Keep My Secrets? (a short story at Christmas)

candles - Christmas tree - keep my secrets

I froze when Mom knocked. “Feel like driving to the airport?” she asked through my bedroom door.

“Why would I want to?” It seemed like a reasonable question.

She turned the knob but only cracked the door. “Because no matter how old you are, Mike, or how far away you go to school, I’m still your mother. May I open the door?”

I was home for the holidays, currently wrapping Dad’s Christmas gifts for Mom – which I was bad at, but he was worse. The real secret, if she could have seen it, was in my head. I was thinking about expanding the little business my parents didn’t know I ran at school, if I could do it without my grades slipping or someone ratting me out to the university. Demand exceeded my supply, even at the high end.

I buried the last unwrapped gift. “It’s safe.”

The door swung open. “Dad’s at work, Mallory’s helping me, I’m up to my armpits in cookie dough, and Jill’s flight lands in 30 minutes. Meanwhile, Kathy’s by the side of the road, waiting for a tow truck.” Her voice turned tired. “That’s why you want to, smart aleck. But mostly the mother thing.”

I smiled. “Okay already. You had me at tow truck.”

Her eyebrows arched. “Not at Jill?”

I shrugged. Jill was Kathy’s daughter, Kathy was Mom’s best friend, we were neighbors, and Jill and I had been friends since we were toddlers. We had one of those comfortable friendships you could pick up where you left off, after a month or a year. The thought of seeing her for the first time since last Christmas made me a little nervous, and our first minute might be awkward, but then it would be like old times.

“Thanks,” Mom said, and closed the door.

I was downstairs in ten minutes. It would have been three, but … Jill. A guy has to have some pride.

I stole a sugar cookie. “Can I take the 4Runner?”

“You may. Keys are in the cupboard. Stop for lunch, if she’s hungry. Use the card.”

“Matchmaking again, Mom?”

“Feeding my neighbor’s offspring. And mine. You turning down free food now?”

“Just asking. Anything for you and Mal?”

“No, thanks.” Her smile was mischievous and smug. “You clean up nice.”


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“This is like reliving our first date,” Jill said from across our tiny table at a trendy, socially-aware sandwich shop I thought she’d like. “Only the food’s better. And you’re not wearing that silly velour shirt you thought all us girls would want to touch.”

I could laugh at the distant past. Her relaxed, girl-next-door smile helped. She looked older, but her green eyes hadn’t changed, and her hair was still what she called “honey blonde.”

“Hey, it was my first date,” I said. “What did I know? You thought you weren’t pretty enough, so you masked that tiny birthmark on your cheek. Never saw you do that before.”

“I was masking the not-so-tiny prelude to a zit,” she said, “and I thought, why not try for normal? Besides, it was my first date too. What did I know?” She smiled distantly. “I did want to touch your shirt. For it, not you.”

“And I’ve always thought you were pretty, with or without the birthmark. Like now.”

She looked concerned. “Are you coming on to me?”

“No, much as our mothers would like that. Did you want me to?”

“No, thanks.”

I grinned. “So it really is like our first date.”

She smiled too. “Our only date. I’m singing in Church on Sunday. You’ll be there, right?”

“Usually not, but I can’t stay home on Christmas. Don’t want that topic over Christmas dinner. But now I can look forward to it.”

“What happened? You were the most committed church-going boy I knew.”

“Topic for another day,” I said.

“You mean that, or you just don’t want to talk about it?”

“Does it matter?”

“It does to me,” she said. “And it’s not just you. I’m stuck too. At least you’re at a state school. I somehow picked a church school, where chronically missing church is not an option.”

“You went for the music scholarship,” I said. “Seems like you want to talk about things.”

“I kind of do, but not today. Short night.” She sighed. “Long week.” She cocked her head. “Do you want to talk about things?”

“Just you and me? Yeah, I’d like that.”

She swallowed the last bite of her sandwich and wiped her fingers. “Here’s an idea. I have Christmas shopping to finish tomorrow. And start, technically.”

“Me too.”

“Let’s go shopping together,” she said. “Lunch will be on me. Our parents will think it’s something else, but we’ll just be two old, platonic friends, platonically shopping and lunching together. Pick you up at 10:00?”


At breakfast the next morning, Dad, Mom, and my sister Mallory all got the family twinkle, when I said Jill and I were going shopping for a few hours. I ignored them. Ten minutes later, Jill sent a text.

