Whitney knocked on the door to her parent’s house and waited for someone to answer. It had been a couple years since she had been home for any holiday. Hell, it might have even been a couple years since she was home, period. But that was then. Things were different. Her and her soon-to-be-ex-husband, Mark, we’re constantly traveling for their businesses and neither had been back to their sleepy small town in a while.
But now, two weeks after their divorce was filed, Whitney decided to come home and visit her family. She could really use the company of them, she thought she could, at least.
“Whitney! Baby!” Her mom said, pulling her into a giant bear hug.
“Hi, mama.” She said, hugging her mom back with the same force.
“How was your drive? Come in! Come in! Sara has just gotten here with Lawson and the kids.” Her mom said, motioning for her to step inside.
The smell of cinnamon enveloped her senses like a warm hug and Whitney felt as if she could cry.
“Whitney!” Her dad said and pulled her into another hug. She had forgotten how much her family liked to show affection. Something she took for granted as a child.
“How was your drive?” He asked.
Whitney removed her coat and hanged it on the coat rack. “It was good.” She said.
“Aunt Whitney!” Her sister’s adorable kids Emma and Jack yelled as they ran toward her.
She got down to their level and hugged both of them. “Hi, you guys. How are you? I’ve missed you both so much.”
“We missed you too,” Emma said.
“Yeah, how come you never come around anymore?” Jack asked baring a toothless grin.
“I know. I’m so sorry. I’ve just been so busy.” She didn’t know what else to say, it wasn’t like she wanted to be gone and working so much. That’s what made things work between mark and her. They had both been so career-driven that they tended to focus on their careers 24/7 but maybe that had been their downfall.
“Hey, Whitney,” Lawson said as Sara pushed her way past her husband and hugged her, something she hardly ever did and that’s when Whitney realized what was going on. Everyone, besides the children, was being overly friendly and she knew it was because of her impending divorce.
Sara and Whitney pulled apart and Sara examined her older sister.
“Don’t do that,” Whitney said to Sara but really, she was addressing all of them.
“What?” Her mother asked.
“Don’t coddle me. I’m a grown adult. I’m going to be okay,” she said. Whitney wasn’t sure she believed that statement then, but she knew she would one day and therefore would continue to say it as a daily affirmation.
“We’re just worried,” Sara said.
“Don’t be.” She said. “Shall we eat? I know I’m a little late and everyone must be starving.”
“Actually, we just pulled the turkey out right before you knocked so it’s perfect timing.” Her mom said and then went into the kitchen followed by her dad.
The kids ran around showing their favorite aunt their latest gadgets. Both had gotten new iPad’s that Sara insisted were for educational use only, but Whitney could tell that wasn’t the intention. She knew her manic sister far too well. She was using them as babysitters. Her sister had mental health issues that she refused to get seen for so instead, she sat around all day knitting sweaters no one would wear and yelling at the daytime T.V. That is, until it was time for company, her entire life seemed to transform whenever there was some sort of party or holiday.
Everyone headed into the large dining room and sat around, preparing their plates and getting ready to dig in. Whitney was starving from her travels. She’d hardly ate anything that day. Traveling always made her too queasy.
“This looks delicious. Thank you, mom and dad.” Whitney said.
“You’re welcome. We are just so glad you could join us this year. Sucks that it had to be under these sort of circumstances.” Her mother said.
Whitney froze a forkful of turkey and potatoes almost to her mouth. “What’s that supposed to mean?”
“Well, you haven’t been around much lately.” Her dad said.
Whitney couldn’t believe they were doing this now. But she decided she wasn’t going to argue. Because it was true, she was hardly ever around anymore.
“I’m sorry. I was just so busy. Things aren’t as busy this year is all.” She said.
“Honey, we know you’re here because of – ” Her mom started but then was interrupted by the doorbell.
“That’s strange we aren’t expecting anyone else.” Her dad said and stood up. He went to the door and answered it and Whitney’s heart stopped when she heard the voice.
“I’m sorry, Mr. Erikson. But I’ve got to speak to Whitney. Is she here?” Mark’s voice said.
Her dad mumbled something but she couldn’t make it out. She stood and walked into the foyer and there was Mark, holding a bouquet of Pink Peonies.
“I can’t do it, Whit.” He said. “I can’t go through with this divorce.”