It snowed heavily and steadily on Christmas Eve, ruining plans across New York City. The snow continued to fall even hours after her mom had phoned to say the food would keep until the next day and not to bother setting out. Kara had been secretly relieved. She was content to sit in her bedroom, watching as the normally bleak and dreary world outside her window disappeared beneath mountains of white.
Across the street, her neighbor obsessively shoveled snow off his stoop, only to have it accumulate again moments later. Kara stared, fascinated by the sight of the old man in the big blue coat struggling against the inevitable.
She smiled and hugged the blanket around her shoulders tightly, trying to get warm. She was grateful for the snow; grateful that she was home, instead of out there; grateful for the simple things. She thought of Mike for the first time in a long time and wondered how he was. Was he happy? Was he well? The questions drifted in and out of her mind without answers and she found she didn’t care.
Lucy knocked once and then opened the door without waiting. She walked in, wearing a Santa hat and Christmas tree earrings that jingled as she walked.
“I made you some hot chocolate.” Lucy held up a mug of steaming liquid and offered it to Kara.
Kara accepted the mug without hesitation. “That sounds heavenly, thanks.”
“Yeah, I added some miniature marshmallows,” Lucy continued. “Oh and rum.”
Kara paused with the mug at her lips. She slowly brought it back down. “Sorry, did you say rum?”
“Yeah I found the recipe online. I thought it’d give it a nice kick.”
Kara frowned briefly but didn’t want to offend Lucy.
“Also, there might be a carrot in there...”
“Yeah, it was an accident. I think I got it out, though. Mostly.” Kara put the mug down on her nightstand. “Thanks...”
“No problem. So, what do you want to watch first tonight? We’ve got the classics: A Christmas Story, A Christmas Carol, the 1951 version, of course, not the other posers, It’s A Wonderful Life, and Miracle on 34th Street. I’ve also made enough popcorn to last at least three movies. So, whenever you’re ready...”
Kara bit her lip. “Actually, can I have a few minutes? I’ve been meaning to email my dad to wish him a Merry Christmas. Shouldn’t take long.”
“See ya in a bit then.” Lucy shut the door on her way out.
Kara stole another glance out the window. The man remained unwavering in his attempts to clear the snow from his front steps, and Kara briefly envied his determination.
She moved to the bed, and sat down, pulling the computer onto her lap. She found a free e-card service and addressed one to her father, wishing him the best. And though she knew that Lucy was waiting for her, she found herself opening an email to Tess.
I hope this Christmas Eve finds you well. I can’t write much because Lucy is waiting for me for our annual Christmas moviethon, and I really have to figure out a way to subtly dispose of the carrot & rum hot chocolate she made me, but I really wanted to wish you a Merry Christmas in case I don’t get a chance to write to you tomorrow.
It’s snowing here. It’s snowing so hard that everything is now white and sparkly and beautiful. I should take a picture now before it all starts to melt and turn to slush. Christmas plans at my folks’ were cancelled due to the weather and I can’t say that I mind all that much. I’m happy here in my cold apartment, spying on crazy neighbors and watching black and white movies with Lucy.
What are you up to today? Making dinner for your friends, I think you mentioned. What are you making?
I really don’t believe you at all about Harry Potter. You must have read the books and then banged your head and forgotten you read them. You must have amnesia. How many fingers am I holding up?
(Go out and get Harry Potter at once – you weirdo!)
Kara paused in her typing because Lucy was at the door again.
“The popcorn’s getting cold,” Lucy whined from the doorway.
“You know you’re just going to end up throwing it at the TV anyway,” Kara said.
Lucy snapped her fingers. “Good point.” She left again, and Kara shook her head.
Anyway, regarding Ms. Fipbic, it seems to me that perhaps you’re just scared to like her because you’re – as you said – a n00b (sorry, that’s a Mike-ism) at love and maybe you’re worried that you’ll – I don’t know – suck in bed (er, so to speak). ;) Or! Maybe you’re intimidated by her Mythical Creatureness.
Or maybe you just don’t want a Unicorn.
