Tone It Down

By D. J. Hodgson

Maybe you could wear something else?” she says, with a slight roll of the eyes.

“You don’t like it?”

“It’s not that I don’t like it, but it’s asking for trouble.”

She’s right. It is asking for trouble, but at the same time, it’s what I believe, and why should I hide that?

“We just want to keep things pleasant. You know? No politics.”

“I suppose. It’s still a good t-shirt though.”

“I know, but today probably isn’t the day for it.”

She does, she laughed out loud when she saw it for the first time.

“When is then?” I huff, hands-on-hips.

“Maybe when we’re not going to see Grandma and Grandad.”

Oh right, yes. That makes sense. That part of me is unspoken with them.  

It’s not that they don’t know, they do.

And it’s not that they have a problem with it. Well, not as far as I know.

They’ve never changed the way they are with me, so that’s a good sign.

But I suppose there is a silent agreement not to go on about it.

“Are you asking me to tone it down?”

“No not at all, that’s not what I mean. But it’s going to provoke them, and you know it.”

“Well it isn’t my fault that they’ve eaten a copy of the Daily Mail,” I protest.

That hate-filled rag has got a lot to answer for. Corrupting the minds of my grandparents is only the latest affront.

“Why don’t you wear the blue one you had on for the party?”

I do like the blue one.

“With the sequins? I thought you wanted me to tone it down?” I grin.

Another roll of the eyes, “you know that’s not what I meant. I just think maybe something a bit less confrontational might be a good idea.”

She is right. It is confrontational, but it shouldn’t be.

I let out an exasperated sigh, “fine, I’ll go and change.”

Stomping up the stairs to my room, I close the door with more force than is entirely necessary. I pull off the t-shirt and lay it on the bed, opening my wardrobe and flicking through the array of colourful tops. Finally, I find the one I’m looking for. The one it has been suggested will be appropriate.  Putting it on, I examine myself in the mirror. A brown face, antlers and a red nose, all made entirely from sequins, stares back at me. Well, this is definitely less confrontational, no-one could deny that, and I do like it.

Still, the words emblazoned across my original choice glare up at me. They’re factual and funny. White and pink lettering, reading “Bum Boys Against Boris.” 

Maybe that is too much for Christmas Dinner? 


D. J. Hodgson (he/him) has been around stories all his life, working in theatre and the third sector. Living in the North West, he’s setting out on a journey to explore his own creativity and find ways to share stories he wants to tell. His fiction writing is featured in the ‘Lifespan Vol 1. Birth’ Anthology by Pure Slush which can be purchased via their website. He has also previously been published in the Guardian, Observer, Big Issue North and Lancashire Magazine.