By: Girl Bard
Disclaimer: Please see part 1. Enjoy!
Additional Note: A special congratulations to the "real-life" Diana and Joe on their new addition! Baby Neal, born November 21st at 9:40 pm, 6lb 13oz. Hes finally here!!! And what a cutie!
Thanksgiving Day, 2000
Humming Christmas carols cheerily I open the oven door to check on the turkey. It seems to be simmering nicely and its getting brown, I guess.
Ive never cooked a turkey, so Im not really sure how this Thanksgiving feast will turn out. Harold is coming over, and Kim and Stacey are stopping by later.
Jaden has to work, but promised that she would be home in time for dinner. I wish she could have had today off, but I guess thats part of being a policewoman, crappy hours.
So it will just be a small gathering. I hope no one will be disappointed with the food. Im a decent cook, but Im not making any promises!
Tonight should be fun though; Lydia and I have had a tradition of going shopping after dinner on Thanksgiving since I was able to drive. We always go to Wal-Mart and look at all the Christmas stuff that is being put out. Then we drive around and sing Christmas carols and talk about what we want for Christmas. When I told Jaden of the tradition with my sister she immediately agreed to go with me this year. Shes wonderful.
I miss my little sister though. Sure, we exchange e-mails from time to time, but its not the same. When I call her my mother hangs up on me. I dont want to put my sister in the middle of our family feud, but I dont know what else I can do. I send things to my uncles place and have him give them to her, but it doesnt make up for not seeing her.
Pushing aside the sad thoughts I busy myself in the kitchen. Theres still a little to be done before Jaden and Harold get here, and I delicately place the marshmallows on top of the sweet potatoes and prepare them for cooking.
When Ive done as much as I can I pull on my boots and wrap a scarf around my neck. I want to take the dogs outside and let them run around in the snow for a while before everyone gets here.
I secure them in the back yard and trudge around to the front of the building to get the mail. We keep forgetting to bring it in daily and now have quite an accumulation. As I head back to the yard I sort through the piles of junk mail I come across a letter addressed to me in neat handwriting.
Hmm. A return address from my hometown, but I dont know anyone named J. Durnt. Shrugging, I open it up and begin to read.
You dont know me, and I certainly dont know you. But I have wanted to write you this letter for a few months now and let you know how youve changed my life.
I want to thank you for the letter of yours that was printed in the local newspaper. I really thought that I was alone in town until I read that. Your words gave me the courage to talk to my own parents about my feelings about my sexual preference. They were not happy, but didnt react with anger and though things are uneasy, we are able to talk about it.
My dad knows your uncle and got me your address. So thats how I found how to write you. Im a junior at the high school and I spoke with the yearbook advisor, Mrs. Switz, about starting a student gay/straight alliance. (By the way, she says hello and to tell you that shes proud of your letter. Oh, and that she misses having you as editor.)We are going to work on getting that started and if you were ever back here it would be great if you could come in and speak at a meeting or something.
Well, I wont take up more of your time. I just wanted to tell you thank you and let you know that you gave me the courage to change my life.
I fold the letter up and place it reverently back in its envelope. Im not really sure how to react. Im shocked and surprised and thrilled all at once.
I do know that regardless of the negative consequences that surrounded the printing of my letter in the paper, if it helped one person it was worth it.
And I guess it was worth it.
As Im taking the cooked turkey out of the oven the phone rings. I set it down hastily and pull off my oven mitts to answer.
"Hey, what are you doing? Working out?" Kims cheerful voice greets me.
I smile in response. "Lifting the turkey. I got a 20 pounder since Harold is coming over."
"Holy hell, thats a lot of turkey. Good thing Stacey and I will be joining you along with my older sister." She replies.
"Huh?" I ask confused. "I thought you were eating with your mom and Dr. Dodes?"
"Well, he got called away on some emergency patient consult or something so my mom decided to go to a friends house. Anyway, my sister flew in as a surprise and Ive been hyping you guys up so much shes dying to meet you." Kim answers.