Though you know, people are hardly ever as perfect as they seem. It’s possible that she’s a completely ordinary horse when you get close enough. Or maybe she had an accident when she was young and got a tree branch stuck in her forehead and so it LOOKS like she’s a unicorn but really she just has a piece of wood sticking out of her head.
Though perhaps you don’t want to be dating someone with a piece of wood sticking out of their head...
Never mind. I think I lost the metaphor somewhere.
My point was something along the lines of: don’t force yourself to like her if you really don’t like her, but don’t dismiss her on account of a perception. Especially since I think you said you didn’t know her very well. She might be full of perfectly loveable flaws.
Anyway, I really have to go or Lucy is going to dump her bucket of popcorn on my head. Merry Christmas!!
PS: I’d say yes to the potstickers recipe except I’ve decided to give up cooking – I’m really just not good at it and punishing people by making them eat my food is terribly cruel. Thanks, though. :)
“... and then my brother called to say his wife is pregnant again, which is just... stupid. And I said congratulations but what I really meant to say was, ‘Good going, idiot, you can barely support the other three you have’...’”
Lena nodded at Sam’s story while slicing tomatoes. Somewhere in the living room, Jack was yelling at the TV, and Sam stopped talking long enough to yell at him.
“I can’t believe he brought his Xbox here,” Sam said to Lena. “I swear, sometimes, I really think he’s twelve. Are you sure I can’t help you with anything? I feel so useless.”
“You can pour me some more wine,” Lena said, and tossed the tomatoes into a pan. “It’s my fault, anyway, I meant to have dinner ready by the time you guys got here, and I got stuck on the phone for like four hours. Ray really needs to get a life. Who wants to discuss work on Christmas Eve?”
Sam snorted and filled Lena’s glass. “You know his wife left him? He’s always been obsessive but now that he’s single it’s even worse. What did he possibly have to say for four hours though?”
“Oh, it wasn’t just him. It was Cynthia, too. She wanted to talk about some charity auction thing she wants me to do after New Year’s. And then my father called from Paris to say they were having a great time and that it wasn’t too late to join them. And then Ray called again because he’s got a wonderful script he wants me to read. And then my real estate agent called to say she found me a fabulous apartment in New York. And then Ray called one more time because some Japanese people want me for an ad campaign. Finally I just had to shut off my phone. Which reminds me I should really hire a manager.”
“You’ve fired how many now?”
“Four. They were all imbeciles. I need someone I can trust.”
“Hire Jack,” Sam suggested.
Jack chose that moment to shout, “Take that you pre-pubescent asshat!... Oh that’s right! Go cry to your mommy!”
Lena and Sam looked at each other and laughed.
“Who is he talking to?”
Sam shrugged. “Who knows. Some ten-year-old on Xbox Live probably.”
Lena shook her head and returned to the business of cooking, while Sam went on about Jack’s gaming adventures. Her mind drifted to Kara’s last email, snippets of which began to pop into her head as she moved around the kitchen.
“Why are you smiling like that?” Sam said suddenly.
“You weren’t listening to a word I was saying were you?” Sam grinned. “Were you thinking of Diana?”
“Don’t you mean ‘Neo’?”
“Not unless you have her hidden around here somewhere.” Sam leaned against the island. “So?”
“Are you going to tell me?”
“Tell you what?”
The actress shrugged. “It was nothing. Kara just said some funny things in her last email.”
“Ah, Kara.” Sam began to nod. “Wait, is she the reason you called the other day to ask something about stalking?”
“Yes, right before you hung up on me.”
Sam laughed. “Sorry. I was half asleep. So you’re stalking her now? I didn’t peg you for the stalker-lesbian type.”
Lena stopped stirring the food and looked at Sam. “I think New York makes me insane. Now that I’m back here I feel normal. I feel like everything is where it should be. I go there, and suddenly I’m stalking artists and dating directors and eating hotdogs.” She resumed the stirring. “Maybe doing this movie was a bad idea.”
“You’re going to be fine.”
Lena sighed. “I need to tell her the truth.”
Sam shrugged. “And then you’ll still be fine. Even if things suck for a while, you’ll still be fine. Trust me.”
