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Twenty-Five – Holiday Special Part One
Marit “Sprinkles” Thompson
While the rest of the retail world plans set up for the holidays the day after Halloween, Daddy keeps things much more realistic. He always says that he hates going into a store before Thanksgiving and listening to Christmas carols and seeing all of the holiday cheer, so why would he put his customers through similar torment? I for one didn’t mind it. Besides, if anyone did need that holiday cheer, all they had to do was sit in the shop long enough for Tinsel to sing while he worked. He’ll sing “Jingle Bells” all year round, and generally when asked he’s more than willing to give a performance. He’s an attention whore like that sometimes.
The Daily Sludge holiday set up happens on the Sunday that is two weeks before Christmas. It also counts as our family holiday decorating. We stopped celebrating Christmas at the house when we started having more people than our living room could fit. Christmas at our house is more than just the immediate family. It’s also the pseudo family, which is basically all of the employees of Daily’s – both stores. Raven and Princess are originally from out of the state. Raven left home because of his homophobic father. Princess went with him for moral support and to get away from her apparently very psychotic ex-husband. Brilliant’s parents are both dead. His siblings don’t want anything to do with him. His life is complicated.
The rest of our store is comprised of high schoolers who close, and a couple of middle aged women. They all work part time though, and they have their own places to be. The other store? That’s an entirely different cast of characters in and of itself. For example: Princess’s rival Queeny. They’re always amusing to watch together. Then there’s Shade, who’s Raven’s boyfriend. Lucky is a cute bubble of sunshine asian girl who supposedly has a medical degree to be a surgeon.
That’s just to name a few. They’re not really important though to this story, so I’m not going to dive all that much into them today. The point is, Daddy has a tendency to hire people who have rather troubled or non-existant home lives. Sometimes I wonder if he does it to fill a hole in his life because he feels like a shit father to his own kids. He certainly treats most of his employees better than he does his own kids. No, I’m not jealous, not in the least. Hopefully my sarcasm is coming through.
Not that it matters I guess. I accepted a few years ago that my relationship with Daddy would never be as special as the realtionships he has with others. I’ve learned to redirect my disappointment and find other things to fill my emptiness.
I watch as the men (sans Tinsel who has been put on ‘piano’ duty for the entire night by orders of Mom) put up the tree in the back of the store by the couches and fireplace. Between Daddy, Brilliant, Kevin, and Raven, they’re able to get it up and straight with ease. Mom stands nearby with the box of treasured family ornaments. Everyone there has at least one special ornament just for them in the box. It’s tradition to put up your own ornament on the tree. I never really got into the whole ormnament thing. Mostly because Mom likes to take a bunch of pictures while we hang them up and I hate pictures.
As soon as the tree is up, Tinsel briefly stops playing the piano to get up and place his ornaments up. He has three that are specifically for him. One is the “Baby’s First Christmas” ornament with his picture in it, the other a gold piano, and the last is Petey’s “Baby’s First Christmas” ornament. There are several in the box that he’s made over the years and given to my mother, as well as ones that have been gifted to him, but those are his special ornaments. I also have a baby picture ornament, and then one in the shape of paint brushes. Everyone has an ornament actually that has a picture of them in some way shape or form. Soon, the music is resumed as Tinsel dives into playing “Have a Holly Jolly Christmas”. He has a book filled with over 100 holiday songs. It never gets old.
Once I hang up my ornament on the tree, I go open the box for the snow village. You know, those cliche light up ceramic houses? My mom collects those. She has so many of them, and she gets a new edition every year and we hold a special lighting ceremony for it for the customers. They love that kind of dorky stuff. The snow village lines the shelves and trimming of the store. In fact, the whole store is decorated in some kind of a theme. This year it is “Winter Wonderland”. Another cliche, I know, but it wasn’t my year to pick the theme. This was Kevin’s. We all kept our groaning to ourselves. Besides, most of us couldn’t think of anything better. Brilliant always had the best ones, because he is, well, brilliant.
Speaking of Brilliant, he wanders around the store with nails, a hammer, and various decorations.
