This is the 2nd in a mini series of short stories (there is 6 in all) of a family and the gifts they plan on giving during Christmas. The 2nd part is told by Taylor.
It was Saturday morning. As soon as I was ready, my father and I were going down to Vineyard Square to buy a Christmas gift for my mom. Right now, my mom was with my twin brother, Tyler in New York getting a Christmas gift for Dad. I woke up feeling incredibly happy – at first I didn’t know why – and then it dawned it on me that Tyler might be having a good time in New York with mom and this was my way of knowing. It’s just amazing how Tyler and I connect. I can’t even begin to explain it.
I stood in front of my mirror, all dressed, trying to decide whether to put my hair up in a ponytail or leave it down. I had long hair like my mother. In fact, I have my mother’s hair. I’ve got my mother’s nose, her cheekbones, her mouth, but my father’s hazel eyes. My brother, Trevor, has the same type of facial features. My twin brother, Tyler, and my little sister, Terri, takes after our father.
I think I’ll do a ponytail. I started to brush my hair out. I glanced down on my bureau and looked at a small-framed picture of my mom and I smiling, taken at her birthday party. My mom’s great. I really love her.
Both my brothers are special to me. Tyler and I just connect. It’s weird, you know, how we can like talk to each other without saying a word. We can share feelings and emotions with a look. I don’t know how we have that bond, but we do. I guess it’s a twin thing, you know? But Tyler doesn’t suffer from hemophilia. Trevor does. And I’m a carrier, like my mother. Hemophilia is a blood disease. Trevor’s blood doesn’t clot when he gets hurt and starts to bleed. He could bleed to death because of it. I don’t have hemophilia like Trevor, I won’t bleed to death, but I could pass it on, like my mom did.
Before Tyler left he made me promise to look after Trevor. He sees it as his responsibility to watch over him and keep him safe. He takes it very seriously. So, for Ty, if Trev needs me, I’ll be there. However, Trevor plans to take his girlfriend, Amy Kalorities, Christmas shopping today.
I finished brushing my hair and put it up. I adjusted my shirt’s collar and ran out of my room and down the stairs.
Dad and Terri were sitting on the couch in the living room and Dad was listening to Terri read him a book. It was sweet. Terri always brought the best in Dad.
“Hey, guys,” I said lightly, “I’m ready, Dad.”
“Hi, Taylor…” said Dad, glancing up at me, “You, ah, look nice.”
“Thanks, Dad,” I replied.
Terri looked at Dad, “Daddy, there’s only one more page. You can listen too if you want Biggest Tee girl.”
“All right,” I said, grinning at Terri. I rested my elbows on the couch in-between Dad and Terri and listened intently as Terri concluded her story. As she finished, I stood up.
My father looked at Terri and smiled, “You’re a good reader.”
“Thank you, Daddy…” said Terri sweetly, batting her eyelashes at him. God, that girl was such a flirt! And she’s only eight!
He stood up suddenly and clapped his hands, “Okay…now go get your coat on. I’m dropping you off at Jessica’s and then Taylor and I are going shopping.”
Terri stood up and looked up at our Dad, “Jessie and Will are taking me Christmas shopping too, right?”
“Yes, they’re taking you shopping. Don’t worry littlest Tee. Now go get your coat on,” said Dad.
I held out my hand, “C’Mon Terri – let’s get our coats.”
Terri took my hand and we went to the closet to get our coats. Dad went into his study and quickly came back out. We walked out the door all prepared for the December cold and piled in Dad’s car. I sat in the front and Terri sat in the back. Dad pulled out of the driveway.
“Daddy, I miss Mommy. When will she be back?” asked Terri.
“Tomorrow night, Terri,” said Dad.
“Do you miss Mommy too Daddy?” asked Terri.
“Yes,” said our father softly.
“Do you, Taylor?” asked Terri, fussing with the buttons on her coat.
“Of course, Silly,” I answered her.
Dad stopped at a red light.
“What are you getting Mommy for Christmas, Taylor?” asked Terri sweetly.
I looked at Dad and giggled, “I’m not telling you. You’d tell Mom! You can’t keep a secret!”
“No, I promise Taylor. I’d never tell…” said Terri. Dad drove off when the light turned green.
“Well, I still don’t trust you – or your big mouth…” I replied.
