Season Three, Episode Eleven: Home for the Holidays
Thanksgiving billows quietly in the air. Sure to show it's face in the coming days. Cora is built up with anticipation, in honor of Harlow's return from college for the holidays. With Knoxx planted firmly by her side, Cora looks out onto the horizon of the future with optimistic eyes and a mind set at ease. Though she knows the waves will surface as time winds down and Knoxx prepares to leave for basic training. A small knot forms in her chest, but Cora wills it away and reminds herself to stay strong.
As Cora brings her thoughts back to the present, she stares blankly and the books and papers scattered in front of her. To her left, Luca lazily adjusts himself accordingly in an arm chair. His face, unlike Cora's is riddled with focus, frantically trying to complete a paper due the following day. On the floor, Ryder lies, sprawled across the rug. Cora catches a glimpse of his face and notices he's sleeping. She lets out a small chuckle and begins to rythmically tap her pencil on her notebook. To her right, Cora notices her phone light up. And within seconds, the whole chair is vibrating, whilst the phone dances away. The caller id reads Harlow; Butterflies form in Cora's belly. She happily stops the phone from dancing and answers it with excitement in her voice.
Harlow: "Hey girl! I have news!
Harlow: "I'm coming home for thanksgiving..."
Cora: "I already knew tha....
Harlow: "...and I am bringing my boyfriend, Ian!"
Cora: "..you have a boyfriend?"
Harlow: "Yeah, he's amazing. Wait until you meet him. You'll fall in love."
Cora: "That's great and all, but why haven't you called?"
Harlow: "Oh, I've been super busy with sorority stuff."
Cora: "I don't mean to sound like I'm not happy for you, because I am. I just wish that you would take a second to call and fill me in."
Harlow: "I know, and I'm sorry. But we will hang out for sure when I come home. Anyway, I have to go. Love you, darling. Bye!"
Before Cora could mutter a word, the call comes to an abrupt end. Leaving Cora frazzled and unable to process the details of the call properly. She sits with a face marked with confusion. Luca's eyes meet Cora's. "What was all of that about?" he questions. "That was all about Harlow. The first time she has called since she left for college and she only makes enough time to babble on about herself. She didn't even ask how I was doing. Apparently bringing Ian home for Thanksgiving was more important." Cora says, tongue tingling with annoyance. Ryder wakes up just in time for the conversation. "Wait, who's Ian?" Ryder says, puzzled. "Harlow's new boyfriend. The one she forgot to mention, along with the sorority she joined. I guess she is just that busy." Cora remarks in a monotone voice. "In your defense, you are just as busy as she is, yet you made time to call her." Luca states in defense of Cora. Ryder nods his head in agreeance while Luca ponders a way to change the subject. "Speaking of Thanksgiving, what are your plans, Cora?" Luca questions with true curiosity. "Not having dinner with my family, obviously. Knoxx invited me to eat with his family." Worry washes over Ryder and Luca in unision. "You two are getting awfully close. Doesn't that worry you?" Ryder hesitates to say. "It does." Cora sighs. "But what am I supposed to do?" "I wish I knew what to say. But I cannot help you there. But I do hope everything turns out okay." Luca says reasurringly. "We're always here if you need us, you know that." he finishes. "Yeah, we won't flake out on you like Harlow did." Ryder blurts out. Feeling the true power of word vomit. Luca's eyes dart to Ryder and convey a message that urges him to keep quiet. Silence captures the room momentarily, until Luca breaks the spell. "I hate to leave on a sour note, but this paper isn't going to edit itself." "Yeah, no problem." Cora says, understanding the hatred of papers all too well. "I've got to get ready to meet Knoxx for our date, anyway. See you guys later?" Cora smiles. The boys leave Cora after traditional hugs and goodbyes.
A quaint coffee shop near Cora's apartment houses many iron tables, paired with chairs and umbrellas. On the patio of said coffee shop, Knoxx sits patiently, waiting for Cora to arrive. On schedule, as usual, Cora makes he way to the table. A smile plays on her face as she takes a seat across from Knoxx. Her gloved-covered hands find his and for a moment, eyes are all that spoke. Knoxx places a soft kiss on Cora's lips to signal the end of the silence. Cora licks her lips at the taste of hot chocolate. "Mmm, hot chocolate." Cora smiles. "They're delicious, aren't they?" Knoxx laughes. "I ordered you one too." The conversation carries on lightly; favorite holiday foods, family traditions and old memories. Cora smiles at the arrival of her hot chocolate. The creamy chocolate drink warms her chest as it travels down her throat. "How was your day?" Knoxx questions, slowly sipping his hot chocolate. "Stressful and full of assignments. I also got a call from Harlow." Cora says blankly. "Oh yeah? How was that?" All emotion drained from Cora's face. "She's coming home for Thanksgiving, and she's bringing her boyfriend." the words spewed from Cora's mouth, like venom. "I didn't know she had a boyfriend." Knoxx said with confusion in his voice. "Neither did I." Cora remarked. As the cups were drained empty of their chocolately goodness, Knoxx and Cora were drained of time. With final exams in front of Cora, she hadn't the time to spend sipping hot chocolate all the day long. At the corner of Cora's block, the couple departed; their kisses still hanging in the air.