Lena nodded. Then she looked up again and smiled. “She has a collection of toilet paper. And normally I would find that really weird, but with her I don’t. With her, it’s fitting. With her, I think it’s adorable.”
“Like rolls of toilet paper?”
“No, no. Just squares, from random bathrooms.”
“You have really strange taste in women.”
Lena sighed. “But see, that’s the thing. I don’t want to find these things adorable. I don’t want to wonder things like ‘does she like hotdogs’ in the middle of a date with someone else. I don’t want to spend half the night thinking about how cute she looked at the theater, or how beautiful she looked at the gallery, or how insane I am for asking her to paint things for me just because I wanted an excuse to be closer to her, and a justification for why I was following her. I just want to... not feel this way. How do I stop feeling this way?”
“Can’t help you there.”
Lena sighed and picked up her glass of wine. She took a sip and put it back down. “I thought maybe if I could just stop writing to her... but I can’t. And then there’s Diana.”
“What about her?”
“I kind of swung the door open to the possibility of more with her and now I don’t know if I should slam it shut again or see what happens. I’m not even sure how into me she is.”
“Oh, she’s into you,” Sam said with a snort. “You could always just tell her you don’t want anything serious and just sleep with her.”
“You’re starting to sound like Jack.”
“Well, it’s true. She’d be perfect. She’s hot, she’s nice, she’s experienced, and you can trust her not to out you to the world.”
“And you need to get laid,” Jack added, walking into the kitchen. “I was this close to getting you a call girl for Christmas.”
“Okay I was wrong, that’s the most depressing thing you’ve ever said to me.”
Lena sat in bed some hours later, absently flipping through the TV channels before settling on a cooking show. Jack and Sam had decided to spend the night, and though they’d blamed the alcohol, Lena knew that they’d planned it all along so that she wouldn’t be alone on Christmas morning.
She looked forward to sitting in the living room the following morning, opening presents and basking in the fleeting fulfillment of material things. They would like their gifts, Lena knew, but she wondered what her friends really wanted for Christmas. What did they yearn for in their most private hour? Probably nothing she could wrap with a bow.
On the TV, a woman cracked an egg open and told Lena the key to making the perfect omelet. She listened for a moment, letting the soothing voice and flickering images fill her mind.
And then she thought of Kara. She thought of her own personal meltdown back in New York at the concept of Kara thinking her an idiot. She replayed their conversation at the gallery in her mind, followed by the one at the auditions. She wondered at the impression she’d made.
She wondered if Kara thought her as silly as she thought herself. And then she tried to imagine what Kara might do if Lena told her the truth.
She was past worrying about Kara outing her to the press, though the fear of that still lingered somewhere in the back of her mind. Far more upsetting to think about was the very likely possibility that Kara might never speak to her again. Far more terrifying than a parade of headlines questioning her sexuality was the thought of there never being another email from Kara in her inbox.
And that, in itself, was what kept her up at night. A crush she could deal with. She’d had those before; on acquaintances, on fellow actresses, on women at the set. But this fear of losing something that wasn’t hers to begin with was something new; something more. And she could only hope that it would pass quickly by, leaving her unscarred.
She reached for the computer and stared at the email from Kara she’d left open on the screen. She smiled as she read over parts of it and was smiling still when she began her reply.
Merry Christmas! I hope your moviethon went well. It’s been a while since I’ve had one of those.
Over here, it’s a little past two in the morning and I was just sitting here watching a lady on TV teach me how to make omelets when I remembered that it was my turn to reply.
My evening was full of friendly banter and good company and entirely too much wine. My friends decided to spend the night here and I’m grateful for their company. It would’ve been a very lonely Christmas morning otherwise.
I envy you the snow. Not much chance of a white Christmas here in sunny L.A. You should definitely take pictures so I can live vicariously through you. :)
On the issue of Harry Potter I guess I must have banged my head then, if you insist! And as far as I can see, you’re holding up... eleven fingers.
And I’ll make you a deal: I’ll read Harry Potter if you read The Poisonwood Bible. And if I make it to the second book, then you have to read The Color Purple.
