Chelsea sighed loudly over Kevin’s audible snores. This was not at all how she had imagined her Christmas day ending, even just a few days ago. She forced herself to concentrate on driving; thankfully, the snow that was falling was fluffy and light, like driving around a snow globe that has almost completely settled from its shaking. At least this was beautiful, and she had some presents to open once she got home. And at least she’d only snuck one mug full of cocoa and Irish cream before realizing Kevin was going to be too drunk to drive home tonight.
She had needed that one drink to take the edge off, though. Her parents had, at the last minute, decided they needed to “get away together,” and abandoned her for the holidays while they jumped on a flight to Jamaica to “focus on each other.” Ick. No child needs to hear those words, even if she was technically no longer an actual child. She’d sat at the adults’ table this year, after all, even if she’d gotten up repeatedly to help the younger kids fill up on hot chocolate. Although, she mostly did that to get away from her grandmother who couldn’t stop making comments about the rudeness of her parents deciding not to celebrate with everyone this year, and instead flying to an island to spend time alone together.
But that wasn’t Chelsea’s problem. She was old enough to know her parents had been having problems for a long time; any idiot could see that. Prior to this year, most family gatherings had included some whispering of surprise that her parents were still together, which always aggravated Chelsea. Sure, her family wasn’t perfect, and yeah, her parents fought a lot, but they certainly loved their daughter and always tried to do what was best for her, and that made them great parents in her eyes.
She’d brought a couple mini bottles of Irish cream liquor in her purse, and pretending to just want a “nice cup of cocoa,” poured two bottles into the mug, then threw the little bottles in the recycling, hiding them under some newspaper. Sure, she was freshly 21, but she didn’t want her family to know she was drinking. They were all a bunch of drunks, anyway, with their weird alcoholic beverages. Her grandmother would be on her about the amount of sugar she was drinking; Aunt Linda would have something to say about the calories. Kevin probably would’ve just stolen a bottle and chugged it. She was fine clandestinely sipping her deliciously spiked cocoa, thank you very much. And she possibly would have gotten up the nerve to drink it poured over ice in a fancy rocks glass had Kevin not gotten drunk so quickly. She should have known better. Too late now. At least she could go home, pour some Irish cream in a glass, add a few ice cubes, swirl, and drink comfortably in the privacy of her parent’s living room.
She pulled up to Kevin’s house and parked, nudging him awake. “Hey, Kev, wake up. KEV. WAKE UP!” she said, shaking him until he opened his bleary eyes. “I’m dropping you off at your place. Tell your roommates Merry Christmas.”
Kevin looked confused. “Babe, I thought I was gonna stay with you tonight.”
She shook her head. “No. I want to be alone. Thanks for coming, though, I do appreciate you tolerating my crazy family.”
He smiled. “It wasn’t that bad.” He leaned over and kissed her, and then stumbled out.
“Wait!” he said, turning back. “This is my car!”
She nodded. “Yes, honey, I know. I’ll bring it back tomorrow; I need to get home and be alone tonight.”
“Cool, cool. I’m gonna go in and drink beer with the boys. You sure you wanna be alone?”
“Positive,” she said, and drove away.
Her parent’s house wasn’t too far from Kevin’s apartment, thankfully.
She went inside, and piled her presents and purse on the kitchen counter. She opened the cabinet where her parents kept their modest liquor supply, and pulled out the Irish cream. Grabbing a glass from the cupboard, she added a few ice cubes and then filled up the cup. It was her mother who first let her occasionally have one of these after dinner, only on particularly stressful days (after the SAT, for example, or once she finished writing her 45 page term paper on Emily Dickinson’s usage of punctuation, specifically hyphens) saying that Chelsea had earned it. Her father had always disapproved of this, but what could he really do in those situations? She’d been basically an adult then, and definitely was one now.
She sipped the creamy, sugary, somehow alcoholic liquid (who could tell there was even alcohol in this?!), and went into the living room. She turned on the electric fireplace and settled down on the couch with a blanket on her lap, cracked open a book, and spent the late evening/early morning hours drinking her Irish cream and reading. Bliss.
Scent notes: Irish cream, salted caramel, espresso