Family Ties

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Family Ties — Essay No. 18

All eyes were focused on me. This was it. The tension had been building up to this point, and I knew there was no way out. I had gotten myself into this predicament, and I was the only one that could get myself out of it. There was nobody to turn to, for they were all waiting for my final move. I had never felt so alone, so isolated.

I thumbed through my cards for the fourth consecutive time, and I could still not decide which one to throw. I glanced up from my cards and caught a glimpse of each player. I immediately felt the intensity of my brother's eyes glaring at me from across the table. He did not provide me with the support and reassurance I was looking for from my partner. I shifted my eyes to the right. My mother, having just discarded a five of clubs and seeing that it was of no use to me, was sipping coffee with a carefree grin of relief. Then I peered directly at the most intimidating canasta player I have ever encountered. Great Grandma Rose was calmly humming a tuneless tune which added to her enigma. As this crafty eighty-eight year old lady squinted at her cards through her bifocals, I knew that time was running out; I had to make my decision. The most obvious choice was to discard the king of spades for which I had no use, but I was afraid that she was waiting for this card. My alternative was to break up my meld and throw the six of clubs, a card which I felt somewhat safe in throwing.

In the midst of my despair, great grandma delivered the final blow. She stopped humming and uttered these dreaded words: "It only hurts for a minute."

She could not have dug a knife any deeper. My brother's eyes were flaring with tension, I had complete control over his fate, and I knew our team unity was riding on the outcome of my decision. I therefore decided to play defensively and throw the six of clubs. No sooner had my discard settled on top of the pile than my great grandmother's hand darted out to snatch up the...
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