Your take on Saucy’s mythical creatureness amused me. Maybe you’re right and she’s a perfectly ordinary horse with a slab of wood in her forehead. And maybe I shouldn’t dismiss her so quickly on what could very well be a misperception. I did, after all, tell her that our last outing was a date, so I should at least follow that up with something less ... cryptic.
But enough about me – what ever happened with that guy your friend tried to set you up with? You haven’t mentioned him in a while.
And random question of the day: What’s your favorite sound? I’ll leave you to ponder that.
Merry Christmas, Kara.
PS: You never told me what was on your wishlist!
The Christmas movie marathon ended sometime after four in the morning and despite the late hour Kara couldn’t sleep. She blamed the inordinate quantities of caffeine and junk food she’d consumed throughout the night. She blamed the cold. She blamed the full moon – though she wasn’t entirely sure that there was one.
She watched the shadows on the ceiling flicker with the passing of cars. She thought briefly of Lena Luthor and the call she was now certain would never come. And she couldn’t decide whether or not she was disappointed. She thought of Lucy and Alex and Maggie and how much she looked forward to having them all in the same room for New Year’s.
And then she thought of Tess, who she still didn’t know much about. What was she doing now, at that moment? Was she having fun? Was she happy? Was she even still awake?
The thought of Tess comforted her; the thought of her emails made Kara smile. And after a moment, Kara picked up the computer from the floor and turned it on.
Her father had emailed to say thanks for the card and to wish Kara a Merry Christmas. It was a short note, an afterthought, really, and Kara didn’t bother to reply. She was far more interested in Tess’ latest email, which Kara had secretly hoped for, but hadn’t really expected.
It’s nearing 6AM here and I’m still wide awake. The moviethon was great fun but I’m now regretting the Gilmore Girls-esque junk food fest that Lucy prepared. Have you ever had Nutella, sliced bananas, m&ms, peanut butter, marshmallows, licorice, whipped cream and gummy bears all sandwiched together between two giant chocolate chip cookies?
Here’s my advice: don’t do it!
I’m so going to hate my life in a few hours. I can’t sleep. My stomach is starting to hurt. And both Lucy and I are due at my parents’ at 11:30. I’d kill for a clone of myself today.
Oh, and by the way, you’re on. I’ll track down the Poisontree Bible or whatever it was called tomorrow. Well, not the tomorrow that is today because I haven’t gone to sleep yet, but rather the tomorrow that actually is tomorrow because today is already today. Got that?
I’m glad you’ve decided to give Saucy a shot. I have a feeling the two of you are going to be really happy together.
You know, it occurs to me that if you actually start dating her and fall madly in love with her, we’ll have to stop calling her Saucy. What was her real name again? Dana?
Anyway, the snow has stopped, much to my disappointment. I hate to admit this, but a part of me was hoping for a blizzard so I could sleep in today, which is horrible because it’s Christmas and I should want to be with my family. But at this moment, the thought of going outside into the cold, slushy, icy world is terribly unappealing. Especially while dragging along a bunch of presents.
Oh, my wish list! Right. I had forgotten you asked about that. Well, I asked for art supplies mostly because they’re expensive and I tend to go through them really quickly.
But in the grand scheme of things... hmm... I want a lot of things, I think. I want my family to support my choices. I want them to stop treating Alex like some kind of vermin. I want Lucy to get a good role in something, in anything, as long as it makes her happy.
I want world peace. :)
I do hope you figure out what you want. Sometimes I think I don’t know myself but then it seems clear. I want to be happy and I want those I love to be happy which seems kind of lame, I know, but isn’t that what we all want, really?
But I guess if we experienced happiness as a constant thing then we’d start to take it for granted and so maybe it’s best to wish for a healthy balance of the two. Though it seems terrible to wish someone unhappiness just because you don’t want them to be greedy with the happiness. So you have to wish them happiness and then think quietly to yourself, ‘But not TOO much.’
I’m sorry, it’s late and I’m rambling nonsensically. I should try to sleep.
I do wish you happiness, Tess. And maybe there’s no such thing as too much. Merry Christmas. :)