Poor Jenna had no idea what she was getting herself into. Rachel had warned her that it wasn't all puppies and flowers at home, but Rachel had known that her step sister Jenna simply didn't believe her and wouldn't until she saw for herself. The cold war between Rachel's mom and Jenna's dad was over. It was now time for naked aggression, drunken recrimination and bitter sarcasm and it was all just in time for Christmas.
Not that it was a surprise to anyone. The marriage had been on shaky ground for years. With Rachel's mother's constant cheating and Jenna's father's constant drinking and the long, loud fights that resulted from both Rachel knew things were going to go well. Jenna, however, having the luxury of still being away at college really had no clue just how bad it had become.
Rachel, sadly, didn't have that luxury. She had moved back home after dropping out of school after two years to get a crappy factory job and had quickly discovered that she just couldn't take it and moved back out of the house only a month later and into a crappy little upstairs apartment just to get away from all the yelling and flying whiskey bottles. That had been a few months ago and honestly she was surprised they hadn't given up the ghost already.
Jenna, however, was still under the delusion that Rachel had been exaggerating. Sure, she knew the facts of the situation, that her father had always been a bit of a drinker and that Rachel's mom was not quite the monogamous type, but she was absolutely certain that this was just another bad patch in a relationship that had suffered more than its share, but had always come out the other end seemingly stronger and better. Rachel almost admired her step sister's naïve sense of hope, but she really couldn't. She knew first hand that this just wasn't the same as the time her mom had slept with her boss or the time Jenna's dad had smashed up the Volvo while drunk on Jim Beam or a myriad of other incidents that had threatened her mother's second marriage.
No matter how bad it had gotten before it had always blown over. After a couple of weeks or maybe a month of constant fighting that was almost always followed by several months of relative peace, but this time that just didn't happen. It had been weeks now since they'd even slept in the same room let alone the same bed. Rachel had recently stopped doing laundry at their house even though with rent, bills, keeping herself in booze and weed and her car payment she could barely afford to eat because every time she was at the house she was either being used as a sounding board for various complaints about whichever one wasn't home ( she and her step father were actually quite close even though her mother had married him when she was already fifteen) or she spent most of her time hiding out back smoking while they either goaded each other in preparation for a fight or just plain yelled and screamed about whatever the issue of the day was.
Of course, she'd told Jenna all about this well before Christmas break, but Jenna just didn't want to believe it was that bad. Still, she did agree to Rachel's plan of staying at her apartment rather than at the house, but then only because Rachel convinced her it would be more fun to hang out and catch up somewhere they could get high without worrying too much about getting caught. This would prove to be a wise decision as Jenna quickly learned just how right Rachel had been.
Their parents didn't even make it through the first night without fighting. Of course, Jenna chose to ignore it and, luckily, that first night wasn't really all that bad. Neither was the second night, really. In fact, they were almost polite as they all had a nice dinner and unwrapped their presents with only minimal sniping. Jenna even insisted on staying the night that night and Rachel didn't argue with her for reasons she kept to herself.
What was the reason? Well, Rachel was gay and no one in her family had any idea. At least, as far as she knew no one did. Not that her being gay was the reason she was willing to let her sister spend the night at their parent's house. The night before she'd received a phone call from her most recent ex-girlfriend trying to get her to "come over and talk" which was essentially her backhand way of saying "I'm horny. Please come over so I can play mind games with you until I talk you into sleeping with me and then in the morning I'll reveal to you the fact that I'm still not ready to commit to a monogamous relationship." It was a game they'd been playing for months now and frankly, while Rachel hated the emotional head games, she was also incredibly horny. If Jenna hadn't been staying the night the night Ginger called she honestly would've given in then. Instead she called Ginger that night and had a night of great, but quickly regretted sex that proved to be the perfect starter for the next night with the family.
It wasn't until that night that Jenna was made to witness the shambles that was their unhappy little family and Rachel showed up feeling bitter and hung over and just in time to witness the climax of the evening's events. She also showed up just in time to dodge the telephone that was meant for her stepfather's head, but instead ended up in the front yard after passing through the section of space that had been occupied only a second before by Rachel's head.
She almost turned around and left, but Jenna came out of nowhere and grabbed her and pulled her into their old room where they remained for the next four hours or so talking about their parents while Rachel tried her best to not say "I told you so" too often and apologized countless times for turning off her phone and leaving Jenna without means of an escape. It wasn't a fun conversation in the least. They both loved Jenna's father and Rachel's mother, but it was clear that it was near the end of their marriage.
Of course, now that Rachel was there Jenna insisted they stay and wait it out. It wasn't until about eight o' clock with no real end in sight that she finally agreed to an exit after Rachel informed her that it just wasn't going to end until either one of them left or one of the neighbors called the police. Since neither seemed to be in any hurry to leave and Rachel just happened to have a quarter bag she'd picked up on the way over she felt it was best they get the hell out. Jenna was finally feeling inclined to listen to reason, so they attempted to leave without a word as soon as the sound of fighting died down enough for them to escape undetected.
It may have seemed weird to sneak out of their childhood home, but at that point they were fairly certain that their parents had likely forgotten they were there. Rachel had learned this lesson about a week after she moved back out when after a night of hiding in her room waiting for her laundry to finish she walked out with her garbage bag full of clothes thinking they'd both finally gone to bed only to catch them "making up" on the sofa. She had, of course, tried to just keep moving towards the door while averting her eyes and holding back her vomit, but her mother, of course, saw her and screamed and she learned that about the only thing more awkward then catching your parents having sex was having to have an angry conversation with them about it because they had no idea you were still home. After that she didn't even think about calling them for a full two weeks.
This time there was no gross parental sex going on in the living room, but they did run into Rachel's mother on their way out the door. She was standing outside smoking a cigarette something Rachel hadn't seen her do in years. She wasn't shocked to see them, at least not visibly. In fact, she really wasn't showing any emotion at all. It was awkward until Rachel tried to explain where they were going only to be interrupted by her mother saying "We're getting a divorce."
Neither girl had any idea what to say to that and Rachel's mother didn't really help all that much as she apologized with a dead voice before informing Jenna that her father wouldn't be around anymore, but that she was still welcome all in the same dead voice that didn't invite further inquiry. Jenna of course asked where her father was despite the coldness only to be answered with a blunt "I don't know and I don't care." This was followed slowly by a half hearted apology and a suggestion to call him when he sobered up.
After that there wasn't really all that much to say. Rachel just hugged her mother and promised to call her tomorrow and then Jenna did the same only without talking of a phone call. Rachel's mother didn't seem to notice and only said "Okay" as she tried to light another cigarette off of the last one unsuccessfully before throwing it to the ground with impotent anger. Rachel handed her mother her Zippo and she took it without a word before reminding them a bit rudely that they were leaving, so the girls got in Rachel's car and drove off as they watched Rachel's mother start to dial some number on the phone. Rachel could've guessed whose number it was, but, honestly, she didn't really care at that moment. She simply wanted to leave.
The ride back to Rachel's apartment was a little weird. Rachel and Jenna barely spoke at all. Mainly because there wasn't really too much to say, but also they were both a little lost in their own thoughts. They both secretly felt they should be a little more worried than they were, but, honestly, they were both more than a little relieved. Not happy by a long shot, but definitely relieved. It was a dark feeling that pretty much quieted even the thought of a conversation.
.... There is more of this story ...