The moment I walk in that door, Aunt Bella will jump in with a barrage of questions about my poor life choices.
I barely attend family gatherings, but this one’s inevitable because cousin Jeffrey is getting married. The nail in the coffin, as I’ll be the only one unmarried. Anna, my girlfriend of one year, is helping mom to fix desserts. I tried to excuse her from coming but failed. I feel sorry and will seek forgiveness later.
Aunt Bella is sitting on a chair. She looks around and makes eye contact, but instead of running to me, she nods and turns her attention to the window.
This is all I’ve wanted; she leaves me alone. I tread to the bar, eyeing her cautiously, but she never moves.
“Something wrong?” Against common sense, I stand before her.
“Henry.” She smiles. “Miss me?”
“Life is short, Henry. I have lost many friends to Covid. I don’t want to waste time anymore. You do what you want.” She lifts her glass and walks away.
Astonished, I try to make sense of it. Everyone is different this year. And since I don’t have to reject their ideas actively, I consider them. Covid has changed a lot of people, and if the stubborn Aunt Bella is affected, should I really look into my future?
What am I waiting for? I am 34, financially stable, and Anna is my best girlfriend. She’s reliable, lets me have boys’ nights out, is the best cook, and never lets me down. Just two nights ago, she told me she loves me—
I shouldn’t waste more time. Aunt Bella is right. I power through guests and race to the kitchen. Reaching, I freeze to see Anna, mom, and Aunt Bella.
“First seed has been deployed. You will be engaged before the end of the night, dear.”
The three of them laugh and mention some subsequent strategies involving Jeffrey, mom’s aging, and a pregnancy scare.
Three hours later, I am sitting on the plane on my way back to my dog, with 127 miscalls in my phone.