It was Christmas and Charles couldn’t contain his excitement. Sure, he was excited to meet his cousins but he was all the more excited for his cousins to meet Laura. He explained how his family celebrated Christmas to Laura and she was equally excited.
“This is going to be my first real Christmas in fifteen years! I’ll get to decorate the Christmas tree and eat Christmas cookies and oh! I’ll get gifts from Santa! It’s so exciting!” She exclaimed and giggled. Charles smiled on seeing Laura become a little kid, skipping around the apartment.
They decided to spend the night at his parents’ house. His cousins arrived the next day- twelve cousins to be precise, two aunts, two uncles and three brothers and a sister along with her husband and three children.
Wow was Laura’s first reaction.
She was surprisingly intimidated by them, not because they were strangers, she was in fact good at introducing herself to strangers and turning them into friends almost instantly, but these 12 strangers in particular gave her the creeps because she had to do more than introduce herself, she had to impress them, and that was the scariest part.
Laura got along well with his aunts, Aunt Maggie and Aunt Molly.
Charles’ three brothers, Max, Lance and Skip were all in high school, they barely looked at her and spent most of the time playing video games on Charles’ computer.
Uncle Freddie, Uncle Joe and Charles’ brother-in-law Peter kept themselves busy by playing cards with his dad.
His sister Cathy was busy feeding her four months old baby boy Toby while her two other kids, six year old Jolene and eight year old Mike kept running around, knocking things down as they glided throughout the house carelessly. Laura found herself stuck in a madhouse, in a mess she never thought she’d be in. This wasn’t Christmas the way Charles had described it would be.
She looked at Cathy with pity as she struggled to keep her baby from crying and yelled at her other kids to stop acting like hooligans.
And then, Laura shook her head in regret. She couldn’t picture herself in Cathy’s place. Was she really going to become a mother struggling to juggle between meeting her own needs and those of her children? Was this really what she wanted from life?
That’s it. I’m done pretending.
She walked over to Charles who was busy watching the cards game.
She hissed in his ears, so no one would hear her.
He turned around and nodded. They walked outside the house and sat on a bench. Laura cleared her throat and began, “Remember you told me the other day, that we were going to be honest to each other, no matter what?
Charles let the words flow into his ears but he couldn’t register the meaning. Were they breaking up again? They couldn’t! Not this time, when they were already engaged and everything was official and they’d decided on when to get married and where to build their house and which color to paint their walls with. This is only a bad dream, he kept reminding himself…