Trent had bad ideas.
Alyssa knew this, after all she had witnessed plenty of them (though most likely nothing would ever beat the chariot incident from two years ago). The only thing worse than Trent having ideas is when he then convinces Barry, Dee Dee, Hawkins, and Angie that they are good ideas.
For some reason it had been decided that they were going to do a “family” holiday vacation.
At a cabin.
In the middle of the woods.
And they invited Alyssa’s mother.
“Babe I cannot convey to you how much I don’t want to go on this trip” Alyssa said, refusing to take the suitcase that Emma was trying to hand her. Emma looked unimpressed and continued trying to hand her the suitcase. Alyssa knew she was being immature and that there was probably zero chance of her getting out of the trip, but she could try.
“It won’t be that bad” Emma finally just dropped the suitcase on the bed next to Alyssa and opened it herself.
“They invited my mother” Alyssa reminded, pointedly closing the suitcase. The bright purple exterior quickly proved that to be a bad idea. It was mocking her.
“Barry doesn’t want to take you away from her during the holidays,” Emma explained, she talked to Barry more than Alyssa did “I know you guys aren’t on the best terms right now but-”
“Aren’t on the best terms? We are on great terms, those terms just happen to only be applicable when we are on opposite sides of the country” Alyssa knew it was stupid, but it was true. When they didn’t have to see each other in person it was fine, they talked on the phone once a month, Alyssa didn’t mention Emma, it was fine. It was just when she visited home and though Alyssa knew her mother loved her and accepted her, it still sucked. There wasn’t any outright homophobia, it was just the small things, the comments, that Alyssa was sure her mother didn’t even realize were offensive.
“‘Lys I love you but I’m not letting you drop out of what will probably be our only chance to see everyone for at least a year” Emma took Alyssa’s hand in hers “Dee Dee is opening that show on the west end in three weeks, Mr. Hawkins is going with her, Trent is going on a 6 month sabbatical, though I don’t think he knows what that means when he says it, Barry is going to do that tryout of that broadway show in North Dakota, and Greg and Kevin are planning to move to Canada by next fall”
That was a good point. “I’ll start packing” Alyssa groaned dramatically (If she was going to go she reserved the right to be dramatic) Emma barely noticed, just pulled her to her feet and kissed her quickly.
“It’s only four days, what could go wrong?”
Everything. Everything could go wrong.
“Alyssa I think you’re being a little overdramatic” Shelby said her voice cutting in and out a bit due to Alyssa’s subpar phone reception. “It doesn’t sound that bad”
Alyssa was hiding in the room she was sharing with Emma, the lights off and her phone held to her ear while she talked to Shelby. “I feel like you aren’t taking this seriously enough”
“Alyssa you’re calling me about cookies” Shelby reminded. The other girl did not sound impressed by Alyssa’s story.
“Isn’t it suspicious that she decorated a cookie to look like a pride flag?” Alyssa knew that her mother had to be planning something. Like there was some punchline to the joke that hadn’t happened yet.
“She’s just trying to be supportive” Shelby sounded distracted, if Alyssa had to guess she was doing something in the kitchen judging by the occasional clunking noises and running water.
“But why the change of heart?” Alyssa asked. As much as she wanted her mother to be supportive it was practically impossible.
“She just spent four hours in a car with Barry ” The phone call ended with a small click and Alyssa was left alone with her thoughts.
As soon as Alyssa left the kitchen with her phone Emma pulled Barry into the closest room and shut the door. Alyssa was probably complaining to Shelby which should take at least ten minutes. “I want to propose to Alyssa”
Barry blinked slowly and put down the glass of water he had been holding “What”
“I am going to propose” Emma’s shaking hands fumbled in her pocket until she pulled out the small orange ring box “Soon- tomorrow maybe?”
“You’re all grown up!” Barry pulled Emma into a hug, his smile big enough to make her slightly concerned. “Now I love that you’re telling me, but why?”
Emma pointedly looked at the wall. She did not want to admit that she was telling Barry because he was the closest thing she had to a father figure. That seemed like a way to kill the mood. “I need some advice”
“I’m like a gay mentor!” Barry exclaimed. Emma took a step back, “Okay, I’m thinking big! I brought my pride flag just in case something like this happened. It will make a perfect backdrop, and I can borrow Trent’s speaker system to properly set the mood. You’ll need a suit right? I’m sure I can find one, I mean I found one in middle-of-nowhere indiana this is nothing-”
“Barry” Emma waved her hand in front of his face to get his attention “I was actually thinking something more small”
“That works too” Barry sighed. After The Incident, they had finally figured out how to balance Barry’s over the top ideas with Emma’s dislike of big, dramatic events. “You could take her for a walk down that trail Angie showed us yesterday”
That’s perfect, Emma thought. Alyssa had sat out or the trip due to being unable to find her hat (or as she told Emma afterward, she just wanted to avoid spending more time with her mother) even if outside wasn’t always Alyssa’s thing (she preferred to sit inside on her computer or reading a book for hours) a short walk in the snowy trees sounded like a good way to be alone when she proposed. “I love that”
“Sounds like this is all falling together” Barry held out his hand “Now show me the ring”
Emma handed it over, already preoccupied with her next mission. She just had to talk to Mrs. Greene.
