One Hail of a Holiday
The weight of Kitty’s arm draped around me and steady snores going straight into my ear woke me up the next morning.
My eyes stung as I forced them to open and look out the window. Rain still pelted against the glass and showed no signs of slowing down.
The morning light was cold and uninviting. Just by glancing around the room, I could tell Kitty’s childhood matched the weather. Dreary colors filled the entire space. Except for various framed photos of people I assumed were relatives.
The off-white walls were blank and where you would imagine a hoard of teddy bears tucked away in the corner of the bedroom there were bibles. At least fifteen in different translations.
I didn’t want to hide away any longer and risk being caught and force-fed breakfast. The bedsprings squeaked as I shifted into position. Waking up Kitty would only draw more attention my way.
I scooted out from underneath her embrace and made it the edge of the bed. My head ached as I sat up and
I lowered my feet onto the ground.
I turned to see Kitty wrapping herself in the sheets I just vacated. I waited for her to drift back off before standing and gathering my things.
I debated between changing and winging it in my pajama pants. The pajama pants won.
I crept down the stairs and placed my bags by the door. That’s when the smell of bacon hit me.
My stomach growled as I searched for my keys.
“No, no, no,” I muttered while digging through my pockets and the bottomless pit that was my purse. Then the floor creaked behind me.
Jason waited without a sound as I struggled to say something. Fully dressed with a spatula in hand he stared at me while I panicked.
He pulled my keys out of his pocket and tossed them to me, “I thought you might need those.” He walked away without looking me in the eyes.
I stood by the front door and listened to the sound of breakfast crackling on the stove. But it wasn’t the bacon making it hard to walk out the door.
The car keys dangled off my fingers and my bags were packed. I was all set to walk out into the rain and never give my decision a second thought. It all felt too familiar.
I sighed and tossed my keys into my purse before following the sound of breakfast and a barely audible television.
When I made it to the kitchen Jason was poised over the stove. He didn’t look up once as I poured myself some coffee from the coffeepot on the counter and sat down.
After ten minutes of watching the morning news, the weatherman finally made an appearance.
Jason grabbed the remote off the window ledge over the sink and turned up the volume.
“Expect thunderstorms and freezing temperatures until December twenty-sixth,” The weatherman pointed to our city on the green screen map, “Looks like it will be one hail of Christmas after all.”
Jason and I rolled our eyes at the same time and for a moment we both couldn’t help but grin. Horrible puns brought out the best in everyone.
Kitty decided to make an appearance shortly after the weather cut off. She shuffled past me and grabbed the largest mug off the top shelf before pouring more coffee than any one human should consume in a day.
“Did you see how bad it is out there?” Neither one of us could be sure who she was talking to while we watched her mix the remainder of the milk into her coffee.
“Reminds me of the time Mom dragged us out to the lake for family time,” So she was talking to Jason and by the tone in her voice she didn’t appreciate the forced lakeside lovefest.
Jason chuckled as he scooped the eggs and bacon onto a nearby plate, “Hopefully this time I won’t walk in while you have a hand down your skirt.”
My eyes immediately met Kitty’s, “At the lake?”
Her cheeks were red but she shrugged like it was no big deal. “It was the lake. There was practically a monsoon outside. What else was I suppose to do?”
“Not yourself for starters,” Jason said just as I was taking another sip of my coffee. I laughed and nearly choked on the Colombian blend.
“Oh yes, because you’re both the poster children for conservative values.” Kitty snapped.
We glanced at each other before exchanging another smile.
Kitty’s mom came barreling through the kitchen with a large bucket.
“Need any help?” Jason asked while already slipping off of his stool but she waved him away.
When she finally dropped the bucket in front of us it was clearly filled to the brim with Christmas decorations.
“What’s all that for?” Kitty asked while leaning over me to see what was inside.
“Mom signed up for the Christmas party,” Jason said before shoveling another forkful of eggs into his mouth.
Their mom looked as if she hadn’t slept all night, “Ruthy just dropped out and the storm washed out the Nativity scene. Now I have to find a new Mary in the next ten hours.”
Jason chuckled as she paced across the room.
Apparently, she wasn’t so stressed that she couldn’t see him laughing, “Well, I’m glad you think it’s so funny because you’re officially on baking duty.”
“Mom-” Jason started an excuse but was cut off.
“I don’t want to hear it. You took all those fancy-schmancy lessons and it’s high time you put them to good use.”
Jason sighed and agreed to spend his evening enslaved in the kitchen before dumping his dishes into the sink.
“Did you make breakfast for anyone else?” Their mom asked but it was more of an accusation.
“Your sister and her friend are sitting here and you made them watch you eat.”
I bit my lip, “It’s okay Mrs. Tatum, I’m okay with coffee.”
“Nonsense, everyone likes a hot breakfast.” She stared down Jason until he got back to cooking a warm meal for all of us then excused herself.
“Shouldn’t you be wearing the apron?” Kitty teased and pointed to the frilly little number hanging on a peg by the fridge.
Kitty and I giggled before discussing our plans for Sarah’s upcoming wedding.
Soon after we started eating their mother return with more decorations. She frowned when she saw my plate.
“That’s all you’re going to eat?”
“Mom-” Jason and Kitty were both silenced by her.
I glanced down and then back up where her judgemental expression waited for me.
“I think so.”
Their mother looked between all three of us before stressing a sigh, “Alright dear, if you want to starve yourself it’s none of my business.”
Kitty leaned in, “The therapy has really made her into a whole new person.” This time I choked on my eggs.
“Katherine!” Their mom growled.
I glanced at Jason across the table and wondered how one woman could make me miss my mom so much.
When the conversation trailed off their mother spoke up again, “The weather is awful today. I wouldn’t want Katherine traveling in this rain and I’m sure your mother feels the same.”
I was sure she did too but wasn’t going to let it stop me from running out the door.
“My family is actually already expecting me,” I said, hoping she’d accept my excuse to leave.
“I assume they would prefer you to arrive alive.”
“I hope so.”
“So it’s decided then,” She grabbed our empty plates and put them in the sink. “You’ll stay another night.”
I protested but was shut down.
“I really don’t want to impo-”
“Don’t be crazy.”
I opened my mouth to respond but Kitty shook her head as a warning not to fight back.
I took the loss and started formulating my escape plan for later that night.
“Oh, I need to know your dress size.” Their mom said as I wondered why I didn’t take my chances and leave while I still could.
“Eight.” Sounded about right.
Her eyes trailed up and down my body while a disapproving expression came over her face. She didn’t hang around to debate my size though. Instead, she wandered out of the room while mumbling about all that was left to be done.
I turned to Kitty as soon as the coast was clear, “What was that about?”
Kitty sighed, “You’ll see.”