On his knees, head cocked against the smoke from the cigarette in the corner of his mouth, he spun the tree slowly.
“How’s this?” he asked knowing it was not so good. It had looked OK in the lot.
“It’s fine”, she said. “Better than fine. Beautiful.”
“Just like this then?”
He tightened the screws in the stand and sat back on the floor. It had been two years since she’d been cancer-free and half that since he’d had a drink. They had decided that drought would end tonight though-an exact year from when it started. One year in the desert was enough.
He’d bought a bottle for the occasion. Later though. First he had to turn two boxes of too many parts into Tony’s spaceship and Tammy’s dollhouse.
“I can see the twins have been good this year”, he nodded at the toys. “What about you?”
“Me? I’ve been good…I’m always good…” she said with a slight-almost shy- smile. “Mostly…”
“Mostly? Do you have something you want to tell me?”
“Nothing specific…just general…things…”
“Well”, he drawled, “I might have to take care of that.”
She reached for his pack and tapped one out. She held it between her fingers but made no move for the lighter.
“It’s been awhile.”
“Like you said, you’ve been mostly good…”
A light blush dusted her cheekbones. “You won’t break me, you know.”
He ground the cigarette out in the ashtray beside him and exhaled into the silence.
“What will we drink to?” he asked.
“Yeah, like what will we toast?”
She looked up at the spruce that was really too big for their living room.
“How about ‘being’.”
“Being?” he asked.
“Yeah.” She said. “Being. Sometimes that’s enough.”
He followed her eyes to the bare tree top.
“Sometimes that’s plenty.”
Wishing you Peace and All Good Things…