I stand motionless in the center of the room, all eyes stabbing into every part of my being. The darkness tries to creep into the room from its corners, but the lights are too damn bright. Someone coughs, this breaks the tension, laughter pours from all the blurry faces. She pulls my hand; I spin and land onto the soft couch. I am not used to this. I am not used to the Holidays.
We were late, two hours. I shouldn’t complain. But I did, I was excited for some real time with a real family. The house was packed with faces that looked like hers, and some that didn’t. I shake a lot of hands, forget a lot of names. I didn’t mean to, I am just really bad at names. We find a place to sit next to her Grandfather. He asks me if we’ve met before as we shake hands. He starts to talk about his time in France; he still wears his pilot wings on a coat like mine. He is the kind of old that you’re sure he’ll never die, a constant and a forever. He talks, talks, and talks, just wanting someone to hear his story. I cannot blame him; I am in the same boat. While he went on, gin and tonics came and left. I was in a whirl. Her sister’s husband sits next to me, his weight pulls me closer and the couch whimpers. Interrupting her Grandfather he asks me something about what I do. I try to talk but nothing comes out, a minute passes, he gets up and walks away. Her Grandfather starts talking again.
I did my best to be part of the whole family thing, but like a suit that doesn’t fit, I was struggling. The game was charades; I did a great job at being invisible, for the most part. A shake on the shoulder and it was my turn. My card reads: “Soul Train”. How in the hell do you animate a soul? I stand there awkwardly; I put my hand on my device that’s deep in my pocket. I stand there motionless, wanting to disappear. Some laughter, a blurred spin, and I am sitting down again.
We make our way outside. I apologize for embarrassing her. She chuckles and locks her fingers tight between mine. Without a hesitation, I hit my device and we leave the cold night air.
The warm July breeze blows on our faces as the light circles to us. We walk along the shaky coast when we come to a wedding reception on a beach. She’s still gripping my hand as we walk down the sanding steps. With a smartphone, you can do anything like find the place her Grandfather said he married the love of his life. And with a time machine you can take her there. We set our coats on the sand and make our way into the party. With dancing and singing the celebration is in full swing. I am not a very good dancer, but I do make exceptions.
After two go’s I make haste towards the bar. I bump into her Grandfather there, though much younger. The wings still attached to his lapel. “Karl!” I say as I reach out my hand. He shakes it as firmly as before. Before he can get a word in otherwise I am swept back to the dance floor. “Another time!” I call out to him as I am pulled into the dancing chaos. More spinning and more shuffling when the lights go out, the band keeps playing as her Grandfather hollers to someone about the lights. I pull her away from the party and grab a barely opened bottle of wine. We walk along the beach as the light from the lighthouse circles again. The sand is cool as we sit down. We sit sipping away at the bottle. Her heavy head rests on my shoulder. She falls asleep to the sound of the waves and the distance music. I pick her up and quite difficultly hit my device home.