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The Call:  In Tim’s Perspective

It’s a little past midnight, so I guess that means now it’s Christmas Eve.  Our tree has been all decorated for weeks and we’re sitting in bed together, both of us on our computers. It was sort of a weird experience, decorating it with Odre.  She was all smiles and excitement, but I just felt a little strange.  Of course, I was smiling and excited too, it’s just that it didn’t feel natural to me. No, no, she kept saying as she’d correct me. The lights can’t be pulled in too tightly, or else you won’t see them.  She’d fixed a lot of my rookie mistakes. You can’t hang all of the ornaments right at the end, you have to tuck some in under the branches so that the tree looks more full.

My thinking stops abruptly as I hear my phone ringing.

“Ugh, who would be calling you at this hour?” Odre grumbles.

“I have no idea.” A couple thoughts shoot through my head: someone’s dead.  Or had an accident.  Maybe a friend.  Or a family member?  I answer.

“Tim?”  It’s my Mom.  She sounds shaken up.  Oh god, maybe someone did die.

“Hi Mom!” I answer back, as Odre’s eyes immediately turn to look right at me.  We haven’t talked in months.  About three weeks ago I’d sent them a message: Odre and I have decided to spend Christmas alone together. The day after we are leaving to drive to Florida to spend a week there on vacation with her parents.  They’d replied with a curt OK.

“I wanted to know when you were leaving.  I wanted to send you spring rolls.”  I’m surprised.

“Thursday morning.”

I can hear Dad in the background.  He sounds confused.  “Who are you talking to at this hour?” he asks her.  “Tim,” she answers back.

“OK.  I’ll send them early tomorrow morning by plane and you should get them that afternoon.”

“OK.  We will freeze them to eat when we come back.”

“Ok. Good night.”

“Good night. I love you.”  I take a pause, unsure whether to keep going. “Tell Dad I miss him, OK?” I add, not regretfully.

“—But you never call.” She answers so quickly that it’s almost like she interrupts me.  I stop breathing for a second.

“I know.”  After a few seconds, she doesn’t say anything else, so I hang up.

Odre looks over at me, and I quickly explain what Mom had said so that she gets the full picture.  We agree to take her spring roll offer as a peace offering: maybe she’s willing to forget and move on.  Odre still says she’ll never be able to forget, but I know that all she needs is time.  We agree to send them a Happy New Years card. 

I close the light and we settle in to sleep.  I’m holding her tight, and breathing a little too slowly.  I can’t identify how I feel.  “I can’t wait to see what’s in my stocking,” she mumbles as sleep overtakes her.