Amy woke up to the sound of Jingle Bells. She covered her ears with her pillow and cursed her father for having reconfigured the doorbell for the holidays. The next thing she heard was her mother calling her from downstairs.
‘Amy, a package just arrived for you.’
‘OK mom,’ she answered from her bed, ‘I was just getting up.’
‘I’ve made breakfast,’ her mother said when she finally showed up in the kitchen.
‘Thanks, mom, but I usually don’t eat much in the morning. Coffee is all I need.’
Amy ignored the tacit disapproval of her mother and inspected the package that arrived by the mail.
She smiled when she read the note that accompanied it.
‘Is that a computer mouse?’ her mother asked, ‘What a lame Christmas gift!’
‘It’s from Christopher,’ Amy said, ‘It’s an inside joke.’
‘Christopher, as in your ex-boyfriend Christopher who recently got married?’
‘The very same,’ Amy said, ‘He married almost a year ago.’
She chose not to disclose that Christopher’s wife was pregnant. She knew this would trigger a conversation about her mother’s wish to be a grandmother before she turned sixty.
‘He wrote “Love is only one click away”,’ she explained, ‘He’s advising me to join an online dating site.’
‘Will you follow his advice?’ her mother asked.
‘No mom, I intend to bump into the love of my life by accident, have sizzling sex, and live happily ever after.’
‘Silly girl,’ her mother said, ‘You might want to put things on hold until tomorrow, though.’
‘Why is that?’ Amy curiously asked.
‘Do you remember Marc from next door?’
How could she not remember creepy Marc? He had been their neighbor for eighteen years before he moved abroad to live with his father.
‘What about him?’
‘He’s joining his mother for the holidays. I’ve invited him for an early Christmas dinner tonight. It would be great for you two to reconnect.’
‘In that case, I’d better register on that web site immediately,’ Amy said, ‘because I don’t know if I’ll survive the night.’
Adult Marc was even creepier than the boy Marc she remembered from her childhood. Even her mother thought so, but she wouldn’t admit it.
‘You should have married Christopher when you had the chance,’ was all she said when Marc and his mother had left.
‘Christopher is still my best friend,’ Amy argued.
‘Best friends who marry other women …’ her mother started to say, but she didn’t finish her sentence.
‘Come on, Mary,’ her father told his wife, ‘Amy is a grownup woman now. You should stop trying to interfere with her life.’
‘Thanks, dad,’ Amy said, ‘I’ll be fine, mom.’
She kissed her parents goodnight and went upstairs. She wasn’t up to sharing the secret that resulted in her “let’s stay friends” breakup three years ago; only Christopher knew. She visited the dating site he had recommended and started making a profile by selecting her answer to the first question.
“I prefer women.”
This story was written for the December edition of the Furious Fiction contest.
My Christmas story didn't make the long-list.