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There’s a whole life ongoing outside, on the streets, people scurrying for last-minute Christmas shopping, doing groceries or on their way to friends or family. All of them cheerful and in a holiday spirit. Cars are racing by. The Christmas lights beam and guide them on their way. It’s loud, it’s busy, it’s joyful and it’s contrasting everything here inside. Here we are living in a different time zone. Life is on pause.
Absentmindedly I stir the gravy. I honestly don’t know why I’m doing this. The familiar smell coming from the turkey in the oven spreads through the room and brings tears to my eyes. This used to be our family tradition. Turkey in the oven, gravy on the stove, flower spread all over the counter like snow, Christmas carols shouting from the radio. My mom and I, we loved it. My father was a cold, distant army guy, demanding not only an iron discipline from his men, but also from his wife and daughter. Our home always looked pristine and when he was home I was never allowed to play with my toys, it was too messy. Every two, three years we moved to another base across the country and I never had time to build up long lasting friendships or to feel at home anywhere. When I was fourteen he died after a short illness and my mom and me moved to California, to a small, cozy family home in a small, friendly town. There, released from the strong grip of my father, my mom and I bloomed. It took a while for me to realize the difference between a house and a home and eventually I knew how home was supposed to feel like. I look over my shoulder when I hear Bette shutting the book she tried to read and a long sigh follows. ‘I need a drink.’
She didn’t move her stuff here, she didn’t check out of the Ritz. Yet she is spending a lot of time here. We only sleep when we aren’t able to keep our eyes open anymore, it can be either in the chair next to Renee or here on the couch. ‘Take another one this whiskey is for the turkey.’ I snap too loud and too sharp.