“Mike, not good. Sore throat, headache. Maybe sick, or too little sleep for too many consecutive nights. If I want to sing tomorrow, I have to rest today. Also avoid cold air and not talk. So sorry!”

“I’m sorry too,” I replied. “Is your shopping something I can do, while I’m out?”

“Are you sure?”

“Small price to hear you sing tomorrow.”

“Some of it’s pretty feminine. But I’m singing twice, so it might be worth it. You’re sweet!”

“I’m your elf. List, please.”

“Thanks! Let’s still get together before we leave, okay? Been thinking how much I miss that.”

Her shopping went smoothly enough. The most feminine adventure was lotions for her mom at Victoria’s Secret, but I handled that okay. Got some extra too.


At 8:00 a.m. on Christmas I texted her. “Merry Christmas! Please say you’re in good voice and feeling well.”

She called me back. “Merry Christmas! Yesterday helped a lot. I’m rehearsing in a minute.”

“What are you singing?”

“’The First Noel’ and a new song by my roommate Heather. She wrote the words too. They’re in the program. This morning is the world premiere. Hope you like it. Both, actually.”

“I will. Break a leg.”


She sang “The First Noel” early in the program. Her rich mezzosoprano was clear and powerful, without sounding too operatic or too Broadway for church. She didn’t use or need a microphone, and I didn’t hear one false note. The biggest crescendo in “The First Noel” all but blew me away.

I texted her: “Gorgeous! Powerful!”

She sent a smiley.

While the program plodded on, I read and reread the words of the new song. It seemed pretty ordinary until I heard it.

Kathy’s piano accompaniment was sparse but beautiful. Jill’s voice was different from before – still strong enough to fill the chapel, but meeker and simpler somehow. I wondered how good she had to be to make it sound so natural and so flawless too.

By then her roommate’s words were familiar.

When I think about the manger, 
Cradle of the infant King, 
I’d approach it, though a stranger, 
Bringing lullabies to sing. 

When I think about the mother,
Blesséd Mary, in that place, 
I would bring her cooling water, 
She who bore God’s Gift of grace.
When I think of gentle Joseph, 
Guarding Mary, guarding Him, 
I would bid him rest an hour, 
While I watched by candle dim.
When I think about the shepherds, 
Summoned by an angel throng, 
I would join them, kneel in wonder, 
Learn to sing a Shepherd song.
When I think about my Savior, 
Born and died a lowly Lamb, 
I would praise Him, follow, serve Him, 
Offer everything I am.

The last two lines repeated, almost:

I will praise Him, follow, serve Him, 
Give Him everything I am. 

Even the children near me were still, as her voice and then the piano faded to silence. I sneaked a sideward glance. Dad looked pensive; Mom and Mallory had tears in their eyes.

I, for once, didn’t mind being in church.

After the service Mom and Mallory gushed to Jill about her singing. Then Mom and Kathy decided our families would get together at our house for dessert after Christmas dinner.


“Cherry pie is the best,” Jill said. We were all in our big living room. She and I were on the love seat, but not snuggling or anything. She set her plate on the coffee table and leaned back.

“You ate like three bites,” I said.

“I’ll finish after I sing. Then I’ll need seconds.”

“We’re making you sing for your dessert?”

“I love to sing.”

“Works for me,” I said.

Kathy played our piano, and Jill sang the same two songs by Mom’s request. Even when she sang only loud enough to fill the living room, her voice was strong and steady – then tender and soft, but not weak. It pulled at my heart.

She listened graciously, while Mom and Mallory gushed again, and she told them about her roommate, when they asked.

Mom shifted gears without warning. “Jill, Mike, it’s unseasonably warm outside. You should take a walk.”

Kathy nodded her approval.

Jill and I traded knowing glances. “Pie or walk?” I asked.

“Both,” she said. “I’ll finish this, then we can walk. Then more pie.”


“How much of what you sang do you really believe?” I asked, as we rounded the first corner. It was too warm to see our breath.

“I don’t know what I believe anymore,” she said. “I don’t disbelieve everything. Why do you ask?”

“When you sing, I want to believe. You’re very convincing. Then the song ends.”

She smiled shyly. “I’m a singer. I sing what they put in front of me, and I sing it as well as I can. And like I said, I don’t disbelieve everything.”

“That new song’s amazing,” I said.

“Heather’s amazing. She mostly composes for orchestra. She’s headed somewhere big for a master’s program in composition next year. Juilliard, Curtis, Manhattan maybe. Big.”