Our father giggled.
“That’s not nice, Taylor!” pouted Terri.
There was a brief silence.
“Daddy, what are you getting Mommy?” asked Terri.
“I’m not telling you either Theresa Victoria,” said our father playfully. He pulled into Jessica and Will’s duplex.
Terri pouted and fussed, “I can too keep secrets…”
We all got out once Dad parked the car and rang the doorbell.
Jessie opened the door smiling and invited us in. Will showed up and Terri gave both Jessie and Will a warm hug. Jessie looked up from hugging Terri.
“Hi, Uncle Cam. Hi, Taylor. How are you guys today?” asked Jessie
“Okay Jessie,” said Dad, “And you?”
“We’re doing okay,” grinned Will.
I waved at Jessie and Will.
“Terri,” said Dad, bending down to her level, “I want you to be good for Jessie and Will and I’ll pick you up later on this evening when Taylor and I get done.”
“Okay, Daddy,” grinned Terri, “I love you.”
Our father’s face melted, “I love you too.”
Terri and I exchanged hugs and Dad and I left. I talked Dad into going down to Gloria’s Diner first so I could get Gloria’s opinion on what I wanted to buy.
Dad parked the car and we walked into the diner. He placed a protective hand in the small of my back as we walked in. Gloria was behind the counter with her nephew, Diego Sanchez. Diego was my age and was in a few classes with me at school. Dad sat down awkwardly at the counter.
“Hola, Gloria! Diego!” I said, grinning at them.
“Hola, Taylor,” said Diego, returning my smile.
“You look nice today, Mija,” said Gloria smiling, “Hi, Cameron.”
“Gloria. I’ll take some coffee,” said Dad, looking mildly uncomfortable. Diego poured him a cup and then went to pour some other diners a cup.
“What brings you by?” asked Gloria.
I reached into my pocket and pulled out a picture, showing it to her, “I want to get this for my mom for Christmas. What do you think? Do you think she’ll like it?”
“It’s a lovely Coqui. Of course she’ll like it,” grinned Gloria.
I was happy Gloria approved. I put a lot of thought into this gift.
The door opened and Nancy Blackwell walked in with her younger son, Troy. Troy was Brady’s younger brother and in my grade too. We had a few classes together as well. Nancy and Troy joined us at the counter. My father slugged his coffee down as he exchanged dirty looks with Nancy.
“Hi, Taylor,” said Troy, smiling at me.
“Hi, Troy,” I said, returning his smile.
Diego frowned as he walked back behind the counter.
“So, ah Taylor, maybe we should go?” hinted my father, throwing a few bucks on the counter.
“Ah, okay…” I said, surprised at his quickness.
“Ah, Taylor…” spoke up Troy.
“Yeah?” I said, turning around quickly to look at him. Troy was very handsome – and shy. Quite the opposite of Brady’s big mouth.
“Ah, did you do the Algebra homework? I’m having problems with number three…” he said, awkwardly. I got the impression Troy didn’t really want to talk about Algebra.
“I did. I’ll give you a call later on tonight and we’ll work it out, okay?” I said.
My father and Nancy just stared at each other – as if they were trying to outstare each other.
“Taylor,” said my Dad, “We should go…”
I stood up.
“Ah…Taylor! Mr. Masterson!” exclaimed Troy, reaching out to us with his hand. Nancy looked worried.
My Dad looked at Troy intently, then to Nancy, then back to Troy.
“Ah, yeah…Troy?” he said.
I looked at Troy a little confused. This was a bold move – even for him.
“Can I take Taylor to the winter social at school next week? If she wants to go?” asked a hesitant and nervous Troy playing with his hands, but firm in his question and meeting my father’s eyes. I could tell this wasn’t easy for him. Troy was so different from his brother. A lot more sensitive – and kind. I’d never seen Troy raise his hand or use words in anger as I’d seen Brady do.
My father looked at Nancy Blackwell while I looked at Troy, smiling, trying to ease his nervousness.
“Did I hear this right? Your son asked my daughter out?” My father was very surprised.
“That’s what I heard,” confirmed Nancy crossing her arms.
Troy continued to look nervous. My father put a protective hand on my shoulder.
There was an awkward silence.
“Come on, Cameron, it’s just a date,” said Nancy, “Taylor’s a nice girl.”
