Family Barbeque

“Hey, Owen?”

“Yeah?” Owen asked, spooning pasta salad onto a paper plate.

His cousin didn’t say anything, and Owen looked up. Odin had dyed his hair black now a few weeks before turning fifteen in May, which hadn’t done much to hide the fact that he, like most of the rest of his family, was a bundle of recessive genes. His red roots were showing and it was impossible to hide the familial freckles. His big green eyes were averted from Owen, looking down at some untouched coleslaw. “Odin?”

Odin’s name was Otis, but Owen hadn’t been able to talk as a child and had changed it for him. He jumped when Owen prompted him, as if he wasn’t the one who’d started the conversation. “Oh! Uh, nevermind.”

“Okay?” Owen saw the way he glanced over at his parents. Owen’s uncle Otto and his aunt Priscilla were at one of the picnic tables, interrogating Gavin about his dad’s political agendas.

Owen had given Gavin fair warning. He didn’t feel bad for him.

Santa’s Gift

Christmas morning was loud in Owen’s family; his immediate family and all his cousins and aunts and uncles all gathered in his grandfather’s house in their pajamas to open gifts. Mostly it was for the kids, but even though Owen was basically an adult he was still categorized as one of those.

Which, hey, worked out for him because he got a good haul of presents on top of the frankly embarrassing number of gifts Gavin had given him last night at the dinner with his family.

Owen was a little slower opening his than the others just because at various points in the morning someone would come sit in his lap or get his opinion on a game or something they’d gotten and he’d get engrossed in that before opening the next gift.

So he wasn’t surprised when the last gift under the tree was his, a nice box wrapped in grey wrapping paper with stars on it, which none of the other gifts had been. “Where’d that come from?” Owen’s grandfather asked.

Dad and Uncle Otto and Aunt Liv shook their heads, and so did a few others. “Uh-oh,” Owen muttered.