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Copyright © Erika M Szabo, 2018


This story is part of a short story collection:

Rainbows and Clouds


EBOOK:
https://www.books2read.com/u/3krRvO
PRINT:
https://www.amazon.com/Rainbows-Clouds-Read-Shelter-Animals/dp/
AUDIOBOOK:
https://www.amazon.com/Rainbows-and-Clouds/dp/B07PDJ6RPK/

Published by Golden Box Books Publishing


www.goldenboxbooks.com
Edited by Tricia Drammeh www.triciadrammeh.com/
Book cover art, illustrations, book formatting, and book interior design
by Erika M Szabo
www.authorerikamszabo.com

This is a fictional work. The names, characters, incidents, places, and


locations are solely the concepts and products of the author’s
imagination or are used to create a fictitious story and should not be
construed as real.
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in
any manner whatsoever without written permission, except in the case of
brief quotations, reviews, and articles.

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I wrote this story a long time ago when I met a woman recovering
from surgery after she was admitted to the hospital with broken
ribs and serious internal injuries. When I mentioned to her how
nice it was seeing her large family at her bedside, she told me a
little bit about the life in her “picture-perfect” family. It made me
realize how often we get jealous of people we think we know, even
though we don’t really know much about their lives.

What if you could view people’s lives as if it were a big house


with many small windows? What you see when looking through
only one window doesn’t necessarily give you the right picture of
what’s going on in their lives. But when you peek through all the
windows, you will be surprised how much your first impression of
them had fooled you.
We all look at other people’s lives with some degree of envy,
when we know them only on the surface. We all wish our life
would have turned out differently. Who are we kidding? We all
carry baggage and we all have skeletons in our closets. We all wish
for a perfect family, but none of us have a perfect family. Are you
ready to peek through some windows?

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You see a happy family sitting around a big table having
Thanksgiving dinner. Peter’s parents and his two brothers and
three sisters, and there are Cathy’s parents and her two brothers
with their wives sitting at the opposite side of the huge table. The
table is set beautifully with gold-rimmed fine china and freshly
ironed napkins held by personalized glass rings with the family
member’s names etched into them. The centerpiece is magnificent,
decorated with colorful leaves, miniature red berries, apples, tiny
ears of corn and fall colored flowers. There is not a single wrinkle
on the tablecloth that matches the serving dishes perfectly. Light
piano music is playing in the background, candles flickering soft
light on the mashed potatoes, salad bowl and peas.
Peter is pouring red wine for everyone, making small talk in
turn. He is telling his wife Cathy how perfect the turkey looks that
she has just placed in front of him to carve. He smiles at her
lovingly, and she blushes while sitting down by him. Cathy’s
mother wipes a tear from her cheek and smiles, thinking how
perfect her daughter is. Peter’s mother looks at Cathy feeling
satisfied that her baby found the perfect wife. The kids are looking
like little angels dressed up pretty, sitting around the smaller table.
Now there is a picture-perfect happy family for you. All smiles,
having a good time enjoying each other’s company. You wish your
Thanksgiving dinner with your family would be this perfect, don’t
you? Wait, there is more. Let’s go behind this nauseating
perfectness and see what’s really in there.

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Peek through the kitchen window, you see Cathy taking the
pumpkin pie out of the oven. Peter walks in; he tells her how much
he hates her family. She starts crying. He hits her ribs with his fist,
ordering her to be quiet. He never hits her on her face or any other
visible parts of her body, no way! He projects the picture of the
perfect husband. He doesn’t want anyone to find out that
underneath the handsome surface, he is a cruel monster who enjoys
inflicting pain.
His beautiful hands could caress her arm ever so gently one
second, and then deliver a painful and cruel punch the next. He
apologizes after every blow he inflicts and assures her of his love.
Cathy is confused by this fluctuating ice then cozy warm
treatment. When he’s warm, oh it feels so good. When he becomes
the icy monster, his cruelties make her want to hide and get away.
He began to take control of every single aspect of her life
slowly, right after they got married. At first, he praised her for
doing things exactly the way he liked them. Soon he started hitting
her if she messed up with one tiny detail. After some time, she
began to believe it was her fault when he became angry and hit her,
so she tried harder and harder to please him. She believed she was
a worthless wife, a bad mother and a dumb person. She also
believed that she wouldn’t survive without him, because she didn’t
have the skills and the means to live on her own. She didn’t have
friends anymore. She was allowed to have visits with her family,
but only when her husband closely supervised. Hmm… are you
still jealous? Wait, there is more.