“Her roommate’s amazing too,” I said. “You could sing my fast food receipts, and it would be beautiful. Do you have a fan club? I want to run for president.”

I could see her color by the streetlamp. “You’re overdoing it a little, maybe?”

“Maybe about the fan club,” I said. “Not about your voice.”

She took my arm. “Today’s Sunday. Tuesday we visit crazy Aunt Tonya, and I fly back on Wednesday for some weekend gigs. Can we do our long lunch tomorrow?”


She took me to a French café for a fancy four-course meal — my Christmas gift, she said. I’d left her gift in my room, which was the second time I’d forgotten it.

I couldn’t pronounce anything on the menu, but she was happy to help. Three years of high school French, another year in college, and last summer in Paris had her sounding pretty French to me.

We made small talk about shopping and gifts. The first course was cooked vegetables served cold with a vinaigrette, which I liked more than I thought I would.

She speared her last zucchini slice with her fork, and the small talk was over. “Any girl would be lucky to nab you for a boyfriend,” she said.

“Are you coming on to me?”

There was something soft about her smile. “No. I’m already lucky you’re my friend. I can’t spare you in that role.”

“Even after a year of not seeing each other?” I asked.

“We’ve always been friends.” She hesitated. “Did you want me to come on to you?”

I answered carefully. “If our schools were closer, and we wouldn’t be a total cliché, and you didn’t already know me too well, you wouldn’t be my last choice.”

“That’s a lot of ifs. Would I be next to last?”

“Way better than that.”

Since Sunday I’d been having a few small second thoughts, wondering if the impossible could ever be possible.

“What are you not telling me?” she asked.

I didn’t answer immediately, but she waited. She always knew when to do that.

Finally I said, “Two things, I guess.”

When I didn’t continue, she asked, “What two things?”

“The first thing I want in a girlfriend is a friend as good as you. Haven’t met one yet.”

“You will,” she said.

Our entrées arrived. Mine was something delicious they’d done with chicken. Hers was beef, and when I sampled it, I loved it too. We ended up sharing both.

She set her knife and fork on her empty plate. “May I confess something?”

“To me? Always.”

“I measure guys against you.” A wry smile flashed across her face and disappeared. “Haven’t found the right one yet.”

 “You will,” I said. “Besides, I’m not that good. That’s my second thing. I’m not a very good person at all. Speaking of confessions.”

“What are you talking about? You did a girl’s Christmas shopping for her, in some very girly places. You donate plasma every month. I’ve known you forever. You’ve always been one of the good guys.”

“Keep my secrets?” I asked quietly.

“Of course.”

“I lied about donating plasma.”

“O-kay,” she said slowly. “But you didn’t lie to me. I heard that from your mom. Lying to her isn’t good, if you did.”

“Yeah.”

“Why is not donating plasma important?”

“I lied so they wouldn’t be suspicious that I always have a little extra money. More than they realize, and they would hate the source.”

She stared at me. “You cannot possibly be a drug dealer.”

“No.”

“Or a male prostitute.”

“No.”

“Or a human trafficker.”

“No.”

“Then what would they hate?”

“I sell papers.”

She cocked her head and studied me. “You mean like school papers? Term papers?”

“Yeah.”

“You write for one of those sleazy online services?”

“Those are a rip-off,” I said. “Too easy to get caught. I ghost-write original papers to order. I even customize them to the person’s voice. I charge top dollar. There are some desperately lazy rich guys out there.”

She grimaced. “Wow.”

“They’ll kick me out of school if they find out. I’ll be lucky to get into any school after that.”

“But the money’s worth the risk?”

“Has been.”

“How’d you get into that? I mean, I know you can write.”

“I started helping people write their own papers, but that’s too much work for some of them. Some guys. No women.”

“Why not?”

“Too complicated. It’s easy not to care what guys think about me, but I’m afraid I’ll start to care what some girl thinks.”

I already cared what one girl thought of me. That girl was staring at her plate.

She looked up. “That’s not good.”

“It’s called academic fraud, I think.”

“They’d get kicked out too?”

“Probably, especially if they did it more than once.”

“Do they?”

“It’s mostly repeat business, and there’s plenty. I write three short papers a week, or one long. Just for English or Humanities classes.”

“How much?”

“Short papers, $500. They take maybe half a day. Long ones, $1500, and a couple of days, give or take.”

