Home For The Holiday: A Short Story (Part 2)

Home For The Holiday: A Short Story (Part 2)

Chloe's story continues.
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She heard the door open and shut and hoped it was her mother coming to apologize

“It's cold out… you might need this” No such luck. Behind her, Ryan stood holding out her coat. It was freezing. Something Chloe hadn't thought about when she stormed out of the house but a thought that hit her as soon as the wind did. She had on a thin tee shirt, a pair of jeans and sneakers. But then again when she dressed to come downstairs she hadn't thought she would be storming out into the cold.

“Look just take the coat okay?” She hoped if she didn't respond the first time he spoke, he’d go away. That way she could follow behind and hide in her room until he left, but when he spoke the second time she knew he wasn't going anywhere. She should just take the coat. Or even turn around and go inside. Either way, she had to turn around and look at him.

And she did slowly. In the short amount of time between her leaving and him following, he had managed to put on a hat, gloves, and a coat. He had a concerned but amused expression on his face that annoyed her. He was probably laughing at her. He would no doubt try to make a joke or small talk. Both of which, she did not want. But because the wind seemed to be pushing her towards him, she found herself heading in his direction and taking the coat from him. She put it on and felt relief, it was fleeting and they really should go inside but she was happy for the shallow warmth.

He watched her the whole time, something she wished he hadn't done. She always left like his eyes could see right through her. Like he knew exactly what she was thinking at all times. She on the other hand never had the slightest clue as to what he was thinking. Especially now.

“You can go back in now.” She said. He seemed surprised she had actually spoken to him

“Aren't you coming?” He replied.

“Yes… I'm just giving you a head start.” This time he laughed.

“You haven't changed a bit... Well, I mean not completely…” Chloe rolled her eyes. Was he seriously trying to flirt with her? “I just meant you look older, not old, just mature.”

“Thank you.”

“But it also proves looks can be deceiving,” he said with a smile. A smile she wanted to slap right off.

“What's that supposed to mean?”

“When a mature adult sees someone they weren't expecting to see they might take a second but then they extend their hand and greet the other adult. Instead, you saw me and hightailed out of the house into the freezing cold like a teenager would have. Seeing as I haven't seen you since we were teenagers naturally I thought you would have had a different response.”

“I'm sorry, I don't remember asking you to follow me.”

“You didn't. Your mom was going to but seeing how it's 17 degrees out here, I insisted.”

“Why are you even here?”

“When it's warmer I'm going to be doing some work around your mother's house and I started shopping for things. I just wanted her input.”

“And it had to be today, huh?”

“You haven't been home in I don't know how long and I was supposed to know that you would choose now to come back? I can't read your mind Chloe. You've always been the biggest mystery to me. All I know is I'm not standing out here begging you to come inside. It's cold and I have to be home in an hour.” He turned to walk away, stopped and looked at her. “It's good to see you by the way.


Chloe was angry. Angry that her mother hadn't immediately warned her that she might see Ryan. Angry that her father had brought him around the corner in the first place. Angry that Ryan could have such a casual conversation with her and could find the nerve to say it was “good to see her”. But more than anything she was mad that she was glad to see him too. That she had replayed the conversation in her brain several times over the past two days. Angry that it was Christmas morning and she couldn't even enjoy it because she was thinking about Ryan.

And his stupid face.

She was standing in the kitchen, sipping a cup of coffee while Christmas music played in the background. Amanda was dancing around the kitchen preparing for the dinner that would happen later that evening and her father was setting up on of the many gadgets he had received for Christmas. She hadn't told her parents she was coming until she arrived on their doorstep just three nights prior. She hadn't planned on going home. She was supposed to be in Florida on a beach, drinking Martinis and enjoying warm weather. Carefree and happy. Instead, she was here, trying not to ruin her mother's cheerful mood. The day before Christmas Eve her mother went out to the store and bought her a few presents. Chloe opened each present not sure what to expect. She received a cookbook, a pair of slippers, and an exercise DVD. She smiled, at least her mother tried.

“I wasn't sure what you would want. When we visited you, you had a lot of exercise equipment and no slippers so I thought…”

“Thanks, mom.”

“I got you the cookbook for my future son-in-law and grandchildren’s sake.” Her father said with a proud expression. There was no point in picking a fight with him today. It was Christmas after all. Instead, Chloe thanked them both and handed them the gifts I had bought for them the day before. Her mother received a new apron and Kitchen Aid mixer and her father got a new cell phone and a FitBit for his walks around the neighborhood.

