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Episode 851: Star Of Wonder

Christmas used to make her so happy, a long time ago. Now half the holiday songs she heard sad undertones even when they were uptempo. It was like nothing sparkled the way it used to, either, not the freshly fallen snow outside or the tinsel her brother threw on their grandparents’ tree in gleeful clumps. She hadn’t helped decorate the tree, not even a little, and that used to be her favorite thing to come over and decorate her grandparents’ house with the whole family, racing around hanging up candy canes and eating gingerbread.

But this year, Tansy, as much as she longed to join in, had made herself sit on the sidelines. The sidelines were pretty much old hat for her at this point, it was how she got by in school, by disappearing herself. Her counselor tried to encourage her away from doing that, saying she shouldn’t let anyone force her to hide her light or whatever, but Tansy felt like it was better to hide your light than to have your light squashed.

It wasn’t so easy to avoid being squashed though, when an expert squasher sought you out. Tansy’s older cousin, Molly, dropped into the chair beside her and Tansy tensed.

“You’re afraid of me,” Molly said.

Tansy didn’t reply.

“I am sorry for how I acted last Christmas,” Molly said. “I know I told you that before, but it probably didn’t sound sincere since I’m usually not sincere when my mom tells me to do things.”

“But you’re sincere now?” Tansy rolled her eyes.

“I am sincere, I swear it. Sometimes I’m horrible like last year when I made you afraid that I’d bust open your privacy. I wasn’t going to do that. I shouldn’t have made you freak out. Sometimes I am nice and I realize how awful I am and so yeah, I really am sorry.” With that Molly stood up and walked away, but she came back, with two hot cocoas and a plate of gingerbread cookies, setting them on a small table and retaking her seat.

Molly handed a cookie to Tansy and nibbled on one herself before she said, “I’ve been thinking about you a lot lately.”

Tansy just frowned at that, thinking her cousin was probably setting her up for some kind of joke, like some of the kids in school would. She figured the other shoe would drop on her head any minute now.

“There’s this boy I like,” Molly said, pausing for another bite of cookie. “He just started at my school in September. He didn’t like me back, well, no, he did like me, just not that way. I didn’t take it well, my horrible self came out, I said awful insulting things. He’s wanted nothing to do with me since and it sucks because I do still like him. I want to be his friend now, just his friend, but he won’t let me. There are these guys at school, they’re giving him a hard time. I’ve seen it and I’ve tried to help but he won’t let me, I guess because of what a jerk I was or maybe it’s his pride or confusion or whatever, I don’t know, the thing they’re giving him a hard time about is that they think he’s gay. I think he’s struggling with them and maybe with himself, too, I guess. I see this happening and it’s had me thinking Tansy is even young than he is and I was so mean to you and so there’s one thing I’d really like to give him and you for Christmas.”

And so she did, Molly hugged her cousin tight.

Episode 852: Good Will To Men

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