“Holy crap,” she murmured.

“Like I said, lazy rich guys.”

She stared at her plate again. “Well, it’s not like you’re a serial killer or a drug dealer.”

“More like a male prostitute,” I said.

“Not even that, Mike.”

“But you’re not pleased.”

She met my eyes. “No.”

Dessert arrived, some fruit that was out of season but perfect.

After a few bites, I stopped and took a deep breath. “What I didn’t say before is, if I were good enough for you or even close, I’d hit on you. You’re …” I shrugged. “You’re you.”

“Believe it or not, that’s debatable.” She smiled sadly. “I’m not so good either.”

“So you’re not sure you believe what they say you have to believe to go to that school. And maybe you wouldn’t go to church if you didn’t have to. My thing, any school would kick me out. Your thing, hardly any other school would care.”

She frowned, and her chin trembled.

“Sorry to disappoint you,” I said. “I won’t blame you if we can’t be friends anymore.”

Her eyes looked deeply troubled. “Can we go now?” She hadn’t finished her fruit.

“I can get an Uber, if you’d rather.”

She shook her head. “You’re with me.”

She paid the check, and neither of us spoke.

When she pulled us into the empty lot of a neighborhood park and turned off the engine, we still didn’t speak. We just stared straight ahead.

She finally turned to me. “Mike, I’m a fraud too.” I hadn’t heard her voice so unsteady since she broke her arm when we were six.

“You can’t fake singing like an angel.”

“That part’s real.” Her voice broke. “And thanks.”

It was my turn to wait. My heart began to ache for her instead of myself.

“Promise you’ll keep my secret, Mike?”

“You don’t even have to ask.”

She nodded. “I know. I might hit on you, except for one thing nobody knows. Except you, in a minute.”

I tried not to imagine.

“I’m not all that interested in guys,” she said. “I’m not … physically attracted … to men.”

“Are you –”

“Am I attracted to women? Oh, yes.”

My inner turmoil receded. “You’d be all over me, but you play for the other team?”

She winced. “That’s a little crass. I’m not in the game yet. But I’m thinking about tryouts.” She turned red. “Or the information meeting before tryouts. Something like that.”

“They have those?”

“It’s your metaphor.”

“Right. So … goodbye school, goodbye church?”

“Potentially,” she said. “But I don’t want to lose my voice teacher or my scholarship. Voice scholarships are hard to get.”

“Are you sure you’re …” I swallowed my half-asked question.

“Yeah. Sorry. Are you shocked?”

“Didn’t see this coming.”

She gave me a wry smile. “Want to try and talk me out of it?”

“Does it work that way?”

“No. I tried for a long time. Long before our first date. Long after too.” She shook her head. “There are some good guys at school. Freshman year, I let some of them kiss me. I tried to be physically attracted. Thought maybe I could at least be bi. This year, I quit trying. I am who I am. I think. Haven’t told anyone until you.”

“I can’t even imagine how tough that is,” I said.

“It helps to tell you. Thank you.”

Her face crumpled. I reached for her hand, and she clung to mine.

I expected sobs, but she just stared straight ahead, looking morose. Now and then a tear rolled down her cheek.

I thought through all the years I’d known her, looking for hints of what she’d just revealed. I found nothing. Then I began to imagine what it was like for her, especially at a church school. And how hard would it be at home? If she came out, would she ever come home again?

She took a deep, ragged breath. Her voice was gruff. “Do you still want to be my friend?” She sniffed twice. “You don’t have to. I’ll understand.”

“Of course I do. Do you still want me for a friend, knowing what you know?”

She looked at me with the same sad expression and nodded. “I love you. As, you know, as a friend. Always have.”

“I love you too,” I said. “As a friend. Always have.”

She tried to smile. “We should go. It’s getting cold.” She started the engine. “When we get there, could I have a long hug, please?”

“Long as I get one too.”

“That’s how it works,” she said.


On my front porch and still in my arms, she said, “You know how you asked if I believed what I sang?”

“Yeah.”

“I want to. I just don’t see how someone like me fits into all that.”

“I don’t know either,” I confessed. “Wish I did.”

“Yeah.” She took a deep breath. “I want to be a good person.”

“You already are.”

“I’m not honest about who I am. But I don’t know if I can stop pretending yet, and start jeopardizing … everything.”

I had nothing to say. No right to have anything to say.

“There’s a lot of good in you,” she said.

