A short story written by Andreas Röding
Thursday, 24th of December 2020
“And you really need to go?“, his mother asked in a confused way, putting her morning coffee aside. “Unfortunately yes! The client is one of my biggest! I can not afford to let this deal burst into flames. I need to handle the situation right now!” “On Christmas Eve? Come on boy, is this really necessary?“, his dad intervened. “Yes, it is! But you will not understand, I get it! You told me to come home for Christmas and here I am! What do you want more? I will visit you again very soon, as easy as that! Where is the problem, really?! I just don’t understand!”, Eduard replied harshly, not looking away from his mothers face. “Well, we can’t stop you anyways, can we? When will you leave?“, his mother seemed to finally gave in a little bit. “As soon as possible, actually! I will go upstairs, take my stuff and drive back home instantly.“, Eduard decided on the spot. “Can’t you stay at least for lunch?“, his brother suggested helpfully. “You as well? Come on dude! Do I really need to explain this a second time?!?!“, Eduard’s voice got louder now. “Ok, ok! Whatever! Thank you for your visit, honey! See you soon, my son!“, his mother finally gave in completely.
Moments later, the scream of a 911 boxer engine woke up the rest of the still sleeping neighborhood. “Call Jenny“, Eduard demanded rather aggressively, gripping the steering wheel firmly as if it would otherwise slip out of his hand. “Hey there!“, a female voice replied. It was Jenny, his personal assistent. “Thank you for taking the call, I mean it! Have you already read the email?“, Eduard responded, his voice being surprisingly friendly. “Yes, I have. But I just don’t understand! Where do they got these numbers from?“, Jenny asked excitedly. “I don’t know! But we will figure this out!” There was a moment of silence on the other side of the line. “Ehm, sorry, I meant, I will figure this out!“, Eduard continued, imagining Jenny standing disappointed in front of her decorated Christmas tree! Of course it is Christmas today, how could he forget? Work can wait! Right? Would it be too much to ask her to come into the office today? Just for a couple of hours of course? Eduard shook off his thoughts. It’s Christmas for Christs sake, I will not destroy Jenny’s Christmas because of this stupid deal. “You will stay where you are! Enjoying your time with the family and stuff! I will manage this on my own!” “Are you sure?“, Jenny asked carefully, knowing that she was walking on thin ice now. “Yes, I am sure! Just tell me where I can find all the documents!” “Ok boss!“, Jenny answered with a smile, knowing that her Christmas Eve was rescued. As they hung up, Eduard’s thoughts kept thinking about Jenny for a bit longer. He was imagining her, having the most perfect Christmas evening with her boyfriend, the world has ever seen. It was not Jenny that he had dreamed about, but rather the concept of having someone like her, an actual girlfriend that would spend those special days together with him. “Well, whatever! I have a job to do!“, Eduard let go of the thought and overtook the car in front of him restlessly.
“Can’t wait to see your face this evening shocked in surprise!“, Michael had told her on their morning walk. “Shocked in surprise? What does he even mean?“, Anika thought. In the last two days, Michaels behavior was more than just puzzling. Sure, she was used to having this over enthusiastic boyfriend, but his recent actions were on a completely different level! “What is he even doing? What is wrong with him?“, Anika continued thinking, laying comfortably on her couch, enjoying a hot chocolate and her most favorite cake, Michael had miraculously brought out of the kitchen. “The hell!“, her jaw dropped to the floor. “When have you learned to bake like this?“, she added in surprise. “Well, there are a lot of things about my past, I haven’t told you yet!“, Michael answered secretively, trying to get her attention. “Oh right! My boyfriends past as a secret agent for the crown! How could I forget!“, Anika responded in awe, having another sip of her still too hot chocolate. “So, tell me then! Who or what is responsible for this awesome cake?“, she asked overconfidently, knowing that it couldn’t possibly be his own creation that was sitting right on top of the plate in front of her. “Was it Kathrin?“, Anika added promptly, not giving him any time to think about a better answer. “Ehmm, maybe!“, he replied eagerly, smiling from one cheek to the other. “I knew it!“, she countered, thinking about Kathrin trying to teach him even the most the basic of things about baking and failing miserably, ending up doing the cake herself. “So, can I expect having the pleasure of eating my favorite cake more often, then?“, Anika bursts out into a laugh. “Every single day until the rest of your life, honey!“, he responded.