“Don’t hang the mistletoe up over the drink pick-up counter again Brill,” Tinsel shouts over the music. “I don’t want my mouth raped repeatedly like last year! Worst idea ever!”
“Anything to get you laid my friend!” Brilliant shouts back, and decides to hammer the mistletoe over the door to the backroom.
Tinsel plays louder, and sings to the tune. “I am ignoring you!”
Brill only laughs. Petey starts whining from the playpen that he’s confined in. Like most two-year-olds he doesn’t do well with being confined.
“Daddy please!” He begs Tinsel and makes grabby hands at every person who walks by. It sounds more like ‘Daddy peas’. It’s so cute that I almost go to rescue the kid, but once he gets out there’s no going back. Besides, if I had taken him, then Princess wouldn’t have grabbed him and then her plans for trying to get into my big brother’s pants would have been completely thwarted. Surprisingly, we were actually starting to get along so I didn’t mind the idea too much. He on the other hand seemed to think they’d make a horrible match.
Princess takes Petey and starts to follow him around the room. Which is fine because she can’t do anything else besides hang up a few candy canes. She just sort of gets in the way a lot.
I smile as I watch the room and start placing the snow village appropriately along with some fake snow in the spots where it seemed fitting and practical. We all sing along with the piano as Tinsel plays each song near perfectly. He’s such a talented musician. For that moment in time we all get along, we all love each other, and we are all surrounded with this sense of magic.
While I work, I look over at Brill and smile. He’s busy going in and out of the back room to stock up the counters with all of the holiday treats we sell. We’ve kind of been dating. Okay, not kind of, we are dating, and the only people who know about it are Tinsel and Princess. Tinsel knows because he’s roommates with Brill and he’s caught us cuddling on the couch on more than one occassion – sometimes all night because I lived there too. This happened before we started dating for the record, and it was Tinsel’s idea. Princess on the other hand just kind of figured it out with her powers of perception.
He smiles back at me. It’s definitely a special moment. Thirsty, I head to the back room to grab a bottle of soda from the refrigerator. Brill and I briefly pass under the mistletoe on my way back. It’s tempting to reach up and kiss him right then and there, but I didn’t feel very comfortable with that idea just yet. I like having things to ourselves, and I’m not all that big into PDA either – especially with how uptight my parents were about it thanks to Tinsel’s mistakes.
Instead, I take my good sweet time trying to choose a beverage, and wait to see if he comes back to see me. It takes a minute, but he does, though I’m not sure if it’s to in fact see me. Still, he takes the time to run a hand along my lower back as he passes by me. I look up and into his pretty brown eyes. With a nervous glance, he leans in and kisses my cheek. I grab his hands to let him know that it’s okay. Because it is, or at least it should be.
“I think tonight is the night,” I tell him while giving his hands a squeeze.
“Are you sure?” He asks quietly. He shifts a bit, obviously nervous, but I don’t blame him one bit because I’m just as nervous. This is a pretty big step for both of us.
I kiss him gently. “Yes, I’m sure. They’re going to find out soon anyway right?”
“So we might as well say it to everyone all at once!”
I give him another kiss and this one is on his lips. “What’s wrong?”
“Nothing,” but I know that he’s hiding something from me. For whatever reason, he’s trying to protect me and I think it’s pretty stupid. I’m a big girl. I know what I’m doing.
Still holding his hand, I grab my soda and walk with him out of the back room and wonder just how many people will notice.
“Five golden rings!” Tinsel belts out.
Petey claps and jumps around on a table. “Five, five, five!”
“What is it with you Thompson boys and table dancing?” Princess teases and Tinsel blushes. She grabs Petey and dances around the lobby with him.
“I don’t dance on tables,” My twin brother Kevin says softly while he hangs some fake icicles from the lights.
“I think it’d be good for you,” Tinsel says quickly before continuing into the next verse of the song.
“You shouldn’t try to corrupt your brother Gavin,” Daddy says and then looks at me. His face becomes even more hard than usual. “You’ve certainly done a good enough job with your sisters.”
