Home for Christmas

Are you home for Xmas?

I read the text, and frown.

Where else would I be? I write back.

I pause, my fingers hovering over the keyboard.

Yes, I write again, feeling slightly callous.

He texts back immediately:

Thought you might be in Kansas, seeing your dad’s fam.

You just had lunch with my dad, I text. Didn’t he tell you? My grandparents moved to Florida full-time.

Shit, he writes. I did know that.

I stare at the phone.

Anyway, he pauses – and the text bubbles churn.

I wait, putting my phone face down on my parents kitchen table.

A just texted, I say to mom.

She’s cutting potatoes beside the sink, and snorts. Is he home now?

I don’t know, I say. You’re the one who had lunch with him.

She looks at me, and then back down. He’s home until they go to Telluride. At least that’s what he told dad and me at lunch.

I look at my phone when she says this.

I’m home for a few days, he says, confirming my mom’s statement. Then headed to Telluride to see my sister. Wanted to see if you’d be open to getting together. I have a couple things I’d like to say – if you’re willing.

Does he want to get together? My mom asks in a not particularly subtle way.

Of course.

He’s really doing quite well lately, she says – with a hint of earnestness. Dad and I think it’s the best we’ve ever seen him.

Great, I lament. I won’t lock up the fine jewels then.

She attempts a weak smile. Well, she says. I understand either way if you do or don’t.

But as she walks out of the kitchen, and I hear the pantry door rattle:

I text my high school ex boyfriend back, a boy I once followed with my eyes around a pool as a child, a boy I baked cookies with as teens, a boy I watched smoke heroin at 23, a man I pulled out of a crack house last March, and now a man who pulled heroin out of his back pocket when I dropped him off to detox:

A boy I have known since I was 12 years old.

Okay, I write. I’ll see you.

Thank you, he says.

Tomorrow, I write.

Tomorrow, he confirms.

Goodnight, A.

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