We walked in and the whole house exploded. Everyone yelled hellos, some people fought their way to their feet to cross the room and embrace us. There were still others that said hi to Bekah and waved at me. I was still not popular in her family. When we walked into Christmas that first year we were back together, we had a hell of a welcome.
We had to make the rounds. Every cousin, every sister, every aunt and uncle had to be greeted. Life was so exciting back then for a lot of reasons.
Kids were next. The years before, the entire grouping of grandkids of Bekah’s generation had gotten married. Me and Bekah were the last. Everyone was out of college now who had gone, and some were getting master’s degrees and even doctorates. Plan and her husband already had their PhDs and were math professors. The next thing was the career. Then right around the next corner, kids.
Kids were a different ball game all together. None of us were prepared for that. We had no idea what that meant yet. The consolidation of the family unit. The cementing of the couple. When you had kids, you stood on your own in ways that you didn’t before kids entered the scene. This was before everyone was divided by their parenting styles. This was before the kids didn’t get along and there were some kids that couldn’t be around others. This was before all of that, when everything was still idyllic. When nothing was going to change no matter what and we were always going to be one big family unit.
When kids came, things changed. Off shoots became a thing and travel became harder. We started to see each other less often and we began to do most of our visiting on the phone. Which turned into email. Which turned into social media.
But this was before all of that. This was when all of the best was before us.
Plan walked up to me and handed me a pure white box. No more than five inches cubed. “Here, here it is. I made it like you wanted me to. I won’t ask who it is for but I think I already know. Are you sure you want to do this?”
I nodded and opened the box carefully as if the opening of the box would crush the item inside.
Plan had made one for each of her sisters and her mother and had handed them out at Thanksgiving. I carefully pulled the object out and looked at it.
It was about five inches tall, maybe four and a half. It was white except for the golden halo. It was a tiny crocheted angel complete with wings and a dress. The dress was flared out like the old style where the dress itself seemed like a downturned tea cup. This was flared out and held open by what I had to guess was starch. It was delicate. It was beautiful. It was more than she deserved.
I looked at Bekah and she nodded. I got in the car and drove to the gas station right up the road. Here was a totally different scene.
I pulled in but not far. I did not get anywhere near the windows or the door but stayed on the far side of the pumps and looked at the cashier.
I had not seen that face in three years. The red hair had not begun to gray yet. By the next time I would see this woman her hair would be solid white. Her face still held the slight air of superiority and disdain. When I saw her talk to her customers I saw the fake look and the fake laugh and the fake everything. It was coming easier to her now than it had before.
When I looked at Rose through the gas station windows, I knew I did not want to talk to her. I did not want to see her at all. I did not want to be in the same space as this woman. I looked at the white box beside me and in at the crocheted angel and I sighed.
I did want her to have it. I just didn’t want to be the one to give it to her. I didn’t want her questions and I did not want to hear her say that she loved me when I knew she was incapable of it.
I went back to K’s house and I talked to Bekah’s aunt that I was closest to. I asked her for a favor and she did it. She got in her car and she drove out to that gas station and she handed that box to my mother. It was the last gift I would ever give her. The last bit of kindness I was capable of. From this point, with me and her, it is all war. The rivalry will start up again and I will rage against her and her me.
But I gave her a gift for Christmas 2004. I had finally found happiness. I wanted a little bit for her, too.
This chapter is from Reality of the Unreal Mind, Vol. 2: Normal Street.