The holidays had barely started and already she wished to be somewhere else.
“Say, when is it your time, Rosie?” Out of nowhere, Aunt Delia had appeared and presently stood smiling crookedly at her as if they shared some inside joke, before nodding in the direction of the kids rustling about. “Your parents aren’t getting any younger you know, no one wants to be ancient grandparents.”
Rose felt needles pulling the corners of her mouth in opposite directions, hoping without much hope that it was enough of a smile and answer for Delia. Alas, Auntie only regarded it as a challenge as she prepared her devastating reply. “Sometimes, my dear, you have to lower your standards. I did with your uncle and, frankly, at your age-“
“I think I hear Mama calling,” Rose blurted out before the killing blow had landed, and left Auntie raising her eyebrow, presumably thinking what a rude child her sister had birthed. Safe in the kitchen, Rose ticked off another relative on her list talking about her supposed future motherhood.
Grandpa Rob and Mom, two parties still not on that list, were deep into conversation about their special sauce and its elements of splendidness. Dad swung open the door, missing Rose with an inch, searching for a lost whisky bottle. He exclaimed for the gazillionth time how adorable cousin Jessica’s twin boys were, proving their worth as tiny humans by blabbering nonsense in non-alphabetical ways, before disappearing out again.
Stifling a yawn, Rose dug out her phone and pressed the app of impending disappointment. “Looking for my princess”, “Searching for the One”, “Delivers smiles to die for” – the lines came tumbling towards her, following a left swipe and her heart sinking even deeper. What was wrong with her? Did she really set her standards too high?
Then, feeling a sudden sting of annoyance, she gently scolded herself. I belong to myself, she thought, drawing a full breath. For the first time that evening, Rose returned her mother’s smile as she and Grandpa Rob showed off the sauce, ready to meet the family.