The last week of classes breezes by as Cora aces her exams and remains content with her work effort. The day before the Thanksgiving festivities are set to begin, Cora sits in her living room reading a novel. Immersed in the pages, she fails to hear the first knock at the door. The second one comes in louder than a marching band drumline, and Cora almost falls out of her chair. Shaking off the scare and setting down the book, she makes her way to the door. With the turn of a knob, and a pull of the door, Cora finds herself standing in front of Harlow. Before greetings could be spoken, Harlow attacks Cora with a giant, bear hug that knocks the wind from Cora's chest. Nevertheless, she returns the hug. In the background, Cora sees a more than average guy standing behind Harlow. She figured that must be Ian, and she didn't see what all the fuss was about. He was average size, a bit on the chubby side. Average features and mouse brown hair. But giving him a chance wasn't beyond her, so Cora welcomed them both inside. Back in the living room, a conversation formed from nothing, and grew from there. "This apartment looks the same as when I left months ago." Harlow says in a bored tone. "Yeah, the apartment hasn't changed too much." Cora replies. "But I am sure things here have." Harlow said, insinuating Cora had something to tell her. "I told you my good news, so now I am ready to hear yours...assuming you have any." Cora rolls her eyes and wonders why Harlow is acting so much differently. But before Cora could speak any of her good news, Harlow found herself interrupting once again. She pointed her finger to the still unintroduced boy sitting next to her. "By the way, this is Ian." Cora wonders if Harlow honestly thought she hadn't figured that out already. She extends her hand to greet him and not surprisingly, his handshake was as average as he was. While the conversation finally travels to Cora's end, Ian sits and looks uninterested. Yet Harlow is intrigued by all of the news she's finally being filled in on. "I told you Vance was a no life scum bag. Knoxx is a hottie, glad you two got together. Kind of blows that he's leaving, though. What a loser." Harlow rambles on. "Yeah....I guess. But the Army is his choice. I won't try and persuade him." Cora reasons. "So you're having dinner with his family?" Harlow says, moving right along. "I am." Cora smiles. "Goodness knows I won't be having a meal with my completely dysfunctional family.". "Ian and I are eating with my grandparents." Harlows boasts. And with one sentence her mood changes. She rises from the sofa and pulls Ian up with her, as if he's a life-size puppet. "Speaking of grandparents, we have to go now. They want to meet him before tomorrow." "Um...okay?" Cora says, looking puzzled. "Yeah, it was good to see you. We'll meet up again before I leave." Harlow insists. After Harlow and her boyfriend leave, Cora tries to brush off the weird visit and finish her novel.
The following day, Cora stared herself down in the full-length mirror. Dolled in a outfit of pure sophistication, she brushes a few strands of hair from her face and mists herself with perfume before finalizing her look with a few small accessories. After examining the finished product, Cora meets Knoxx at the front door. And his handsome face in collaboration with his clean-cut holiday look make for a jaw-dropping sequence. Cora simply smiles and takes his hand. The day was off to a great start, and it was sure to get better. The dinner went off without a hitch. Cora immediately fell in love with Knoxx's family. His aunts were ecletic and opinionated. Knoxx's father was mild-mannered and very complementive. While his mother was sweeter than the cherry-pie she made from scratch. And best of all, everyone knew how to cook. After leaving the dinner, Cora shot a proverbial arrow into Knoxx's heart and hoped it would keep them linked for life, because she felt truly happy and couldn't bare to lose the token to her happiness.
A day before Harlow would make her way back to college, she met with Cora at a nearby bookstore where they used to spend a lot of their time. In a small section at the back of the store, they sat across from each other in two plump chairs. Harlow flipped through a glossy magazine and Cora held one identical to it. "So where is Ian?" Cora asked, peering over the magazine. "He went back to campus a few days early to hang out with his friends." Harlow said, still glued to her copy of the magazine. "Oh...how was your Thanksgiving?" Cora questioned. "It was pretty good. My family doesn't really care for Ian, but I don't care. I met him while I was drunk, and I think I did a pretty good job." Harlow laughed. "So typical of you, Harlow. How is school going and your sorority?" "Amazing, I am having so much fun. Parties every night. I miss a few classes here and there, but it's worth it." Harlow smiled and set her magazine down. She reached for her bag and pulled out a pack of cigarrettes, along with a lighter. Cora had noticed that Harlow seemed to be caring less and less about things that used to be important to her. Her health was just one less thing for her to care about. "When did you start smoking!?" Cora gasped. "It's just a habit I picked up from Ian. I don't do it that often." Harlow remarked, nonchalantly. "I hope you know that smoking isn't good for you." Cora said flatly. "I'm not addicted." Harlow spat. "....yet." Cora sighed. She was positive that the conversation was going no where good. "Don't act like my mother." Harlow growled. "I'm not acting like your mother." Cora protested. "If I was your mother, I would beat some sense into you.". "Oh really. Look, I don't have to sit here and listen to you criticize my decisions." Harlow said defensively. "I mean look at you; dating a moron like Vance and then having a mental breakdown about it.". Cora's eyes turned angry. She was appauld that Harlow had the audacity to say something of that caliber. "Harlow, that was low. We're friends, you shouldn't be treating me like this." Cora said in an all too serious tone. "You started it; not my fault." Harlow said childishly. "You are acting like a child, I am leaving." Cora said as she gathered her bag and discarded the magazine. "Good." Harlow spat. Cora exited the bookstore and reached for her keys. As she made her way to her car she thought to herself.
"That's my best friend...or she used to be my best friend. I don't know who she is anymore."