“Wow, these are some fancy gifts Chloe. They must pay you well.”

“Well, I only had you two to shop for.” Chloe mustered a smile and after they exchanged a look they both hugged and thanked her.

Clark was now connecting his FitBit to his phone and walking around the room, shouting out how many steps he had. Amanda would congratulate everyone as she blended and baked. She wore her new apron with pride and gave me a kiss on the cheek anytime she passed.

They were happy and life was simple. Chloe wondered why she missed that train. Just then her phone rang. She looked at it and immediately excused myself up to her room.

“What?” She answered.

“I wanted to know that you got home safely.”

“I'm fine. Goodbye.”

“Wait, please. Chloe, I know you're mad but you have to understand my predicament.”

“What I understand, Walter, is that you are a coward. I understand that you are a liar, and aside from the fact that we work together… For now anyway… I understand that I don't want to see you again.” she hung up then.

Feeling particularly proud of herself, she walked downstairs to rejoin in the Christmas cheer. Her phone rang again, but she didn't answer it this time. Instead, she turned it off and turned up the radio.

Cover Image Credit: cogdog / Flickr

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15 Things Only Lake People Will Understand

There's no other place you'd rather be in the summer.
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The people that spend their summers at the lake are a unique group of people. Whether you grew up going to the lake, have only recently started going, or have only been once or twice, you know it takes a certain kind of person to be a lake person. To the long-time lake people, the lake holds a special place in your heart, no matter how dirty the water may look. Every year when summer rolls back around, you can't wait to fire up the boat and get back out there. Here is a list of things you can probably identify with as a fellow lake-goer.

1. A bad day at the lake is still better than a good day not at the lake.

It's your place of escape, where you can leave everything else behind and just enjoy the beautiful summer day. No matter what kind of week you had, being able to come and relax without having to worry about anything else is the best therapy there is. After all, there's nothing better than a day of hanging out in the hot sun, telling old funny stories and listening to your favorite music.

2. You know the best beaches and coves to go to.

Whether you want to just hang out and float or go walk around on a beach, you know the best spots. These often have to be based on the people you're with, given that some "party coves" can get a little too crazy for little kids on board. I still have vivid memories from when I was six that scared me when I saw the things drunk girls would do for beads.

3. You have no patience for the guy who can’t back his trailer into the water right.

When there's a long line of trucks waiting to dump their boats in the water, there's always that one clueless guy who can't get it right, and takes 5 attempts and holds up the line. No one likes that guy. One time my dad got so fed up with a guy who was taking too long that he actually got out of the car and asked this guy if he could just do it for him. So he got into the guy's car, threw it in reverse, and got it backed in on the first try. True story.

4. Doing the friendly wave to every boat you pass.

Similar to the "jeep wave," almost everyone waves to other boats passing by. It's just what you do, and is seen as a normal thing by everyone.

5. The cooler is always packed, mostly with beer.

Alcohol seems to be a big part of the lake experience, but other drinks are squeezed into the room remaining in the cooler for the kids, not to mention the wide assortment of chips and other foods in the snack bag.

6. Giving the idiot who goes 30 in a "No Wake

Zone" a piece of your mind.

There's nothing worse than floating in the water, all settled in and minding your business, when some idiot barrels through. Now your anchor is loose, and you're left jostled by the waves when it was nice and perfectly still before. This annoyance is typically answered by someone yelling some choice words to them that are probably accompanied by a middle finger in the air.

7. You have no problem with peeing in the water.

It's the lake, and some social expectations are a little different here, if not lowered quite a bit. When you have to go, you just go, and it's no big deal to anyone because they do it too.

8. You know the frustration of getting your anchor stuck.

The number of anchors you go through as a boat owner is likely a number that can be counted on two hands. Every once in a while, it gets stuck on something on the bottom of the lake, and the only way to fix the problem is to cut the rope, and you have to replace it.

9. Watching in awe at the bigger, better boats that pass by.

If you're the typical lake-goer, you likely might have an average sized boat that you're perfectly happy with. However, that doesn't mean you don't stop and stare at the fast boats that loudly speed by, or at the obnoxiously huge yachts that pass.

10. Knowing any swimsuit that you own with white in it is best left for the pool or the ocean.

You've learned this the hard way, coming back from a day in the water and seeing the flowers on your bathing suit that were once white, are now a nice brownish hue.

