080 - Emma
My parents' little semi-detached house in the middle of nowhere hasn't changed since the last time I left, and I'd swear my father is still in the exact same spot he sat, too.
Mum has been cooking, the exact same meal she always cooks, and is wearing her decades old christmas dress she'll only wear once a year.
The house smells amazing, the fire is crackling and I can hear my younger siblings play a board game in the dining room as I help my mother by cleaning some dishes as she stirs her amazing cranberry sauce.
Our christmas dinner is one of my favourites, no matter how run of the mill it is. It means the entire family gets together, something we hardly ever do.
My older brother, Charles, runs a pub in Glasgow and is only home for christmas and other holidays, whereas my younger siblings are all in high school and have become too busy to enjoy normal visits, the only time we're all kind of relaxed is around christmas. It's been a sensitive subject ever since Louis died, though, but that's been years and we're slowly able to talk about it without crying.
"So you got that promotion you were eyeing," my mother says, her thick Scottish accent making it hard to make out every single word seperately, but I know her so well I'll always understand her. "Your father and I were so proud when you sent us that, you're working so hard..."
My mother is slightly upset I don't visit often, especially because it's not even an hour car ride from my appartment, but she doesn't try to show it.
My father, on the other hand, does not seem to care that much. He'd also never say he's proud of me, so those are definitely my mother's words.
Dad has always worked hard for his money, doing underappreciated and underpaid jobs. He's taken care of his family financially, but hasn't really been a rock for me. He took Louis' death the hardest, I'm sure, because ever since I don't think I've seen him smile.
"Jeanine from next door showed me this magazine the other week, because your name was in it. I told Reg, immediately, I said.. Reg, our little girl's made it!" she's still stirring all of her pans, checking on the oven and sipping her wine at the same time. Mum's always been my hero, the strongest woman I've ever known, so to hear her say she's proud of me means more to me than anything else, ever.
Then, she turns to me. "And besides work? What's going on?"
I'm drying off a cutting board as I smile at her, "Nothing much. Still seeing Kenna an awful lot, helping her with wedding stuff. I've started dancing again, which is nice." I'd love to tell my mum about Callum breaking my heart, about going to therapy, about falling in love with Lucien. But I can't, because no matter how many emotions my family endures, we don't really talk about them. So I just... withhold the truth.
Dinner is amazing, as always.
My younger siblings tell us all about how school's going, and what they think they want to do after graduation, no matter how far away that is.
Charles talks about the pub, mum talks about the group of middle aged ladies she goes on walks with and all of their gossip, dad spends about two minutes talking about his work before going silent again.
Then, we do our old game where we fight over the last piece of dessert, which is given to the person with the biggest sob story of all. It has to be recent, in the past week, and we call it 'my life's the hardest'. We usually let mum win, because she's made the entire dinner, although I've won once or twice in my life and Charles won last year, when his fiancé left him for his best mate.
I've drank a lot of wine with Charles and my parents, even smuggled a glass to my younger brother William, and have made my way to my old childhood bedroom. Even this place still looks the same as it did when I left it, posters and all. I can hear the tv playing a christmas movie downstairs, and Charles humming along to Mariah Carey in the shower.
I haven't checked my phone all day, some weird old family tradition. My mum has us all put our phones in a box, and we can't get them until we go to bed. She just wants us all to pay full attention to each other, which doesn't even really happen because my dad will find a way to disappear within a few hours.
Usually, he goes out for a cigar, but it's too cold to do that now, so he just sat there and read his newspaper and pretended not to hear us when we tried to engage him in conversation.
My phone shows a message from Lucien, though. I haven't forgotten about him, obviously, so it's good to know he hasn't forgotten about me either.
I'm glad he likes my present, because it was pretty personal and could have been viewed as lame. Next year, I'll make sure to give him something better, though. If we're still together then.
Are we even together now? Maybe that's too quick, we've only gone on one date, we're hardly really in a relationship. I decide not to worry about that too much, the last time I got hurried into a relationship I ended up heartbroken and homeless.
I don't send him a photo back, my room being too dark, but I do message him. For a bit I think of telling him I wished he was here, but that's way too soon, speaking of hurrying into a relationship. Can't say I want him to meet my family yet.
Don't be too sad, I'll be there to take Elephant's place soon. When's our second date? Em.
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