Elk Christmas (Part 2)

Danielle stood at the door. The birds awakened from their stupor and lifted off. She smiled and turned around. She was going to tell the kids about the miracle.

They hadn’t even noticed she had gotten up. She looked at her kids. They were losers. Plain as that. A hard thing for a mom to admit, but it was true.

If they were losers, she was a loser because she had raised them or not raised them. They had no friends outside of Internet ones on gaming platforms, they never took walks or went to a park, they never talked to each other, they did nothing at school, nothing after school, nothing for their community, nothing around the house, nothing for their grandmother who lived a mile away, and nothing for their mother.

Despite receiving hefty allowances, none of them had purchased a single gift for their mother, not even a card.

Danielle shuddered at this and then remembered she hadn’t picked out a gift or card for her current boyfriend, a Tigard city planner she’d met online a few months ago. He’d put together a package of gifts that included a coupon for tennis lessons that he would teach himself. It was the nicest Christmas gift a man had ever given her and she apologized for not getting him anything. Busy, you know. Traffic and all that. Mom duties. Work. Soon, though, soon. She was working on it.

That was a lie.

What the hell was wrong with her family? With herself?

She hadn’t been raised with gadgets. She rode her bike to grade school. She’d served on student council in junior high. She was a cheerleader in high school with good grades and caroused at night. She completed a business degree at Portland State University while working for Target and waiting a table or two. She even had a dog in her 20s and walked and ran with it everywhere. Then came a serious boyfriend, marriage, a career in real estate she didn’t care a whit about, kids, bigger houses, more money, trips to corporate destinations, accumulation, more accumulation, affairs, divorce, dating, and now this Christmas morning where two knocked-out robins had knocked something into her. Or out.

Danielle thought she was going to cry. She had to get away from the house, Tigard. Right now. Bend was her usual getaway of choice, but she’d seen on the news that snow blocked all the passes. She whipped out her phone and looked up vacation rentals in Manzanita, where all the Tigard people went to visit the beach, but mostly shop and watch television.

Booked. Booked. Booked.