Gary and Marge are not talking to each other. Their ski condo has a museum like quality, a study in post modern cubism. The furniture are either perfect squares or contains several perfect squares, as was Marge's sweater. Outside the large square windows, you can see several snow-capped mountains in the distance and the village square just below. A seventy feet Christmas tree blinked to the rhythm of carols. "It's the most - wonderful- time, of the year."
Their two boys aren't talking either. They sit facing each other in the living room, chatting online through the video game messaging system. In between firing bombs and gun shots at the figurines running for their lives, they type random things.
Like how skiing is boring since they lost their sister Katy. They were skiing in Colorado three years ago when she wandered off, down a side shoot no one knew existed. She wore a bright pink helmet and matching parka so she would have been easy to spot but apparently so much snow tumbled down after her, it set off an avalanche. The Ski patrol didn't cover that area so it took them hours to get there and more hours to not find her. Snow fell heavily through the night and the next day so you couldn't see anyone if they stood right in front of you. After three days they lost hope.
Marge didn't cry then, she fussed over every surface in the house, wiping them clean and wiping them again. She wiped her face even when there was no tears coming down and she combed her hair until her scalp started to bleed onto the comb. She washed out that comb in the kitchen sink for hours before throwing it out, saying "the darn water just wouldn't stop dripping".
Gary cried for weeks, a wet sobbing blob on the couch, at the police station, while talking to ski patrol on the side of the mountain. His tears froze on his face one day, leaving angry pink patches afterwards, like someone had combed his face too hard. They reminded them of Katy - pink was her favorite color. She was ten that year and already an accomplished skier. She dreamed of going to Harvard and becoming a journalist.
"No! You cheater, you always steal all my secret weapons. No fair!" Kyle yells and shut the lid down on his computer, ignoring Alan's mumbling replies. "You always do this when you lose. If you can't take it then don't play with me."
He stomp into the kitchen and ask Marge "when is dinner going to be ready?"
Marge is silently stirring something into a pot of soup. When she sees Kevin she announces:
"Dinner is ready, just set the table boys."
Then she pours the soup down the drain, slowly so there is no splash onto the counter or the sides of the sink.
They eat in silence. Gary sit next to Kyle and Marge huddles over a plate of sauerkraut. She read somewhere it was good for her digestions. She's always full when she sit down for meals but hunger strikes as soon as she puts away the dishes. The sauerkraut experiment tonight seems as reasonable as anything else so she stuffs it down. The boys get busy scraping clean platters of roast chicken, fried shrimp, beef and potatoes stews. Kyle picks on his shrimp, peeling off pieces of shells one by one. The rest of his food grows cold but he works on freeing his food from its exterior skeleton. Alan finds hair wrapped around his pasta but he barely pauses before continue eating.
Gary's phone rings, he jumps to answer.
"Hi Gary, this is Mark. We've got a problem. The investors are backing out and we don't have enough cash to last through the month. "
"Shit. I thought you said the deal was sealed, practically."
"Well it's definitely unsealed now. They woke up this morning and changed their minds. I've been on the phone with them for hours. This is how it goes in this business."
"Can we sell off some assets?"
"You know we're leasing everything. We've got to loose those big wigs in your team and have a fire sale of directors."
"Jeez. It's Christmas eve."
"Gotta do it, buddy. Better this way so they can start looking in the new year."
"Can't we wait? I want to give the investors another try, it's the holiday seasons, damn it! ... There's always crowd sourcing too."
"Not for ten million. We owe the bank and can't make payroll. The investors are locked on their decisions. Well, practically."
"You don't want to know."
"They..., no it's a show stopper so forget it."
"Mark, come on. We are equal partners. Don't even think of hiding any conditions from me! Out with it now, I can take it!"
"They - they want to replace you. They have their own Harvard Finance man with his eyes on a project like ours. They are all set on this or -"
"It's snowing!" Kyle rushes to the window and shouts back. Marge stops putting away the dishes and Alan looks up from his computer. Fat dollops of snow dances onto streetlamps, slick roads and that giant Christmas tree, dimming the lights and hushing the music. Everything is brighter in their new white coat, even cars slow in salute to the fresh fallen snow. The wind is picking up, thrashing away at branches and window panes.
Gary moves behind his family, eyes glazing over the mountains, the snow and the twinkling Christmas lights. He lowers his still blaring phone and throws it at the window. The sound of glass breaking, Kyle's scream and blood splashing onto his hand washes over him, waking him from his trance.