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Just Another Day

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Last Christmas wasn’t a particularly spectacular Christmas for Ema. Lights wouldn’t start, decorations fell down at random, sweets were overcooked, and the tree was a whole decimeter too tall. It wasn’t all bad though, she and Lana still exchanged gifts, and not a month later the two sisters could laugh about it.

This Christmas, Ema sits alone at a kitchen table, in an apartment that looked like any other day of the year, save for a small potted tree and a single giftwrapped box.

She knew Lana would be at work on Christmas. She didn’t even have to ask her about it to know. She did anyway, and was met with the same cold silence that’s pervaded their home for the past several months.

So Ema tries to spend this day of holiday cheer as she would any other day: cleaning, studying, looking up the latest in forensics research, and/or keeping up with the Samurai Universe. The last two usually took up most of her time.

Right now, though, she’s taking a break, lost in her thoughts while clutching onto the giftwrapped box containing the new muffler she had hoped to give to Lana.

The earliest Christmas Ema could remember was about a decade ago, when she enlisted Lana’s services in solving the “Claus Cover-up Case.” Following the clues, the two of them conclusively proved who was really behind the mysteriously disappearing gifts. Though in hindsight, Lana probably had already figured out their parents hid the gifts in the basement closet, but it was still a fun experience.

Aside from that, it was one of the few vivid memories Ema had of her parents. Ever since the accident, Lana has been the one she thinks of as a parent.

But for the past few months, she’s not sure who to turn to anymore.

Why had Lana changed so suddenly? Was she just being overworked at her new job? Even if she was, she would have at least tried to explain that.

Was Lana just tired of acting as her parent? Did she just hate Ema in particular?

Whatever negative spiral this train of thought was heading to was interrupted by the sound of a doorbell.

Ema certainly wasn’t expecting any visitors. It wouldn’t be too strange for one of the neighbors to visit, but as far as she knew, the visitor could be anyone on the spectrum from her sister to the next serial killer in the making.

No, that’s over and done with. And what are the odds of it happening twice in one lifetime? But just to be safe…

Cautiously, Ema approached the front door, making sure to keep her footsteps as silent as possible. Somewhat difficult to do on the old wooden floor of the apartment, but she makes it without any sudden movements. She then slowly rises to meet the door’s peephole, offering her a look at her would-be assailant...

...a cardboard box.

Well of course it was the mail. Whoever placed it there most likely left while she was practicing her stealth.

Bringing it inside, Ema prepared to inspect every single nook and cranny of the mysterious package… or just look at the attached card bearing Lana’s signature. That also works.

“Two sizes. Pick one and I’ll return the other.”

A smile makes its way to Ema’s face as she recognizes the familiar fabric used in her lab coat.

Lana doesn’t arrive home before Ema drifts off to sleep. Ema expected that. But for now, she’s okay with that.

There was always next Christmas.