Episode 381: RiverQuentin worked on the last of the day’s paperwork for his garage. His daughter sat in the chair opposite his desk merrily flipping through a toy catalogue to prepare herself for Santa’s lap in a little while. His wife occasionally watched him or Tansy and smiled, the rest of the time she wandered around his office, hugging her arms, that look in her eyes of grasping for something she couldn’t quite see.
"Can we go see Santa yet?" Tansy asked.
"Soon," he promised. She’d been anticipating the visit all month. They’d have gone sooner but Quent had had one busy day after the next putting on snow tires and repairing dents. He was hoping the bad weather kept up. He was hoping in the New Year to have enough savings to send Justine to school, give her something to find her way.
In the meantime, looking for a smile, he asked, "did Sebastian and Adria confirm for Christmas?" She’d loved that the year before. Much as Sebastian grated Quent’s nerves he’d be happy to have him if Justine was.
"Well, Bassie’s Christmas wish came early. Avalon asked him to move in with her."
"He’s looking after her while she recovers from a lobotomy?" Quent laughed, then more seriously added, "she’s welcome, too."
"She’s not feeling very sociable these days except with Bassie. And even though he claims he’s just there as a friend he sounded awfully pleased with having her all to himself for the holidays. And Adria wants a romantic first Christmas alone with Ryley, they’ve rented some snowy cabin in the woods for a week. She sounded really excited." Justine sounded torn between happiness for her siblings and that adrift thing that unsettled his stomach.
Quent quickly racked his brain for a feel good alternative. Not her parents. She mostly left his family gatherings feeling even worse about herself. "What if the three of us helped out at a soup kitchen?" It would certainly make her feel useful.
Justine brightened. "That does sound as Christmasy as family."
And bearing far less Christmasy tidings, David, a mechanic, walked in shaking his head, leaving Quentin to wonder if they wouldn’t be on the other side of the soup line. "A block away a sign says future home of Quick-Stop Auto."