11. The momentary fear for your life as you get launched from the tube.

If the driver knows how to give you a good ride, or just wants to specifically throw you off, you know you're done when you're speeding up and heading straight for a big wave. Suddenly you're airborne, knowing you're about to completely wipe out, and you eat pure wake. Then you get back on and do it all again.

12. You're able to go to the restaurants by the water wearing minimal clothing.

One of the many nice things about the life at the lake is that everybody cares about everything a little less. Rolling up to the place wearing only your swimsuit, a cover-up and flip flops, you fit right in. After a long day when you're sunburned, a little buzzed, and hungry, you're served without any hesitation.

13. Having unexpected problems with your boat.

Every once in a while you're hit with technical difficulties, no matter what type of watercraft you have. This is one of the most annoying setbacks when you're looking forward to just having a carefree day on the water, but it's bound to happen. This is just one of the joys that come along with being a boat owner.

14. Having a name for your boat unique to you and your life.

One of the many interesting things that make up the lake culture is the fact that many people name their boats. They can range from basic to funny, but they are unique to each and every owner, and often have interesting and clever meanings behind them.

15. There's no better place you'd rather be in the summer.

Summer is your all-time favorite season, mostly because it's spent at the lake. Whether you're floating in the cool water under the sun, or taking a boat ride as the sun sets, you don't have a care in the world at that moment. The people that don't understand have probably never experienced it, but it's what keeps you coming back every year.


Cover Image Credit: Haley Harvey

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Putting Away Christmas

It sometimes feels like the end, but it's not.
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It's probably the worst time of the year for those of us who love Christmastime. At least in the days immediately following December 25th, it's still socially acceptable to listen to your favorite Christmas carols, keep your Christmas lights plugged in, and enjoy your tree and decorations.

But, sometime after New Years, the day inevitably comes when the celebration of the Christmas season must give way to the next one. Whether you throw your tree out promptly on January 1st, wait for the official changing of the Christian liturgical season at Epiphany (January 6th), or just take everything down when you have time, there's a definite sadness that accompanies the un-decorating process.

First, there's the sheer amount of work involved in taking everything down and packing it away for next year. It takes time and effort to locate every tiny ornament hidden in the boughs of your Christmas tree, tenderly wrap each fragile figurine in a Nativity set, and untangle the many strands of lights that illuminated your yard all December. We spend hours putting everything away, not to mention vacuuming tree needles and glitter off of the rug.

Once everything is safely stored in the basement or garage, of course, it's guaranteed that we'll find one last decoration that we completely forgot about, meaning that we have to somehow make space for it in one of the already-overstuffed boxes of ornaments and tinsel and lights. It can all be pretty overwhelming.

Christmas teardown is also a reminder of just how much stuff we accumulate, and just how little of it we really need or care about. Now is probably a good time to get rid of some of it so that we'll have less to store, put up, and take down next year, but often in our mourning for the ending of the Christmas season, we find it difficult to part with almost anything. We make mental pacts with ourselves not to buy any more decorations next year, but then immediately break our resolutions when we see the cute little nutcracker ornaments on a great sale a week after Christmas, or when all the new decor begins to appear in stores the following October.

And of course, there's the essential fact that putting away Christmas decorations means the ending of one of the most beautiful, festive, and happy times of the entire year. The decorations in the stores and around town gradually disappear, the number of family gatherings and parties on our calendars begins to dwindle, school and work resume as vacations end. Everyone and everything just seems a bit less jolly as the bleak wintry weather of January sets in.

But even in the face of a long winter devoid of Christmas cheer, there's still hope. There's hope for exciting holidays ahead, like sweet, romantic Valentine's Day or joyous Easter Sunday. There's hope for changes in weather, like potential snowfall and the eventual coming of spring, when the earth will finally come back to life in flowers and birds and trees and EVERYTHING. And for those who celebrate the coming of Christ at Christmas, there's the promise that Immanuel, the presence of God With Us, doesn't go away even when we've put away our manger scenes and stopped listening to O Holy Night.

Before we know it, Christmas will be just around the corner once again, and we'll get to enjoy our favorite holiday traditions and celebrations sooner than we think. Even though lovers of Christmas will never not struggle when Christmastime comes to an end, we can take comfort in the fact that the cycle of the seasons continues, bringing so many other things to enjoy until Christmas comes again.

Cover Image Credit: Olivia Corso

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