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

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

Chloe's story continues.

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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Where Have the Christmas Lights Gone?

A lament on our cultures insistence on taking down Christmas ornaments before March.

Every year around this time I go through what I like to term as post-Christmas blues. The world is wet, cold, slushy, and everyone seems to think that all Christmas ornaments should have been taken down weeks ago. Being somewhat of a rebel, I tend to passionately keep on playing Christmas songs well into July. I also might be guilty of having Christmas lights strung up in my room year round. I understand that some of you may get sick of the Christmas stuff after a little bit, but I honestly feel that as long as a chance of snow resides in our skies the Christmas ornaments should be liberally sprinkled across our houses. The overwhelming majority of people that I express this opinion to seem to disagree vehemently. Why is that? What is so objectionable about Christmas? It has good color schemes, is the only time of the year when playing non-auto-tuned music on the radio seems to be a widely excepted practice, and it celebrates what is for most of us one of the most exciting moments in human history. Stopping on that note of color schemes, why is it that we seem to like picking atrocious color schemes for most of our holidays? Valentines day, Easter, and Halloween all are offenders in this regard. Pink? Every neon color of the unnatural rainbow? Orange and Purple? Why? But I digress, the real question is,what makes us so eager to tear down the Christmas decorations the moment Christmas is technically over? I cannot personally think of a logical argument for such actions. After all, if we extended the Christmas season we could have eggnog and candy canes for months after Christmas. Twould be interesting to see a winter where we kept the ornaments up till spring. Alas, I have a sinking feeling that I won't be able to convince the rest of the world of the glorious splendor of such an idea. Something to think about though.

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10 Perks Of Staying At School Instead Of Going Home For Break

Sometimes, college is just more fun.

Caution- I'm about to present a viewpoint that many college kids will detest and disagree with.

Alright, here it is... I don't like going on breaks from school.

*Gasps arise from audience, desks are flipped, people storm out of rooms, someone has a heart attack*

Yes, yes, I know it's not a popular opinion to have, especially considering how much we all want to be done with our schooling for life and just move into our careers already. I get it- breaks provide a way for students to relieve stress for awhile and relax from the constant pressures of taking exams and writing papers. Now, please don't get me wrong, I value taking a rest just as much as the next average college Joe does.

HOWEVER, there are some aspects of being at school that I believe every student needs deep down that we just don't receive when we come back home and do nothing for three weeks. **Disclaimer, this viewpoint does not apply to those of you that actually did something productive with your lives over break. Props to you, an inspiration to us all.** Nevertheless, for those of us who spent our winter vacations as couch potatoes, eating our body weight in cookies every day, here are ten, very valid reasons why being at school can be better than being at home.

1. You, guaranteed, won't get bored.

Hmm, spend the whole day lying on the couch watching Hallmark movie specials and slowly slipping into insanity or go out with your friends and do something fun around campus? Tough one...

2. You will actually have friends.

Chances are, if you go out of state to college, your friends all live in different parts of the country... making you alone and sad over every break. No thanks.

3. Your time is your own.

During the holidays, there are so many family responsibilities and things that have been planned for you, there's not a lot of time to spend doing what you'd like to do. At college, you can take a 5-hour nap, go out with your friends, or stay in the dorm and have a personal spa night. No one can stop you!

4. You'll have a somewhat-decent sleep schedule.

Going on break is the worst because you grow acclimated to waking up at certain times for class or work, which is all put on hold when you go home for a month. You get used to sleeping in until 3 PM and staying up watching Netflix until 5 AM. It's a brutal awakening whenever you do go back.

5. Back up, you'll actually have a schedule and a routine in the first place.

Those of us who value routine and keeping ourselves busy go absolutely insane over breaks. At school, we have our whole days planned out and a set routine that keeps us active. At home, we have uh... none of that.

6. You won't have to deal with crazy family drama.

If you have a big family and lots of people visiting for the holidays, you know how stressful everyone gets and the tension that builds over those weeks. Wouldn't it be nice if instead of hiding in your room to get away from Aunt Mildred's questions about why you don't have a job or a boyfriend yet, you didn't have to worry about any of that?

7. You'll have constant activities and events to look forward to.

I mean, yeah, Christmas is cool and New Year's can be fun, but those are the only highlights of winter vacation. In between, you're doing a lot of lying around and staring at the ceiling or your phone screen. Staying at school means you will always have events to look forward to, whether it's games, socials, parties, or even just hangouts with your friends.

8. You won't eat everything in the fridge.

The holidays have a tendency to add a few pounds onto all of us, especially if you indulge in Christmas cookies more than the average person (@me). Frequent trips to the kitchen can be avoided if you just stayed at school and kept up with the gym routine.

9. You only have to do chores for yourself.

When college kids come home, many of us are automatically brought into the weekly chores schedule... meaning folding laundry for 5 people, instead of one. Wouldn't it be great to just have to worry about cleaning up your own messes?

10. You have your own space.

Over the holidays, many of us are under obligation to spend time with the family or room with relatives to ensure everyone fits. There's not a lot of personal space or time. Staying at school means getting to go back to your dorm whenever you want and being able to plop onto bed and do nothing for hours if you so desire. It's absolutely beautiful.

Cover Image Credit: Unsplash.com

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