"Sure, the more the merrier!" I tell her. "You guys are always welcome. Were going to eat in about an hour, and we have more than enough food."
"Great. See you then." She finalizes before hanging up. I smile as I put the phone down. Im really excited to have them for dinner and to meet Kims sister.
Glancing at the clock I anxiously await the arrival of Jaden. I cant wait to show her the letter and to hug her. This past week shes been working like crazy because of everyone else taking time off for the holiday. We havent gotten to spend much time together and its wearing on the both of our nerves.
I start to baste the turkey and the phone rings again. Thinking its probably Kim who has forgotten to tell me something, I answer feigning annoyance.
"Now what? Just come over!"
"Grace?" My sisters voice asks nervously. "Im sorry, I have the wrong number." She continues.
"No! Lyd, its me." I respond quickly. "Sorry, I thought you were a friend."
"Thats how you talk to your friends?" She answers jokingly.
"Ha ha. How are you? I am so glad you called. I was just thinking of you and how much I miss you. Are things okay?"
"Yeah, I just had a minute before mom got home so I wanted to say hi. I miss you too. No after-dinner Christmas shopping this year, right?" She responds; her normally jovial voice tinged with sadness.
"Im sorry." I tell her. "Lydia, I miss you more than you know. I regret so much leaving you and I want you to know its not about you."
"I know." She says, always wise beyond her years. "Moms a bitch. Speak
of the devil, shes about to walk in. I should go."
"Happy Thanksgiving. I love you." I tell her.
"Love you too." She responds, and the next thing I hear is the annoying psychotic screeching of my mothers voice in my ear.
"You little bitch, you are never to call her again and if you do I will make you wish you hadnt." She hisses.
"Go to hell." I tell her, anger seeping from my voice as I slam down the phone.
It immediately rings again. I pick it up, unable to control my fury.
"What part of go to hell dont you understand, you complete asshole? Go fuck yourself and if you ever call HERE again I will have my angry policewoman girlfriend hunt you down like the animal that you are!" I continue to scream obscenities into the phone until I recognize Dianas laughter from the other end.
"Diana?" I ask.
"Hey, whats with the potty mouth? Remind me to never let Kasey call you guys." She responds.
I sigh wearily. "Crap, I thought you were my mother. Im really sorry."
"Hmm, does that mean that youre not going to have Jaden hunt me down like the animal that I am?" She jokes and I laugh at the sheer absurdity of my situation.
"Only if you piss me off. Whats up? Happy Thanksgiving by the way." I tell her.
She groans. "Happy, my ass. Were were supposed to go over to Joes family, and I just get a call from his mother. Shes sick with the flu and canceling Thanksgiving."
"What?" I ask, "That stinks, well theres room over here. Come on over."
"Really?" She brightens. "I was calling to see if you wanted to go out to dinner, but wed love to come over. Do you need anything? I made a few pies."
"Great, we should be set. Harold is coming, as well as Stacey and Kim and her sister. Eva and Sam might be here too." I add as I remember them not giving us an answer to our invitation yet. I glance around the small kitchen of the apartment and the cozy living room. Where is everyone going to sit? I didnt even think of that.
"Hey, Di?" I question, "Do you have any folding chairs or a table?"
"Yeah, a bunch in the basement." She responds.
"You better bring those. And a set of dishes." I add and she laughs.
Im finally home. I turn off the Explorer and practically bolt up the stairs to our apartment. I cant wait to spend Thanksgiving with Grace; its our first "real" holiday together.
From outside in the hall I can hear loud voices and laughing. I furrow my brows, knowing that only Harold is coming over, possibly Kim and Stacey later. Thats a lot of noise for just Harold and Grace.
I open the door, feeling like its another surprise party as I see everyone I practically know crowded around our kitchen drinking wine and eating appetizers.
