A Most Troubling Bonfire
The bonfire crackled quietly as I stepped closer to keep warm. The backyard was decorated with fairy lights wrapped around the trees surrounding the area and the wood porch leading inside the house. Large Christmas ornaments hung in the trees to act as some half-assed décor to lighten the fact that everyone at this party had nowhere else to go this Christmas.
“What are you in for?”
I looked up to see the guy who joined me by the fire. He was wearing jeans, a plaid wool jacket and what looked like cowboy boots. He looked up at me as he blew on his cup of hot chocolate. It was one of the two beverages they served here. The other being hot cider.
“Parents died in a car accident last year.”
He choked on his hot chocolate.
“Need a little spice in your drink?” I asked pulling out the flask from my back pocket.
“After hearing that, yeah,” he grabbed the flask and took a swig before pouring a little in his drink.
“What about you?” I asked.
“What about me?”
“Why are you here?”
“Oh!” I could almost hear the unsaid duh in his response. I smirked behind my cup as I took a drink.
“My fiancée told a lot of lies and turns out she’s been screwing my brother for over a year. They’re together officially. I thought dinner would be kind of awkward this year. So, I figured this Christmas outcast party sounded like a good idea.”
“That’s rough,” I said taking another drink of my hot chocolate. “You sure you don’t want to add a bit more spice to your drink?” I joked.
He shook his head. “I think you need it more than me.”
“What are you going to do next year? You can’t ignore your shitty brother forever.”
“I could if I really wanted to.”
“You’d regret not speaking to him if one of you died unexpectedly.”
He nodded and his eyes widened at the understanding I had implied. “That was a low blow you know?”
I chuckled and shrugged. “One of the perks of dealing with the people you love dying. So, what are you going to do?”
“Not sure. I’m actually going to have to think it about now thanks to you.”
“Just communicate how you feel with them.” I grabbed a log and tossed it into the fire.
“If it were that easy to communicate with each other don’t you think they would’ve told me about them sleeping together instead of me walking in on them?”
“Rough was an understatement,” I said taking out the flask again. He laughed as I took a drink before holding it out for him.
“Might be easier if I bring someone along with me,” he said taking a drink.
“What do you say then? Want to go on an awkward first date with me?”
I feigned shock, “You mean this isn’t a date?”
He laughed. “Not enough family drama for a first date.”
I raised an eyebrow “My parents dying isn’t enough drama for you?”
He reminded me of a cartoon in that moment and I thought his eyes would pop out of his head. “That’s not- I didn’t mean-What I meant was-” he stumbled over what to say and it made him look like a fish out of water.
I laughed. A first real laugh in a long time. “I’m Joy.”
“Your parents sure had a sense of irony,” he joked, and I couldn’t help but smile. “I’m James.”
Photo by Josh Felise on Unsplash