A Quiet New Year
On the eighth day of Christmas, there were no milking maids, but there was a blue whale.
After the ball dropped and the glasses clinked, Chris and I eventually went to bed. I didn’t make him sleep out on the couch, even though he did volunteer. However, he did sleep on the floor. Sleeping in the same room was more like a sleepover with my new best friend.
We stayed up a few hours more talking about anything and everything. There were lots of “no ways” and “me too’s.” It was nice laying there in the dark listening to his voice.
The house was quiet when I woke up. Chris snuffled and made almost no sound. Nice. He’s not a snorer. I watched him sleep for a few minutes. So cute. My bladder insisted it was time to get up, so I heeded its impending need.
I crept towards the kitchen, being quiet in case everyone else was still asleep. There were no other noises, no TV, or music, or coffee maker gurgling that I could hear. I made it to the kitchen without seeing anyone. I really was the first one up. According to the clock, it was just past noon, we all slept in.
Everything for coffee already lived on the counter behind the coffee maker. This certainly made things easier. I started a pot, then tip-toed back to Chris’s room and grabbed my phone. I took a mug of steaming coffee onto the back deck and called my folks. I loved the back deck, it didn’t have a view, but it was outside in lovely weather, the whole point of relocating myself to California.
“Happy New Year!” My mom and dad yelled into the phone.
“Happy New Year,” I replied a little more reserved. “It looks like I’m the first one up here.”
“Did you party too much last night?” Dad yelled. They always yelled on speaker phone. I don’t know if it was because they thought I couldn’t hear them, or they couldn’t hear me.
“No, it was a quiet evening. We hung out and watched TV. But we did stay up pretty late talking.”
“So,” my mom began. “Who is this person again?”
“He’s a friend from work. The one I told you about on Christmas.”
“And you’re meeting his parents already?” The tone of my mother’s voice was mischievous, conniving, and if I wasn’t blushing so hard, really annoying.
“It’s not like that.” I lied to her. Because it was like that. This totally was a meet-the-parents deal, I could feel it in my gut. The problem was, I was still getting used to the fact that Chris liked me as much as he claimed. I know I certainly liked him that much.
I distracted my mother by talking about the weather. I missed the snow and the cold, for about fifteen minutes after I got off the phone with her.
I eased back into the kitchen, trying to stay quiet, to refill my coffee, and to snag another one of those butterscotch bars for breakfast.
Mike jumped up on the deck, hands shoved deep in his pockets. He grunted when I said hi.
“Are you just getting back, or have you already been up and out?” I asked.
“What’s it to you?” he snarled. Lovely kid.
“Curious. I think everyone inside is still asleep, that’s all.” I explained.
“Why are you up?” Mike slumped into a deck chair across from me.
I shrugged. “I woke up. You drink coffee? It’s fresh.” I showed off my mug.
“Are you eating that for breakfast?” Mike sneered at me.
“Yeah, these are delicious.”
“Those aren’t for breakfast.” His tone finished with an unspoken ‘are you stupid?’ “Breakfast is supposed to be protein or fruit. You know healthy food.”
I turned when I heard the door behind me slide open. I grinned at Chris. His arrival fixed my mood and wiped the sarcastic response I had for Mike from my lips. Chris’s hair stuck up funny, and his face looked sleepy hovering above the steaming mug.
“Morning.” He croaked. His voice wasn’t working yet. “Where were those?” He asked nodding at the butterscotch bar in my hand.
“On top of the microwave,” I answered.
He disappeared back into the kitchen, returning with one of the bars in his hand.
“So what are you two talking about?” Chris pulled a chair to sit close to me.
“Mike was telling me how eating a cookie for breakfast is unhealthy.
Chris snorted. “Bullshit.” He shot his brother a glare. “I’ve seen you eat cold pizza for breakfast.”
Mike rolled his eyes and stood. “Whatever.” He brushed past Chris. “You should be out running.”
The glare Mike shot me clearly indicated that was a dig for me.
“Dude take a shower before moms catch a whiff, you stink of weed.”
“Is he always so charming?” Brothers could be a sensitive matter, but this kid was being a grade-A jerk.
