Andie swallows down a flinch each time she hears her father yell at the tv in his study, shouting along with the game, calling out terrible plays and fumbles. She quietly wonders how much he might have had to drink already (obviously his previous talk of rehab and sobriety have not been realized just yet) and how that might impact dinner. Tries to judge which team is winning from his too loud words and silently calculate what that might mean for his mood the rest of the evening. Counts down the seconds before her brothers arrive and wonders why she ever thought of coming over on her own before them, anyway. And with each scream at the tv she's glad they're passed the years of having to sit by his side, watching the game with her father.
To say the night is a blur is an understatement. Andie is used to it by now, a sad fact for a teenager. But she is all the same, accustomed to waking up in strange places with only a foggy memory of how she might have gotten there, head pounding as nausea washes over her. It's not the most pleasant feeling, and yet something about this morning somehow feels worse. She has a recollection of going to a party to meet up with some friends.
During dinner her mother grills the boys about their love lives, when they'll bring someone home for her to meet, if anyone special will join them for Christmas. They answer the questions with a casualty that makes Andie envious. That they can take in the questions and simply brush them off with a comment is impressive to her, where she takes it all to heart. Which is exactly what she does when the questions are turned on her, and considering the complications she seems to have gotten her heart into lately, it's the last thing she wants to think about. But her older brother, sitting beside her at the table, can sense her discomfort immediately, cracks a joke at her expense, something about new song material before flashing a mischievous grin, and then changes the subject. He's always been her greatest aly.
When it's time for dessert, the brothers swipe a pie and an assortment of everything else waiting on the counter in the kitchen, grab Andie and disappear out of the house. They'll all be in trouble later for leaving without a proper goodbye but none of them particularly care. Instead of being stuck any longer in that stuffy formal dining room, they wind up on the beach at her brother's house. Sharing pie straight from the dish with three forks and a comfortable silence. It turns out to be the best part of her holiday, this time with her brothers, her real family.
Her phone is full of texts and voice messages of well wishes for the holiday and good, positive thoughts. It's her work phone, her fan phone, but it's appreciated just as much as if they were her own friends and family. It feels like it is, that they are. And scrolling through and reading them, replying to as many as she can, almost makes her forget that someone important hasn't replied to her own message. She's thankful for the distraction.