What About Christmas?

“And I never thought of you as the lazy and stupid type.”

“Dad!” Stacy called from the entryway. “Dad, what the fuck?”

“What?” he asked.
Ted shifted in his seat as he eyed his eldest.

“She’s in no big hurry to get married, or get a better education, or get a secure job, or grow the fuck up and stop fighting with her father.”

Caitlyn rolled her eyes.
“You started with me,” she said.

Tommy glided past her to shake Ted’s hand.

“How are ya, son?” Ted asked.

“Good,” Tommy answered. He sat on the long sofa, close to Ted’s recliner. “What’s goin on here?”

“Wiring the basement,” Ted replied.

“And the kid?”

“Tommy don’t,” Stacy warned.

“Ah,” Ted flipped his hand in Caitlyn’s direction. “David’s got a new girlfriend, and she’s trying to tell me it was his fault she got fired.”

“It was!” Caitlyn stood.
She put her hands at her waist and faced both men.

“He broke up with me after I went to see him, and when I left my files at his apartment he refused to email them to me and I got fired.”

Ted looked past her, toward the television, as he spoke.
“Should’ve been more careful,” he replied.

Caitlyn was stunned.
“I should’ve been more careful?!”

“Should’ve told him what he wanted to hear,” Tommy grinned.

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“You know, Tommy, you’re my brother in law. Not David’s. A little bit of family loyalty would tell you to shut your trap.”

Tommy shrugged. “I’m just trying to help you not get dumped again.”

“Do you hear yourself?”

Caitlyn turned toward Stacy, who still stood by entryway.

“This is your husband? You’re spending the rest of your life with this asshole?”

Stacy winced.
“Come on,” she shook her head.

Caitlyn knew her sister would wait out the storm.

“Whatever,” Tommy yawned. “You didn’t even wanna be with him. So what if he rebounded quicker? You can’t have your cake and eat it too.”

“You’re using that phrase wrong, you dumb jock.”

“You done yet?” Ted whined. “Just get a job already, or move back home.”

“I got one,” Caitlyn reminded him of her lie. “I’m tutoring those kids after school.”

“A real job, huh?”

“It’s only been a month, okay. Jobs don’t just fall from the sky in New York.”

“So move back to Boston,” Ted repeated.


“Well you’d better figure something out because I’m not letting your mother give you any more money.”

“I never asked for the money,” Caitlyn protested.

“I’m tired of her babying you,” Ted ignored the remark.

“That makes two of us.”

Caitlyn was finished with this conversation. She turned toward the foyer to go upstairs.

“Ungrateful little bitch,” Ted muttered as she took her first step.

“Dad!” Stacy gasped.

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Caitlyn spun back around.
“What the fuck did you just say?”

Tommy sat up, eager for the show.

“Watch how you speak to me,” Ted warned, “in my own house.”

“Your own house,” Caitlyn repeated. “The one you built with your two hands,” Caitlyn mocked her father’s pride. “With your skills and the business you started as a young man.”

“Caitlyn,” Stacy cautioned.

“What?” She spread out her arms. “He built it, right? He built everything. Hell, he must’ve wired every bulb in all of Boston, right? What a proud man!

“God forbid a daughter of his have any ambition greater than matrimony or motherhood. And I’m lazy, and stupid, and ungrateful because I don’t wanna get trapped into a life with a prick just like these two.”

Ted got up from his chair and, taking one long stride toward her, slapped Caitlyn across her mouth. It was the first time he’d struck her in eight years.

“Go back to New York,” he spoke quietly into her face, “and fuck up your life. Go chase that ambition.”

“Jesus,” Stacy approached her as their father shuffled out of the room and went upstairs.

Caitlyn’s eyes stung and her lips throbbed.

“Will you drive me to the bus station?” she asked.

“What?” Stacy stroked her little sister’s hair. “No, you don’t mean that.”

“What about Christmas?” Tommy asked. He was still seated, relaxed, on the sofa.

“Shut the fuck up, Tommy,” Caitlyn barked.
She sniffled and wiped her eyes with her shirt sleeve, before looking back to Stacy.

“I’ll call a car if you won’t do it.”

“Shit, Caitlyn.”

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