With Everything I Am(6)

By: Kristen Ashley

Sonia was ready in September. That was how much she loved Christmas. She planned for it all year.

“A few more things to do,” Sonia lied.

“Right,” Jo shouted. “We got your card today. The first one every year.”

Sonia shrugged even though they couldn’t see her however she could see them, clear as day. Her night vision, another gift, was perfect. “I’m organized and don’t have a full-time job, two boys and a husband who disappears when it’s football season!” Sonia replied loudly.

“Hey! I heard that!” Jay shouted from the other side of the van.

“Good!” Jo replied. “Then maybe you’ll notice the neighbors see me taking out the stinking trash from September to January. Yeesh!”

Sonia chuckled to herself as she pulled her mail out of the box, turned to her neighbors and called, “Be safe, Jay, it’s supposed to snow again.”

“Always!” Jay called back, not affronted by Sonia’s comment.

He wouldn’t be. Sonia was a great neighbor. She watched their house when they were away including walking their completely out-of-control dogs, which was why no one but Sonia would watch their house (or dogs). She regularly babysat the boys. She threw fantastic barbeques during the summer. And she had a catered Christmas party that was so spectacular, the entire neighborhood waited with bated breath to receive their invitation and turned out for it. They did this even if they were invalid. She knew this because another of Sonia’s neighbors had broken one leg and the other ankle falling off the ladder while fixing Christmas lights to his house and he’d still rented a wheelchair and wheeled himself to her place for her party.

Sonia waved the Lanigans away and then turned to her house.

The picket fence surrounding her property and the porch that ran two sides of the house and had a white railing were dripping with greenery, clear lights sparkling in their bows, white poinsettias affixed to the points of the drapes. Two little white sleighs filled with white poinsettias and lined with twinkling lights sat at angles pointing in at the top of the stairs. Single candles shown in every window on all sides. More greenery, lights and poinsettias were draped around the faux widow’s walk on the roof. A tall, wide, fabulous real fir tree, dressed to perfection and lit with an abundance of glimmering lights, stood in the window.

She sighed at the sight, as she did every day from the minute it was decorated. Always returning home, turning the lights on then walking back out to get her mail so she could witness it and let the season shine down on her.

With regret, she reentered her house, took off her hat and gloves and carefully placed them tidily in the chest by the door. She hung her scarf on the hooks at the other side of her entryway with her coat.

She walked into her house, shuffling the post (mainly catalogues) in her fingers.

The inside of her house was decorated in a way that Gregor and Yuri approved but she’d done it only so they’d be quiet about it.

It wasn’t comfortable, countrified, farmhouse splendor.

Once you stepped through the wide entryway, the whole of the downstairs was one room, the walls torn down to make it open plan. Left and right were seating areas, fireplaces on each side, their mantels festooned with Christmas cheer. The back left was a dining room with another fireplace, ditto the Christmas festooning. The kitchen was behind the right area. No festooning in the kitchen but she did have Christmas kitchen towels and pot holders and red and green plastic ended pancake turners (which she never used as she didn’t eat pancakes) sticking out of her utensil crock. The red one had a turner the shape of a bell and the green one had a turner the shape of a snowman.

The walls all around were painted in coordinating tranquil light colors of seafoam (left seating area), green (right seating area) and blue (dining room and kitchen). The kitchen was state-of-the-art. The furniture was sleek, modern and, most especially, expensive and elegant. The minimal décor was carefully chosen to augment the furniture and paint.

It looked almost like her store Clear but with subtle hints of color.

Sonia loved Clear.

She detested her décor.

But she detested Gregor and Yuri complaining even more so she’d given in, which was once in enumerable times in her life that she’d done so since Gregor had become her guardian after her mother and father died.

She went to the kitchen and threw the mail on the counter. Without taking off her high-heeled boots, she poached a piece of fish, boiled some brown rice and steamed some vegetables.

She ate it standing up at her counter, thinking it tasted of nothing.

Bland and well, just bland.

Sonia loved food. Too much. In her teens, she’d started to put on weight, Gregor had noticed and commented, often.

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