As soon as the doors of the elevator opens, Carol hears the echoes of Easy Living floating down the hallway. They’re lucky their neighbors seem to like that song too, because even after about two years of living here, Carol and Therese have yet to receive noise complaints about that one apartment that plays Easy Living at least ten times daily.
Anyway, that could only mean one thing. Rindy is staying with her for the next couple of days, so that must mean Therese is finding ways to amuse Rindy by now. At six years old, they’ve moved on from coloring books to piano lessons, and oh how adorable it is when her two angels are at the piano together! If only Carol was as good a photographer as Therese, she’d have taken a photograph of those two already. Besides, some images she would like both memorized in her mind and immortalized on paper.
She approaches their apartment door as Billie Holiday’s voice begins to sing the chorus. Oh, the number of times they have played this song. The number of songs they have discovered together, and yet this is still their favorite. It brings Carol back to their first Christmas, all the first times, and oh, Carol is glad she made the choices she did all those years ago.
She turns her key to their apartment while humming along to the chorus. While expecting to find Therese and Rindy on the piano, she opens the door to find them hunched over by the Christmas tree, their backs to her. The tree, while put up days ago, had yet to be decorated since both Carol and Therese had not been free the whole week. And now, it’s glittering. Positively shining with ornaments.
“So, you just decided to decorate without me?” The door closes behind her, and she slips her heels off beside it. “Didn’t even think to ask me what decorations I’d prefer?”
“Mommy!” Rindy exclaims, and Carol swoops her up. Rindy might be six, but Carol would be damned not to get excited over every time she comes over. Harge has become a little more lax on the visits, but it still isn’t every day. So, Carol makes the most of it every time.
Carol puts Rindy down as Therese nears them. “How was work?”
“Oh, the usual.” Carol shrugs her coat off her shoulders, and Therese laughs. “Can’t go a day without a man explaining to me something I understand more than him.” Therese helps her with her coat, and Carol turns to her. If Rindy weren’t here, it would’ve been a big, sloppy kiss on the lips. But Rindy is here, and Carol and Therese cannot yet end up tangled in the bedroom. “And how was the tree decorating?”
“Well,” and Therese looks over at Rindy, who is almost vibrating off the floor with excitement. “Someone came in early and thought the tree was looking a little bare.”
“Why would you have a Christmas tree without decorations?” Rindy says. “Aren’t you supposed to decorate it as soon as it’s put up?”
“Well, sweet pea, we’ve been busy.” What with work and everything, they have been busy. Oh, and from the brief look Carol shares with Therese, it doesn’t take much for Carol to remember the other reason they’ve been busy.
“Well, anyway, I decided I had to help you and Aunt Therese decorate it.” Rindy has her chin high and her hands on her waist. “If I let you wait too long, it might be Christmas before your tree gets decorated.”
“I wouldn’t be so quick to judge, dear, it’s only the seventh of December.”
“But you’ve had the tree for a week already!”
Carol raises a brow and looks over at Therese. Therese shrugs with a smirk. “She asked.”
Carol shakes her head, if only to try and shake off some of the amusement coming off on her lips. “And was she any help, dear?”
“Oh, she was.” Therese says, and when she smiles, Carol marvels at how Therese’s dimples show with a little tinge on her cheeks. Therese’s eyes are bright, and Carol feels her heart flutter at the sight. Oh, she is so in love with her. “She even decided the pattern of which ornaments go where.”
“I’ll show you, Mommy!” With a laugh, Carol lets Rindy pull her to the tree. Therese finds her other hand, and Carol lets her lace their fingers together just as she feels Therese kiss her on the shoulder.
“I saw you and Aunt Therese didn’t have as much red, so I thought I could spread it over the tree.” Rindy is motioning over the whole tree, and while Carol sizes it up, she feels Therese rest her chin on her shoulder. Carol turns her head to kiss Therese on the head, and she is met with Therese’s own kiss to her jaw. “Aunt Therese helped me with the taller bits.”
“It looks fantastic, sweet pea.” Carol says, and squeezes Therese’s hand. “Maybe Aunt Therese and I should have you decorate our tree more often.”
Rindy giggles, and Therese just nuzzles closer against Carol. Carol looks beside her, to Therese who looks up at her. Rindy in her living room, Therese right beside her, and all three of them in an apartment Carol can say belongs to her and Therese after two years of living together, and would be theirs for years and years to come. Carol smiles.
This was easy living, indeed.