“Emma, are you okay?” Alyssa asked reaching out to put a hand on her girlfriend’s forehead “You look sick”
Emma looked unimpressed by Alyssa’s concern, not even closing the book she had been reading “I’m not going to fake a cold just to leave early”
“Fine” Alyssa leaned against Emma’s side and the other girl’s arm came up to wrap around her waist. She leaned over and kissed Emma “I’m glad you’re here”
Alyssa’s mother walked into the room and smiled at them “Hello girls. How are you?”
“We’re good” Alyssa leaned closer to Emma’s side, she was still waiting for the other shoe to drop, but so far her mom seemed committed to whatever she had planned. Alyssa’s thoughts swirled in her head. Maybe she’s actually okay with it. Maybe she wants to connect with you. Maybe she loves you enough to move past it.
“Mrs. Greene is there any chance I could talk to you in private?” Emma asked. Alyssa looked up in confusion, but Emma seemed serious. The other girl gave Alyssa a look in which the meaning was clear. Trust me.
“Of course, would you like to do so right now?” Mrs. Greene seemed surprised, but not offended as she may have been previously.
“That would be wonderful” Emma stood up from the couch, leaving Alyssa who was already mourning the loss of warmth. “I’ll be back soon”
Alyssa waved halfheartedly and pulled the blanket off of the couch, wrapping it around her shoulders and over her head. Alyssa had quickly discovered that the cabin was always cold, unfortunately she hadn’t brought any clothes that fell between long sleeve shirt and winter coat.
“Alyssa I’m making hot chocolate do you want some?” Angie asked. Alyssa wasn’t exactly sure where Angie came from but that was the norm with her.
“Yes please” Alyssa pulled herself up to sit on the counter, kicking out her feet the way her mother always hated when she was a kid.
“Candy cane or marshmallow?” Angie help up the box of candy canes and the bag of marshmallows. Alyssa reached over and took the box of candy canes.
“Emma will want a marshmallow” She said on reflex, knowing her girlfriend would never turn down hot chocolate.
“I’m sure she will” Angie laughed dropping the bag next to Alyssa so she could cut it open “How has your new job been going?”
Alyssa launched into talking about her job without even realizing that Angie was distracting her from worrying about Emma talking to her mother.
“I want to marry your daughter” Emma said as soon as the door closed. It was better to just get to the point right away. “I am not asking your permission, because Alyssa is her own person and is an adult who gets to make her own decisions, but I still wanted to talk to you. I know that you are probably still mad-”
“-but I. What?” Emma stopped rambling and stared at Mrs. Greene who looked as calm as ever.
“In the past couple of years I have had plenty of time to think about my views and how they affect Alyssa” Mrs. Greene started. Emma took the hint and sat down, this seemed like it was going to be a long conversation. “She only calls me once a month and I don’t blame her. I want nothing more than to be supportive and I’ve learned that I can’t do that while objecting to her choice of partner. I know that I am uneducated in those matters and I am trying to fix that. I talked to Barry on the way here and I see how while meaning well some of my comments have been inappropriate”
“Oh,” Emma ran her finger over the ring box that was sitting in her pocket “Thank you”
“I’m sure Alyssa would love to marry you, and though it doesn’t matter if I approve, I do” Mrs. Greene smiled and held out a hand to shake, but Emma couldn’t help herself from hugging the other woman.
“Emma why are we outside?” Alyssa asked, she pulled her hat farther down her head and stuffed her hands in her pocket.
“It’s romantic” Emma put her arm around Alyssa’s shoulders “Besides we haven’t had any time to be alone”
“Fine,” Alyssa leaned closer and let her head rest against Emma’s shoulder. The cabin they were at was firmly situated in the middle of a small forest, so the surrounding area was all trees and snow. They walked underneath a pine tree and a bit of snow rained down on them when the top of Emma’s hat brushed a branch “It is pretty”
“I want to show you the creek” Emma pointed up ahead and Alyssa could see that light was glinting off of ice.
“Wow,” Alyssa stepped away from Emma and hesitantly put her foot on the ice. The creek had frozen clear and someone had shoveled it off. The small rocks on the bottom of the creek bed shined and Alyssa wished she had a way to grab one. “This is so cool” She turned around to ask Emma how she found out about the creek but froze-
Emma was down on one knee. There was a ring in her hands
“Alyssa Greene,” Emma looked Alyssa in the eye, tears already forming in her eyes “I love you. I love your smile, I love the look you make when you get an idea, I love the way you are always down with whatever stupid ass scheme Greg comes up with. Will you marry me?” Alyssa opened her mouth before closing it, if she tried to speak it would just turn into tears. Emma coughed slightly “Please answer quickly because I did not think through this whole kneeling in the snow thing.”
Alyssa finally moved running forward and pulling Emma to her feet. When they kissed Alyssa couldn’t even tell where the tears were coming from. When she pulled away to see Emma’s hopeful expression the words finally came “Yes”