I wonder just what to say
About this corporate holiday
Wonder what there is to pay
Spoilt kids get their way!
'Someone's a bitter kid this year,' Jane mumbled, her voice wavering with a chuckle. She wasn't sure if she was addressing herself, or the band that was playing down in the basement... their music had an unhealthy way of inching up the stairs sometimes. Christmas time in the Lane household was abysmal at best; not that Jane could expect much. Her parents saw no point in celebrating it, as they felt their family was close enough to feel comfortable being apart… as if that made any sense. Especially as they had explained this to a hysterical six-year-old who had been told Santa was a cooperate lie.
Jane's mind flashed back for a minute; she remembered being curled up outside, crying and alone in the night's cool air. That is, until Trent wandered outside (being 11 at the time) and guided her back into the warmth of their home. He explained they had something better than Santa; they had one another. Yes, cheesy, but the cheesiest of ideas had rung true over the rest of her life. She lived in a house, large and vacuous with the brother that had promised to stay by her side.
In reality, her parents had done her a justice in expelling the Christmas crap early on. It saved her later in life attempting to adjust to the truth of Christmas; lots of people spending lots of money on lots of crap.
Mystik Spiral continued on through their gaudy and barely lyrical songs, much to Jane's blatant discouragement. At Christmas time there seemed to be a universal obsession with a holiday that was barely plausible in an atheist's calendar. Yet, there it was, every year – and not cunningly either. Old men with beards and bright red clothes, reindeers that flew and presents being lobbed at sleeping children. Truly a magical time of the year, even for those who weren't even religious – it meant tacky frames, smelling soaps and Christmas cards so generic it would make Hallmark seem innovative.
They were in their lounge room; the windows were obscured with sleet rather than light, fluffy remnants of snow. All the melodies about this time of year seemed centred on the idea of a beautiful white Christmas - which was, of course, not the case this year. Sure there was snow, but it was so scattered and thin that it was more like the ground had dandruff.
It reminded her of the time Wind had attempted to run away during a snowstorm one Christmas to be with his then-girlfriend. He claimed that this supposed girlfriend knew what it really meant to be a family, and what it meant to have time together. This had only been about – 8 years ago. Jane shuddered – it all seemed too fresh in her mind, despite the fact it was almost a decade ago.
As the grungy musical numbers dwindled in favour of liquid courage, Jane moved her pseudo-workstation to the kitchen. She was attempting to build a sculpture and didn't need to listen to the bemusing musings of deadbeats. Not on Christmas Eve; especially not on her own, on Christmas Eve.
It didn't matter though; the drinking seemed to spill into the kitchen against her will. She wasn't about to join in either, as they all had a taste for beer and bourbon. Neither held much appeal for her; she liked her drinks green and hallucinogenic.
'Last girl you kissed?' They were playing some high school game of truth or dare. Apparently all the fun questions like last person you'd slept with were yet to be reached, though Jane didn't need to hear about Jesse's conquests, let alone her own brother's. The thought made her shudder more than the cold in her house. The heater was busted after all.
The conversation dwindled from cute conversations about kisses and hugs to outright nasty and obnoxious discussions of things. Jane continued to inch into her corner, wishing that Santa would bring her a portable CD player – or at least her mother or father bringing her back one from their travels.
'So I like… said to her she was… uh…' Trent gently prodded his empty beer bottle against the empty pizza box, his pinkie extended in a lame gesture of refinement, 'I forget… but the point is I said it.'
'You sure told her,' Jesse said with a grin.
Jane growled, her work inching further and further into her home before she was ultimately cornered in her own room. But, from the sound of the world outside her walls, a party was brewing. Strangers pooled in the basement, snaking up the stairs all the way to Trent's room, all clasping either an instrument or alcohol – or both. She wondered how the band had managed to draw a crowd. It seemed they had told a friend, who had told a friend, who had – well, it went on until this mess had appeared.
'This is getting ridiculous,' Jane murmured. Her outdated stereo slowly began to fizzle. A fuse had sparked, ruining her only means of ignoring the dim roar from outside. There was a few seconds of strained attempts to continue playing the album before it flat out died. 'Aw crap,' the girl winced, her canvas barely half-developed. It was Christmas Eve, meaning she had limited places to go; her parents were away in Peru helping an art exhibition. Her brothers and sisters (excluding Trent) were a mystery to her, one of the best Christmas presents she could hope for.
Jane considered her options for a moment, packing up her painting materials and her sketchbooks. Her hand routinely snatched up the phone, her thumb jabbing in a number before she had time to think about it. A few placated rings later Daria was numbly asked who was calling her home and probably expecting a last-minute well-wisher for her Quinn (who was currently out on a date anyway). 'Quinn's out, bye.'
'Wait, Daria,' Jane drawled, her paintbrush twiddling in her hand, 'I'll cut to the chase. My house has been invaded by twenty-somethings, and I'm feeling scared.'
'That they might not talk to you?'
'That they will talk to me. They're friends with Trent – it can only mean slow, boring discussions of which rift they think is best. Can I come crash your house?' Jane mostly expected an excuse; an excuse that would result in Jane having to spend the night idly attempting to befriend someone for the evening so she wasn't alone.
'And here I was about to wash my hair.'
Jane cringed, her eyes narrowed at her paintbrush. 'A subtle yet obvious no then. That's alright, I'll see you – uh – whenever, I guess.' Jane went to hang up the phone before hearing the gentle tone of Daria once more. Without hesitation she dragged the phone back to her ear – she issued a grunt to tell Daria it was time to talk once more.
'I was kidding.' Daria mumbled another few words, but they were lost in her own haste; there was a pause. Was Jane supposed to laugh? She waited before urging the other girl on, curious for her real answer. 'My mom asked if you were coming for Christmas anyway. She figured the nomad Lane household wouldn't be too festive this time of year. If you want, you can stay here and keep me sane… if you can handle that.' Daria offered little in her tone, but Jane took both the hint and the joke.
'So it's school all over again? Well... I'll see you soon then!' Jane wondered why she suddenly held the speech abilities of her brother Trent, but ignored it… Maybe it had something to do with the fact she was expected; maybe it was because she was being welcomed into a family on Christmas Eve, like some tacky orphan from a movie… She ignored the sentiment, packed herself a small bag and snatched up a present she had bought for Daria.
Jane was thankful to be included in a family, as dysfunctional as it may be. She would never admit to being jealous of Daria's overzealous mother and dim-witted father – at least they were around, and at least they showed they cared. The thought made her smile a little wider as she told Trent she was going out to Daria's. Something changed behind Trent's eyes, though she supposed he understood. He was surrounded by friends who shared the 90s approach to disinterested families, all drunk and all having fun.
And, for some reason, she hugged Trent goodbye. Promised him he could come over the next day too, and that they would be happy to accommodate the two of them. Something told her that Helen had planned to have the Lane kids over – it was in her nature to care. With that, Jane left her house and set off to Daria's, the thin snow suddenly appearing all the brighter.
It started snowing, too, but only lightly. Jane smirked, wandering aimlessly along the street trying to catch some in gloved hands. She felt like a kid again, excited about Christmas. After all, Santa had seen to her getting some of the best presents ever for a fictional fat guy in pyjamas.