I could change the subject too. “Take you to the airport Wednesday?”

“Our moms will rejoice.”

“On the same false pretenses,” I said.

“If they think we’re more than friends with shopping, lunch, and transportation privileges, that’s on them,” she said. “I’ve never said we were more.”

“Me neither,” I said. “But they hope.”

“Someday we have to tell them.” Her eyes widened. “Not this week.”


Over dinner Mom and Mallory traded little smiles, until Mom finally said, “We saw you on the porch with Jill, looking cozy. Anything to tell?”

“Just friends, Mom.”

Not just friends, I thought. Friends.

“Looks to me like you love her,” Mallory said. “And she loves you.”

I nodded. “As friends.”

“Does she have a boyfriend at school?” Mom asked.

“Don’t think so,” I said.

Mallory took over for Mom. “Do you have a girl you’re not telling us about?”

“Not at the moment,” I said.

“So what’s stopping you? She’s amazing. And I’m your sister, so you can’t be a complete loser.”

“We’re friends.”

“You say so,” said Mallory, and changed the subject.

The subject in my head didn’t change. I flashed back to Jill saying she’d understand, if I didn’t want to be her friend anymore.

I wouldn’t understand. And she’d sounded so vulnerable.

“There’s a lot of good in you,” she’d said.

“That’s not good,” she’d said before that.

I knew she was right.


On Tuesday I worked on what to tell my clients, if I decided to quit. They probably wouldn’t want just a normal, honest level of tutoring. But they couldn’t rat me out without ratting themselves out – and their brothers and their houses. They were all from two fraternities.

I’d probably want to sell the gently-used Lexus SUV I’d bought in August, which my parents didn’t know I owned. The payments would be a problem. But I loved my ride. Great electronics. Heated, air-conditioned seats. It looked great on the road and in a parking lot.

Maybe one more semester. I could finish the school year, not leave my clients hanging, and get ahead some. I’d have an even longer runway if I added a few extra clients.

If I had a clear exit strategy and was executing it, maybe Jill wouldn’t be too disappointed.


“Before I forget again,” I said Wednesday, as we zoomed toward the airport in the Toyota, “I got you something for Christmas. Sorry it’s late. Hope it’s small enough to pack.” I pulled a gift bag from behind her seat.

“From Victoria’s Secret,” she said in mock wonder. “My friend Mikey is growing up.”

I smiled. “Hope you like it. I have the receipt, if you want to exchange.”

“Is this … ? Oh, vanilla’s perfect! Body spray and lotion? This is what I’d exchange for. Thank you! But I don’t have anything for you.”

“You bought me lunch, remember? Plus I got to hear you sing.”

“True, but we’re early, so let’s make one stop before the airport.”

“I don’t need anything,” I said.

“I won’t buy anything. It’s just a stop.”

“It” was a big music store near the freeway. Colorful window signs announced the Holiday Piano Extravaganza.

“If we’re not buying anything, why are we at a store?” I asked.

“You’ll see.” She pulled a leather folder from her carry-on. “In we go.”

Jill told the sales lady, “We’re looking for the right piano, a small grand. Bigger than a baby.”

“Excellent,” she said. “They’re to your right, as you see. Take your time. Looks like you brought music.”

“If it’s okay, I might sing too.”

“We love that here.”

Jill plinked on a few pianos, then insisted I sit beside her on the bench of a polished black Steinway.

“You’re singing for me?” I asked.

“Playing and singing. You can turn my pages for the first one. When I nod.”

“There’s more than one? Cool!”

“The first is because of you. The second is because I want to sing it again.”

The first sounded like a Broadway song. The title said, “Old Friends.” The jazzy piano accompaniment was fun, and if there was anything her voice couldn’t do beautifully, it wasn’t this.

She played the last riff, turned to me, and smiled. “Like it, my old friend?”

I’d been smiling since she sat us down. “I like it lot. Thank you.”

The new Christmas song was next. She turned to me for the last two lines, and I saw tears in her eyes.

I will praise Him, follow, serve Him, 
Give Him everything I am.

She let the final notes ring. I thought she was about to tell me something, but her gaze shifted, and the sales lady appeared beside me.

“It’s a beautiful instrument,” Jill said. “The sale ends Monday, right?”

“Right,” she said. “May I ask about the song you just sang? I’ve never heard it before. I’m sure I’d remember it.”

“It’s new,” Jill said. “Unpublished.”