Like a knife, these last words stung right into her stomach. “What has he just said? Every single day until the rest of my life?” An ice cold shower rushed down her back. She finally seemed to understand! “The breakfast in bed, watching her most favorite movies, the massage, her favorite cake, this over excitedly boyfriend.” It made click inside of her, as her blood was rushing into her face like a torrential river, causing her nearly to turn right on the spot into a tomato. “Oh my god! He will not! Fuck, no!“, panic, there was just pure panic spreading all over her body. Anika started to freak out! “No! He will not! Please, God! No! Not today!” But it made just so much sense! They were together for almost two years. It was the Christmas time they had met. “Oh fuck! NOOOOOO!“
It must have been a new all time record. Eduard parked his car, walked past the Aston and went up into his apartment. He had stopped by the office and was carrying stacks of documents and folders into the wide open living room of his penthouse suite. A mentor of his once told him, that separating the house into a work- and non working section was the way to go. Well, normally he gave his best to follow such advise, but today he just did not care. After going back to the Porsche a second time, getting all his other stuff. He changed his cloths into something more comfy and started to go through the complete project from start to finish.
He must have sat there for ages, because the sun was already saying goodbye at the horizon. Eduard leaned back on his couch, holding the contract in his hands watching the sun go down. “What am I even doing here? Going through these documents like a squirrel on cocaine. Is this how I usually work? Come on Eduard! You need to turn this damn situation around and actually get the project back under your control!“, he encouraged himself, having a sip of water to clear his head for a moment. “Think, man! Think! What is this problem really all about? Why have they send this email this morning? Was this all just a trick? A way to increase the pressure? Has this client thought he would get a discount on a day like this? Or is Tom responsible for this?” Since his partner has left the company after a big fight they had in the early beginning of the year, Eduard was always afraid about the consequences of a raging ex business partner, trying everything in order to destroy his company he had build up literally out of nothing. “No way that it is him! It can’t be!“, Eduard tried to convince himself.
As his stomach started to growl, he noticed that he hadn’t even eaten something on this very day. “Eduard, you need to stop this nonsense right now! Stop freaking out! It is like it is! Today is Christmas man, stop going through these documents another one thousand times! Go and eat something, open a bottle of wine or go out for a run!“
“Dinner is ready!“, Anika shouted from the kitchen. “Yay!“, she heard Michael bursting out yelling from the living room! “Finally!”, Michael added, touching her side as he walked towards her in the kitchen. “You take this one and I will carry the rest!“, he insisted eagerly, giving her the bottle of red wine he had placed behind the counter hours ago. “As you wish!“, Anika replied plainly, grabbing the bottle and heading towards the living room. It must have been at least half an hour she hasn’t left the kitchen and found to her surprise, or rather not to her surprise, that the living room has undergone a redecoration. “Fuck me!“, it shot right into Anika’s eyes. “I can’t do it! I can’t marry this guy! Not right now! Not in this phase of my life!“, her inner voice started to stutter. Her worst nightmare became a reality. From the bottom to the ceiling, the whole room got plunged into a mixture of little hearts and roses. It was as if Christmas meets Valentines day. “He will be so disappointed! Oh my fucking God! This is going to be messy! Why is he even doing this to me!?”
Tears started to run down her cheek, as she felt the urgent need to take a seat. Her knees trembling, her hands ice cold. Was she in shock? Was she breaking down? Mixed feelings overcome her whole body. As she tried to place the wine bottle on the table next to her, she nearly misplaced it on a fork, but Michael grabbed it just in time before the bottle could flip over. “Are you ok?“, Micheal asked excitedly from her back, touching her shoulder softly. “I .. ,I …, I am ok!“, Anika managed to stutter back at him, supporting her stand at the chair in front of her. Micheal had of course not intended to carry the dinner behind her into the living room behind. Instead, he had followed her silently, checking a last time that the ring was still placed in his right jeans pocket.
“Micheal, before you say anything! I …, I just can’t! I can’t do it! Not right now! Not here! Not so! I am so sorry!“, she managed to mumble quietly as even more tears started to rush down her beautiful face. Micheal just stood there. Processing the input his brain has just received. “Oh God! How will he react?“, Anika managed to finally get back under her own control. “Will he start to cry? Will he get aggressive?“, sure, she knew him for quite some time and anger was never a characteristic he had shown. “He will start crying!“, Anika predicted, already thinking about a way how to dissolve the situation for the moment. “Maybe it is the best, if I just leave?“, she asked herself, thinking about where she has left her God damn car keys.
“Micheal, are you ok?“, the counter question seemed to be unnecessary! Obviously he was not. His arms hanging left and right from his motionless body, the shoulders down, the head slightly bend to the front, staring into the sheer endless space beyond the floor of his family home. But Micheal said nothing. He just stood there, as if petrified. Anika started to feel very bad! How could she, after all he had done for her in the last two years, ditching him on Christmas Eve just like that. She did not even allowed him to explain himself, to express his feelings, to do whatever he had practiced at least a thousand times in front of the mirror. How could she be that cold! That frosty? That emotionless? Anika risked another glimpse. But still, there was not more than pure disappointment written all over his face. “Oh Micheal! I am so sorry! I wish I could, but I just can’t! Not right now!”, she thought, but said nothing.
To be continued tomorrow in PART IV.
See you next time!