand the idea of melting such pretty candles. I don’t know why she’s saving them. She really seems to believe that they’re going to be out of the attic soon. What a dumbfuck.
That afternoon, the kids are all sitting around waiting for their turkey. The twins are getting hungry, and apparently Grandmother didn’t bring them a picnic basket that morning because there’s nothing for them to snack on. The older kids sit around reading and letting the twins starve. It’s 1:00, and if this was a movie, the candles would be lit but not melted down too much. Soon it’s 2:00 and they’re all starving. By now, the candles would be about half melted. Momma comes in after 3:00, when the candles would be barely alive in their pools of wax, bringing cold turkey dinners and excuses. Her evil father threw a wrench in her plans by deciding to eat with everyone else, so she wasn’t able to bring their tray up with his. Instead, she had to sneak off every once in a while to take some food and hide it, in order to bring it up stairs. For the third time in a row, I have to ask – how the hell is she sneaking this stuff up there? How does no one notice? Especially on a day like Thanksgiving when they have guests over. This makes no sense. After all her hard work and sacrifices (like making a fool of herself in front of the guests), the twins won’t eat any of the food. I don’t blame them. I don’t like cold turkey either, and some of this food sounds gross – cranberry jelly with nuts and sour cream. This must be some kind of fucked-up Southern family delicacy. After the meal, Cathy starts cleaning up. This is actually a shock, because we know how he can be, but Chris helps her pick up the dishes and wash them, and he even picks up his dirty socks. Once everything is clean, the twins eat some PBJ sandwiches, and Cathy wonders why they like that “junk.” I don’t know, because it’s not cranberry sauce covered with sour cream?
The next day, Cory gets sick, and Carrie follows two days later. They get worse quickly, and Momma takes a week off from secretarial school. This is like the sneaking things upstairs thing. How does she explain this? “Oh, hey Dad. I don’t need the car this week. I’m going to spend the next 7 days up in the attic. I’m going on a spiritual journey. Sort of a vision quest. I’ll see you next week, or at dinner. We’ll see!” Whatever excuse she uses, Momma spends lots of time taking care of the sick kids, and wants to take them to the hospital. She and Grandma argue over whether it’s a cold or the flu, and Gran says they’ll be better in nine days. She’s only a syllable off; their raging fevers break after nineteen days. Yeah that week at the beginning really helped. By the end of it, the twins are asking why Momma doesn’t visit anymore and if she hates them. Because you’re evil, and yes.
Once the twins are better, Momma wants to stave off future illness by having the kids eat bananas and take vitamins. Or is it breath mints? Diet pills? Diet pills! Cathy gives her a hard time, saying that the twins got sick from being inside too much, and thinks that it’s time Momma get the money to move them into an apartment of their own. Momma tells her that they can’t afford to because Cathy stole the money out of the safe and took it to Atlantic City where it’s now recirculating, and that money was going to buy their new house. Then Cory takes off his top in front of Rex Manning. Oh wait, no. Instead, Chris yells at Cathy for giving Momma a hard time. He’s all “Be nice to her! I want to do her! Besides, do you think she’s happy with her kids locked in the attic?” Uh, yeah, I think she is happy that way.
A few more days have passed, and it’s Christmas Eve. The kids decide to make their grandmother a Christmas present. They spend all day gluing rocks to a piece of cloth. It sounds beautiful. It sounds like if you took the Christmas ornaments I made when I was 7 and covered them with dog poop, it sounds that lovely. When they wake up on Christmas morning, they find a room full of goodies. They all get candy and new robes and lots of toys. This must suck. I mean, it’s awesome getting new things, but since the room is stuffed with new things, it’s going to suck when they have to move everything out for the maids to clean at the end of the month.
Soon Grandmother comes in, all bitchy per usual. They sit there in silence (they’re not supposed to speak to her first, remember?) while she brings them their picnic basket. Cathy picks up the present they made for her (and wrapped!) . It takes like 5 pages, but basically Cathy takes it to her, and Grandmother looks at it, looks at Cathy, looks at the package, and walks out. Cathy flips her lid. She throws the package on the ground and starts stomping on it.
Not long after that, Momma comes in with their biggest presents. First is an old dollhouse that originally belonged to the grandmother, and then to her. It’s very old and very valuable, because it’s full of scale things that are like the real thing. That makes no sense. Okay. All the stuff is real – the Persian rugs, the Bible all of it. She also gives them a TV that was actually from her father. Yeah, she regifted. What a bitch. Her next big present is the news that, because she’s now become the dutiful daughter he always wanted, her father is going to write her back into his will. She’s pleased him so much, in fact, he’s throwing a party for her reintroduction to society that night. Cathy and Chris beg their way in, and she tells them she’ll help them sneak out and spy on the party.
The chapter ends with the twins playing with the dollhouse. When it was their grandmother’s, it was kept in a glass case and she couldn’t play with it. When it was Momma’s, she was whipped for breaking one of the dolls (and trying to see it naked). Cathy wonders what the twins will break, and what their punishment will be. I’m guessing nothing because this dollhouse obviously isn’t checked up on too much if Momma can bring it up to the kids in the attic.