“It’s beautiful,” the lady said. “Is it yours?”

Jill smiled. “No. I have very talented roommate.”

The lady glanced at me.

Jill chuckled. “No, he’s not that talented. He is a bit of a writer, but not my roommate.”

“We have a publishing imprint now,” the lady said. “Would your roommate be interested?”

Jill pulled a business card from her folder. “Heather’s card. You should ask her. Tell her Jill said to call. But I’m sorry, we’ll have to come back. We’re due elsewhere.”

In the car, as I reached to put the key in the ignition, Jill stopped me with a hand on my arm.

“I felt bad pretending I might buy it,” she said. “Especially when I need to stop pretending … other things.”

“She got something out of it,” I said. “Heather too, maybe.”

“Maybe. Mike, I want to be a good person.” There was a catch in her voice. “I’m going to work on that.”

“But?”

She looked at me for a long time. “You know the last line of Heather’s song?”

“I know it well.”

“I doubt God wants everything I am.”

A tear tumbled toward her chin. I stopped it with a finger.

“I’m not God,” I said. “So I don’t know.”

She faced straight ahead. “We should go.”

She was quiet until we merged onto the freeway. “I’m going to work on that,” she repeated. “Being a good person.”

“How?”

“Maybe take a while and figure out what I believe. Then figure out who I am, if I can, and see where it leads.”

“Where do you start?”

“I think by trying to believe again. Christmas is good momentum for that. When I sing Heather’s song, among others, I want to believe more than I do.” She sniffed. “It’s like she wrote it for me. Not just for me to sing. She probably didn’t.” She sniffed again. “She doesn’t know I might be hopeless.”

I gave her a look, and she approximated a smile.

Too soon we reached the airport exit.

“Jill, if you ever want to talk …”

“I will,” she said. “Same goes for you.”

“Even knowing what you know?”

“I thought about that. I know you’re my friend. I never thought you were perfect. I’ll still write my own English papers.”

“Here’s what you don’t know,” I said. “I’ve been thinking too. I’m quitting. I have to.”

“School or fake papers?”

“Papers. I’ll just tutor. Call myself a writing coach, maybe. Less money, but some. Then I can feel honest again and not worry about getting expelled.”

“Just quitting? Cold turkey?”

Traffic stopped, approaching the terminal, so I could look away from it for a moment. I looked into my oldest, best friend’s eyes and decided.

“Cold turkey. I had an exit strategy with one more semester, but yeah. I’ll call my clients this week and tell them I can’t anymore.”

“I’m so glad. What brought this on?”

“The truth? I want you to be proud of me. To know who I am and be proud of me. Guess it would be nice to be proud of myself too.”

She nodded slowly and reached for my hand.

“I’ll be proud of you,” she said. “Thanks for keeping my secrets. And hanging out. And the rides.”

I smiled for the first time in a while. “Being your holiday beard is a good gig.”

Traffic started to move.

“Friend is more than beard,” she said. “Can I tell you something?”

“Seriously? Never ask me that again.”

“I know. It just gives me an extra moment to gather my courage. It’s actually a question. Someday, when I find someone, if I find someone, do you think you’d want to meet her?”

“Sure.”

“It’s just that you might be the only one I know who wants to.”

“I hope not. But yeah, count me in.”

“Thank you. If I have children someday with the help of a sperm bank somewhere, and we happen to end up as neighbors, would you ever let my children be friends with yours?”

“Yeah, I would. You want children?”

“Not wanting a man going in doesn’t mean I don’t want babies coming out.” She smiled wryly. “I’m … queer that way.”

My eyes widened. “Did not need that image. But yeah, third-generation friends? That would be cool.”

“Thank you,” she murmured. “Will I see you at spring break?”

“I hope we’re both at the same time.”

“Hadn’t thought of that,” she said.

“If not, we’ll figure it out,” I said, as we pulled up to the curb. I hopped out and offloaded her suitcase.

She took my hands and smiled sadly. “We’ll figure it out. Good motto for both of us. Happy New Year, Mike, and I’m hugging you again. Then I’m going to miss you. I may sit and cry, when I get to my gate.”

“Happy New Year, Jill. I mean it.”

We finally let each other go. She walked into the terminal, and I drove away.

My Christmas break was a few more days, but it felt like it was over.

It felt like it was good.


Photo credits: Max Beck on Unsplash and Jordan Whitfield on Unsplash.


From the Author

David Rodeback

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