“He was cute when he was little. He’s been an ass since puberty kicked his butt. Don’t worry, I won’t go all protective big brother on you if you need to call him out on his shit. He didn’t grow up with Clara riding his ass so he has no manners. Sometimes I think the moms are too easy on him.”
“Clara?” I asked.
“My older sister. She was eighteen when the twerp was born. So he gets the loving older sister, not the evil sibling struggle for dominance that I had to deal with.” Chris’s smile warmed my toes, or maybe that was the coffee. I really liked being with Chris. We were both in our pajamas, both with bed-head, and both smiling at each other without any self-conscious worries. This was good, this is how it’s supposed to be, right?
We were still smiling like fools when Grace joined up on the patio.
“Oh, it is nice out here.” She exclaimed. “What are your plans for the day?”
Chris looked at me. I shrugged. I had no idea what there was to do in Santa Barbara.
“Hang out I guess.” He finally said.
“Nonsense.” Grace corrected. “Take Natalie out, show her Santa Barbara. Go to the mission. That’s always lovely.”
“That does sound nice,” I said.
“You want to go to the mission?” Chris asked.
“Why not? It’ll be neat. I’ll go get ready.” I jumped up to change. Chris grabbed my wrist as I walked past him. I looked down into his eyes. He tugged my wrist. I leaned down and kissed him, right there in front of his mother.
“Take your time.” He smiled at me, and I stepped into the house.
We held hands. I leaned into Chris’s shoulder, it was sturdy and strong. We looked at old buildings. There is definitely a reason it’s called mission style architecture whenever you see a building similar in style. Cause that’s what missions look like.
Actually, the architecture and grounds were lovely. I just was mostly focused on Chris, and being near Chris. We could have been at a mall and I would have paid just as much attention to my surrounding. And I would have been just as happy because I was with Chris.
We were good, and we didn’t make out while at the mission. That just didn’t seem appropriate. But we did make-out once we wandered over to the rose garden. Kissing Chris left me breathless and thinking about doing more than kissing. Necking in public put a damper on how far either of us was willing to go.
“So what do you want to do now?” I asked when we both finally came up for air.
The expression on Chris’s face answered my question, but that was not an option right now. I wasn’t dressed for hiking, so that wasn’t an option either, and we already had lunch.
“What do you feel like doing?” He countered.
I shrugged. “Movies? Zoo? Museum?” I offered a list of suggestion.
“There’s a natural history museum nearby. That’s always fun in a school field trip kind of way.”
I met Chad. Chad is huge. And I do mean huge. They always say that blue whales are big, but until I was standing next to Chad, the skeleton of a blue whale, I really didn’t quite comprehend that. And I found out that a clean and dried skeleton can shrink as much as twenty percent, that means Chad was even bigger when he was out in the ocean swimming around with his little fishie pals.
“Wanna see the planetarium show?” He asked. I nodded.
The place teemed with kids. I think we were the only adults in there without children in tow.
I blinked and tried to reorient my brain after leaning back to watch the presentation. “The soothing voice of the narrator almost knocked me out,” I confessed.
Chris yawned. “I know, I think I may have dozed a bit.” We watched a mom carrying a passed out toddler walk past us. “I see we weren’t the only ones affected.”
Chris led me through the exhibitions. They caught my attention better than the mission had. We spent entirely too long picking out our favorite butterflies, and I pushed Chris through the room of birds. They creeped me out for some reason.
“Now what?” We continued to hold hands as we slowly made our way back to his car.
“Home, dinner, TV. Or we could go see a movie tonight. Or we could go back to that drag show.”
“Or home and pass out?” I yawned. “Stick a fork in me, I am done.”
“How about we pick up a DVD for after dinner. Then it’s no big deal if you fall asleep.”
I’m not sure how, but Chris did accurately predict I would fall asleep after dinner while watching the movie. I remembered it starting, the next thing I can remember is Chris gently waking me up to lead me back to bed. I fell back to sleep as soon as he tucked me in.
©2016 Lulu M Sylvian. The Twelve Dates of Christmas