"Hey sweetheart! Youre finally here!" Grace wraps her arms around me and I return the hug as I kiss the top of her soft hair.
I say hello to everyone, happy to see them but surprised. Even Sam and Eva are here, as well as a lovely woman that Ive never met before.
"Hey Jaden," Kim says as she smiles at me. "This is my sister Val." I shake Vals hand, noticing her resemblance to Kim. They have the same blonde ringlets but Val is tall, almost my height.
"Nice to meet you. Welcome to our family." I tell her smiling. She returns my smile and an idea pops into my head as I glance at Steele. Val seems pretty, and she must have a sense of humor if shes Kims sister. She just might be the one to set Harry up with.
Internally, I roll my eyes at my pathetic thoughts on matchmaking and say hello to him instead. Besides, Grace and Diana have probably already set the wedding date for them so I wont add anything more to the situation.
"Hey buddy, glad you could make it." I tell him and he grins. I finish greeting everyone, and as usual, end up with Kasey in my arms.
"Know what?" She asks and I try to prepare myself for what shes going to say. Shes a smart kid, and you never know with her.
"What?" I respond, playing along with her game.
"Mamas going to have a baby. And she said if its a girl we could name her Pixie-head." Kasey tells me seriously.
I practically drop the kid as I hug Diana. "Congratulations!"
She smiles, a blush gracing her round face. "Guess the cats out of the bag. You were right honey, Kasey really can keep a secret." She says to Joe, who grins and accepts a hearty slap on the back from Steele.
Men. I roll my eyes at them and pick Kasey up and twirl her around. "Youre going to be a big sister, Munchkin!"
Between giggles she demands to be put down so I comply.
"When are you due?" Grace asks after she pecks Diana on the cheek and hugs Joe.
They are both beaming with happiness as Diana answers. "June 14th, we just found out last week that we were positive!"
Everyone is cheering and congratulating Diana and Joe and I smile at our groups of friends, remembering just how I spent last Thanksgiving.
It seems like forever ago, but I will always remember just how lonely I was before I met Grace.
Our eyes meet over the crowd of celebrating people and she smiles at me, her eyes a deep green and her small nose wrinkling adorably. I cross over to her and kiss her, my actions conveying my undying love.
Ill never be alone again and neither will she. I love her with every ounce of my soul and I will never leave her side as we experience the rest of out life together.
And if that isnt the meaning of life, I dont know what is.
"Ohh!" I squeal excitedly as I point to the rows of colorful ornaments. "Lets get some! Can we get a real tree? Do you have decorations already?"
Jaden struggles to focus on me, despite the overwhelming situation. We are in Wal-Mart at 1:00am, surrounded by crowds of "early-bird" shoppers hoping to get the proverbial worm.
And its Jaden who looks like shes gotten the worm. Her lips are pursed and her eyes red and tired. She must be exhausted, but is determined to stay out and have fun rather than go home to get some sleep.
"Sure." She answers, distracted by a large woman wearing fluorescent pink sweat pants who is shoving boxes and boxes of ornaments into her shopping cart that is already overflowing with several blow-up snowmen. Jadens eyes grow large as the woman then proceeds to grab several large Styrofoam candy canes and hurl them onto her shoulder as she proceeds down the aisle.
"What is she doing?" Jaden whispers loudly. "Pink sweat pants? Styrofoam candy canes? Are people insane or am I seeing things?"
Her astonished expression is enough to send me into fits of giggles. I pat her hand comfortingly and lead her away from candy cane sweat pant lady.
"Come on, Spots, lets get out of here. Im tired and cant wait to sleep in tomorrow morning."
She nods and puts her arm around my shoulders. "Me too. I dont have to work tomorrow either. Lets stay in bed all day."
I smile my approval. "Sounds perfect."
We leave Wal-Mart and head into the bustling parking lot, the tiny snowflakes making Jadens hair glisten in the pale moonlight.
Part 8: To be continued ..Return to the Academy