I chose the image of the pumpkin pies and recyclable cans for my twenty-minute sprint today. We’re a little ahead of season for fall squash pies, but oh well.
Cary finished washing the last of the dishes from making the pies and set everything on the towel on the counter to dry. They’d already filled the drying rack and Cary hadn’t had time to dry anything yet.
“Pies in the oven?” Kelly asked, peeking in through the window in the over door.
“The pumpkin ones anyway,” Cary replied. “I promised Mom I’d make a pecan too.”
“Ooh,” Kelly said, her eyes bright and wide as she looked over at Cary. “The normal or the chocolate one?”
“Probably both since I know you like the chocolate better,” Cary replied, laughing. His little sister loved sweets of all kinds, but especially anything chocolate.
“You love me,” she said, throwing her arms around his neck and kissing his cheek. “I’ll help if you want,” she added as she let go. “I can be a dish troll or help measure things or whatever will allow me to be supportive and not throw off your flow.”
“Let’s start with drying dishes,” Cary said. “I’m running out of room and I’ll need some of this for the other pies.”
“Yes, sir, ma’am, sir,” Kelly said, actually snapping her heels together and saluting him before grabbing the dish towel from its hook over the sink. “You’ll have to help me remember where you put all this stuff, but I can at least get it all dry for you.”
“Just stack it all on that counter,” Cary said, waving to the one furthest from the stove. “I’ll need some of it left out anyway.”
“So when is David getting home?” Kelly asked.
“Hopefully in time for dinner,” Cary replied.
“Is it a deadline again?” Kelly asked softly. “Or something else?”
Cary’s husband David worked for their local newspaper. It was the kind of small town paper that still put out editions on holidays and on the day after, so David very rarely got an entire holiday off.
“He volunteered this year,” Cary said. “So his counterpart could drive up to see her parents. It’s a fourteen-hour trip, and she only asks every other year.”
“Aren’t there other people that can be acting editors during holidays?” Kelly asked.
“There are,” Cary replied. “But they’re all more senior than David, and not as nice.” Secretly, Cary thought the Editor in Chief always asked David first knowing that David would volunteer and then he could take advantage. He didn’t think it was because David was gay, just that David had family that was local and didn’t appear to mind missing big chunks of the holiday time.
“Does he mind?” Kelly asked. “I mean really? I know he doesn’t let his boss know if he does.”
“I don’t think he does,” Cary replied. “He liked being helpful, and letting others have the time and space to visit with family. It probably doesn’t hurt that he doesn’t see his family, so this gives me some alone time with you all, and keeps him out of the way while I’m cooking.”
Kelly laughed. “Yeah, one person invading your kitchen is plenty, right?”
“You aren’t invading,” he said, giving her a one armed hug as he passed her on his way to the pantry to start gathering ingredients for the next set of pies.
“It helps that we can come down for the whole week too, huh?” Kelly asked. “So we still get to see a lot of him even if he’s working half days most of the week.”
“I’m glad you can take so much time,” he said. There had been a few years when she hadn’t been able to get any time off at the holidays, but now she was a senior designer at the firm and she could take time whenever she wanted as long as her projects stayed on time. She was amazing and efficient, so it gave her a lot more flexibility.
“I’m glad you’re in a job that lets you now too,” she said. “I was worried you were going to stay in retail forever.”
“Yeah, no,” Cary replied. He’d started working at the local bookstore when he was in high school, and kept with it through college and after. He’d been the store manager, second in authority only to the owner by the time he’d finally found something he liked better. He’d loved the owner, and he still loved the bookstore, but the stress and rush at the holidays was excruciating.
Now he was the executive assistant to the vice president of human resources at a staffing firm. He worked from home 75% of the time, because when she wasn’t in the office, she didn’t need him to be. She took at least a week off for each holiday, and as long as he kept her schedule up to date for the week after and had all her expenses turned in on time, she encouraged him to take extra time at the holidays too.
“Look who I found?” their mom said as she breezed into the kitchen.
She had their cat Oliver in her arms and David trailing behind her.
“You got out early,” Cary said with a smile.
“Three of the staff writers insisted on staying late to help finish the layout and editing so I could,” David said.
“You’ll have to take them goodies in thanks,” Cary replied, stepping over to give his mom and the cat a quick hug and then kiss his husband. “You’re all welcome to stay as long as you park yourselves at the bar and stay out of my cooking space,” he said with a broad smile.
David laughed, and slid onto his favorite barstool. He rested his chin in his hand with a smile. He’s spent half of their dates the first year watching Cary cook dinner.