Tinsel rolls his eyes and my older sister Naya starts to protest and insist that she is not corrupt. I’m pretty sure Daddy was only joking, at least at first. It’s hard to tell with him, and now that he’s looking at me like I had just stabbed him in the back, I’m positive that what little remains of his sense of humor is gone for the rest of the night.
“Always my fault,” Tinsel mumbles and sighs. Mom goes over and sits next to him on the piano bench, slowly rubbing his back.
“Yes?” I shoot at Daddy and raise an eyebrow.
“What is this?” He asks and gestures at Brill and I.
I don’t know what I was expecting from Daddy exactly. Brilliant is five years older than me, the assistant manager of the shop, and Tinsel’s best friend. I’m pretty positive that Daddy loves Brill as if he were one of his own sons – if not more.
“Coca-Cola?” I say playing dumb.
Daddy shook his head at me. He knew I was playing dumb as well. “I knew that something was going on not long after you moved in there. I can’t believe that you would date him, among other things.”
Brill opens his mouth to say something, but I start doing all of the talking.
“Okay, so he’s good enough to run your precious shop for you, which I’m pretty sure you care about more than you care about me for the record, but he’s not good enough to date your daughter?” I’m pretty raging at this point. I’ve never had a good temper though – something that Daddy and I have in common. “Or maybe I’m not good enough for him! Is that what you really mean to say?”
“No, he’s not good enough for you.” Daddy clarifies, and I hate him even more for that simply because of the look of complete heartbreak Brill has after hearing that.
“You’re so full of shit!”
“I knew you’d date wrecklessly one of these days, but I didn’t imagine it would be with him.”
“Date wrecklessly?” I ask. I let go of Brill’s hand and fold my arms in front of my chest. “What the hell does that mean?”
“You know what it means,” Daddy says, but I don’t think he even knows what he’s talking about at this point.
I nod at him, “You think that we’re doing it. That he stole my innocense.” Brilliant looks at me in an effort to silently tell me to shut up before I make things worse, but he doesn’t that it’s already worse. “You’re totally right. We’re just banging all night long. Poor Tin-Tin is always complaining about the noise.”
The piano jolts to a stop in a mess of notes. “Why are you dragging me into this!” Tinsel says. He looks at Daddy, “I swear she’s totally making this up.”
I was. Last I checked I’m still a virgin, and I don’t have any plans to rush out of that. My sarcasm is mostly to make a point to Daddy. That he’s overreacting and that he’s being an asshole.
Daddy doesn’t really know what to say. He looks between me and Brill, and then he looks at Mom and Tinsel at the piano, and then at Kevin (who shrugs oblivious and passive as ever), and then back at me. He glares. “You’re fired.”
“Yeah, fine whatever, I’m not going to lose a lot of sleep over it.” I mumble. It’s not entirely true though because I love my job. I love the shop. I always have.
“Not you,” He snaps back at him. “Him.” He points to Brill. A quiet gasp circulates through the room.
Brill’s jaw tightens and he leaves to the back room to get his things, all of his things, so he can go home. I can feel Princess fuming from the table with Petey. Raven looks like he can’t decide whether to be shocked or giggle. he has a tendency to like drama. Tinsel has his hands clenched at his sides. Everyone else in the room is just awkardly quiet.
“I can’t believe you.” I say to Daddy with angry tears now blurring my vision. “Everything I love, you hate!” I turn when I hear the door close and realize that Brill has just slipped out of the shop without my realizing it, and I immediately run after him.
It’s cold out, but I don’t care. All I can think of is not letting him leave me. I practically tackled him as I run to embrace him with my arms. He stops, stumbling a little, but he stops at least. He’s shaking.
“I’m sorry,” I whisper. “I’m sorry. I didn’t think-.”
He shakes his head. “Did you really mean it Marit?”
I release him and he turns to face me. There are tears in his eyes, and at first I don’t really understand what it is he’s asking me. Then it hits me. “Yes, I mean it. I love you Andy.”
He puts an arm around me and smiles. “Good, because I love you too.” And we stand there in the cold and hold each other.
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