“Cam, what would Katrina say?” prompted Gloria.
Troy’s beautiful, sensitive eyes found mine.
“Katrina…Katrina…I know what Katrina would say…” stammered my father, as if he’d just been caught like a deer in the headlights. Then he looked at me.
“Look, Troy, I don’t know you that well, so I’m going to say no…” said my father firmly. And as an afterthought he said, “Don’t take it – personally.”
“Ah, yeah, sure…Mr. Masterson,” muttered Troy, clearly his confidence had been shaken by my father’s refusal.
“Cameron, look! Troy is a good boy. He doesn’t get into trouble,” said Nancy defending her son, “And he genuinely likes Taylor. He would never hurt her.”
“Oh, like compared to your other son, Brady who is always bulling and intimidating my hemophilic sick son? I don’t trust you Blackwells. Especially with my daughter,” said my father firmly. We turned around and walked toward the door, that protective hand still on my shoulder.
“My precious daughter,” he whispered.
Our departure from the diner was abrupt and as we walked down the street to the knickknack store that had my gift ,the air between us was silent. Then suddenly, my father stopped dead in his tracks and looked at me, his hands tucked in his pockets but his face very serious.
“Go ahead, say it. You’re mad at me, aren’t you?” he asked, his voice full of concern.
I stopped and looked at him, “Yes…and no.”
“Huh?” he asked, looking confused, “Are you sure you’re my daughter? You aren’t some pod are you?” He lightly joked. “Where’s your Masterson temper? Your Aceves fire?”
I gave him a light smile, “I think Tyler got my dose while we were fermenting in the womb.”
My father laughed, “All right. I’ll buy that.” He spied a bench and motioned for us to sit down. I hoped this talk wasn’t going to take long because it was cold out. To me, it seemed my father was impervious to the cold.
We sat down and he tucked a wisp of hair behind my ear, “So help me out here. Are you mad at me or not?”
I smiled, “Dad, Troy is a nice guy. He’s nothing like Brady and I even think he’s cute,” I said pausing, feeling the color rush to my face, “I’d to think that if he’s the one I wanted to go to the winter social with, you’d trust my judgment, and me, enough to go out with him,” I started.
My father winced at my words, “So, are you saying…you didn’t want to go out with him?”
“Yeah. I like Troy, but as a friend. I’m not interested in having a boyfriend. Boyfriends just get the way…” I explained.
“Taylor, you know, I only joked about you being a nun. Don’t you like guys?” asked my father with concern.
What? What was going on in that mind of his? Did he think I was gay or something?
“Dad! I’m determined to be a doctor and nothing is going to get in my way. I want to get good grades in school and I’m not going to let anything distract me from what I want. Including boys…” I explained.
“Oh. That’s good, I guess. You sound a lot like your mother when you talk like that,” remarked my Dad.
“But Dad, what if it was Diego who asked? What would your answer have been?” I asked seriously. He wasn’t off the hook completely if that’s what he thought.
“Well, I probably would have said yes. I know Diego. He’s not such a bad kid,” replied my Dad.
“Diego’s also not a Blackwell,” I pointed out, “That’s the real reason you said no. Troy is a Blackwell.”
My father looked at me with incredibly sad eyes, “Taylor, have I ever told you how special you are to me?”
“No…” I whispered.
“You’re special because out of all of my children, you look the most like your mother. You’re so much like her, I don’t know if you even see it. And your mother means the world to me. And the Blackwells, Brady Blackwell, he’s given Trevor and Tyler a fair load of grief and I don’t want that for you. It’s MY job to keep you safe Taylor. MY responsibility. I swore I would do anything to keep MY children safe and I meant it,” said my father passionately, looking into my eyes.
“Dad…” I whispered, speechless.
He looked at me sweetly, “You’re a gift, Taylor. A gift your mother gave to me. A gift I hold precious and special and close to my heart and I’ll do everything in my power to treasure her gift and keep you safe.”
“Aw, Dad,” I whispered. I put my arms around him and gave him a big hug, snuggling next to him. Partly because he had been so sweet and partly because I was cold. He put his arms around me and held me just as tight.
“Come on. Let’s go get that gift for your Mom. It’s getting cold out,” he whispered, standing up.
My father isn’t impervious to the cold, after all…
I joined him, smiling, and we briskly walked off.