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You peek through the upstairs bathroom window; you’ll see
Cathy’s brother eagerly kissing a woman’s neck. The woman is
Peter’s sister. He can’t ruin her makeup by kissing her lips, but she
doesn’t mind the grappling hands under her skirt and the hungry
mouth on her neck and breasts. He tells her between noisy and wet
kisses how hot she looks and that he can’t wait until he meets her
in the motel next week. He begs her for a “quickie” right there in
the bathroom. She locks the door, panting heavily, and they steam
up the mirrors, quickly banging each other into the sink and the
hamper. Their spouses are in the dining room not suspecting a
thing, but that makes their tryst even more exciting.
Let’s give them privacy and go back to the dining room
window. You can see the kid’s table. They are smiling, telling
stories and exchanging school gossip, but taking a closer look you
can see that two boys are playing a game under the cover of the
tablecloth. Girls about fourteen are sitting side by side. Brittany,
Carl’s daughter, is holding her small laptop under the disguise of
the tablecloth. She is flushed and excited. She had secretly
installed a small button camera in the bathroom before they
gathered in the dining room for the usual family dinner. The little
creep enjoys watching people in their private moments. She saw
Nancy entering the bathroom earlier and wondered why she was
acting so peculiar. Instead of sitting down on the toilet or touching
up her makeup, she took her panties off and waited. Brittany
couldn’t even imagine in her wildest dreams that the person
sneaking into the bathroom shortly after Nancy would be her father
Carl. She had been suspecting her father was having an affair; she'd
overheard him talking on the phone with someone about meeting
at the usual place. She hacked into her father’s computer and she
read their steamy emails, but she still didn’t know who she was.
She’s thinking excitedly that now she could blackmail her
father with the video she’s recording. Brittany catches Ashley,
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Nancy’s daughter, watching the small screen, astounded. She
draws in a noisy breath and she can’t take her eyes off the screen.
Brittany half closes the top of the computer and hisses at Ashley
angrily not to butt into her business.
“Grandma is watching!” Ashley warns her, smiling and
hissing under her breath.
“Your Mom is a slut. This is disgusting!” Brittany whispers.
“Duh! Look who she is slut-ting with! That makes him…
what?” Ashley leaves the question open.
“He is a guy. What else are you expecting? They’re all dogs.”
Brittany sighs.
“So, it’s okay for your father but not for my mother?” Ashley
fumes under her breath.
Brittany shrugs her shoulders. “If your mom wouldn’t take her
panties off, he could hump the hamper. And because she’s willing,
he takes advantage,” she acknowledges stoically.
“Seriously!? I’m not even going to argue with you, but what
are we going to do?” Ashley whispers.
“Nothing! Absolutely nothing for now.” Brittany winks at
Ashley. “If it comes out, everyone would divorce. Just let them do
their thing and we can get a new computer out of it,” Brittany
decides with a bitter and ready-to-compromise old woman’s wise
reasoning.
Ashley thinks it over and makes her decision, smiling sweetly
at Brittany. “Hope you can give me a copy. I have my heart set on
a new iPhone.” Brittany gives her a hidden conspirator’s high five
under the tablecloth. Sweet fourteen-year-old teenagers, aren’t
they?
The dining room is empty now. Everyone has left and the
kitchen is spotlessly cleaned. Cathy took her time scrubbing

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everything, putting away the dishes perfectly aligned, hoping that
by the time she goes up to the bedroom Peter would be asleep. Her
hopes are shattered.
You peek through the bedroom window and you see him
sweating and swearing on top of her. He can’t perform and he’s
accusing her of being unattractive, fat and ugly. He tells her
between grunts, no wonder he doesn’t have desire for her. She’s
afraid to cry; she knows it could provoke his twisted sexual
fantasies that she loathes. She prays quietly and lets him do as he
wishes, hoping the sweaty torture will be over soon.
Peek through another window and you see their nine-year-old
son kicking his sister because she forgot to do his math homework.
He learned that girls needed to be taught to behave the “right way,”
because they’re stupid and they need a strong hand to guide them.
Had you only looked through the first window, you would
have seen the happy big family having a wonderful time at
Thanksgiving. You could have been envious of them, seeing the
picture perfect and happy family you never had, and you always
wished for. You wouldn’t have seen the abused wife and cheating
family members or the little monsters in the making behaving like
little angels because they learned what kind of behavior is expected
of them. No, you would have seen a happy family.
Aren’t you grateful for your noisy, annoying and
dysfunctional family? Be happy with them and hug them every
chance you get. At least they’re honest and don’t put up a show for
each other. You can be yourself; you don’t have to hide behind a
sweet looking smile.
Yes, Aunt Julia will tell you that your pie sucked, and you will
hug her for her honesty. Uncle George will burp and fart at the
dinner table and you will again pull straws with the whole family
to decide who will sit next to him. Your niece might show up ready
to pop out a baby, but you will buy her a baby stroller and love the

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little not-knowing-who-the-father-is baby. And yes, you can spill
your coffee, have toilet paper stuck on your shoes or have
cranberry sauce on your face. They will make fun of you, but you
can still live your life without being afraid of being ridiculed. You
don’t have to fear punishment or cruelty and you can always find
a shoulder to cry on or someone to laugh with. They will tell you
as it is, they will call you a moron sometimes, but they will love
you, nonetheless.

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I became an avid reader at a very early age, thanks to my dad
who introduced me to many great books. The writing bug bit me
much later, on a rainy afternoon, when I couldn’t find any new
book to read. My daughter had enough of my moping around and
snapped at me, “Mom, stop whining! If you haven’t a book to read,
then write one.” Her challenge shocked me, but I started playing
with the idea and I’ve been writing stories, that I like to read, ever
since. I write speculative alternate history fiction, romantic urban
fantasy, historical suspense novels as well as fun, educational, and
bilingual books for children ages 2-14 about acceptance,
friendship, family, and moral values such as accepting people with
disabilities, dealing with bullies, and not judging others before
getting to know them. I also like to encourage children to use their
imagination and daydream about fantasy worlds.

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Read about my fiction & children’s books on my website
https://www.authorerikamszabo.com
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