After a quick but steamy shower, Isobel wipes down the bathroom mirror with her towel so that she can begin applying mascara. Running a few minutes late for Xavier’s sister’s New Year’s Eve dinner, she has her hair in large blue curlers with a black bra and black sequin leggings on.
“I don’t need you to tell me how to talk to my sister,” Xavier says sharply. He is changing Rudy’s diaper on their bed with a pair of white boxer briefs on and his outfit set out by his wife on the bed next to him.
She rolls her eyes as she starts pulling her hair out of the rollers, even though he has his back to her. Isobel would like to avoid an argument with her husband before spending the night with his family, but she can’t help herself. “I don’t expect you to get it, but seriously. It’s not funny to anybody but you. Tonight is about spending time with your sister and your parents. Don’t ruin it by being a… you-know-what,” she chooses not to name the male appendage she would like like after glancing at Rudy out of the corner of her eye.
“You need to relax. I’ve known my sister a lot longer than you have.”
Xavier’s sister Caroline is a decade older than he is, so his relationship with her is a cross between a big sister and a young aunt. While he was attending an all-male Catholic school in his teens, she was starting a family with her wife Lisa. Even though his family is conservative, they were accepting of the relationship and went on the treat Lisa as a member of the family. This made their family like harmonious and inclusive, but it made Xavier’s life at school a challenge. Even though he played sports and always had a steady girlfriend, he was still alienated for having a modern family before it was seen as a novelty by most Americans.
Caroline and Lisa live in a Spanish style home in Miami Shores with their two sons. They host a New Year’s Eve dinner for their families every year complete with catering and a live band. Xavier’s nephews are in middle school and he now serves as their male role model and godfather, a job he takes very seriously. Having been with Xavier for a decade, Isobel has formed a close relationship with Caroline based on their similar worldview.
“Oh, but just because you’ve known her longer doesn’t mean you know her better,” Isobel says before calling for Emilia to put on a winter white cardigan over her periwinkle dress. New Year’s weekend brought a slight chill to Miami and with a chance of rain, Isobel wants to make sure her daughter was properly covered up.
“Whatever bro,” Xavier says, shaking his head as he buttons down his tartan plaid shirt. While temperature has remained close to eighty in Miami for most of December, it has been a very cold month in his household. He expected things to go back to normal after the contentious election cycle divided his family based on political ideology, but he can still feel the effects as they prepare to welcome a new year.
He and Isobel have always felt like their political differences balanced out their relationship. And the fact that his wife and sister are on the same side of the political spectrum bonded them in a way that Xavier couldn’t relate to. This dynamic has helped Isobel form a tight bond with his sister, but the events of 2016 have made him feel alienated once again, albeit for different reasons than when he was a kid.
“Momma, is Aunt Esthie coming?” Emmie asks as she walks into the bedroom with her cardigan on.
“No baby, but you’ll see her tomorrow.”
With Zika transmissions no longer a threat in her area, Esthie has begun the process of moving her things back into the apartment she shares with Dominick. This shift in the household dynamic is welcomed by Xavier, who feels like the odd man out in his own home. He gets along with Esthie for the most part, but he can’t help but feel threatened by the fact that his wife has a clone in the other room.
“Are you excited to have your room back, Princess?”
Emmie frowns and turns to her mother, who is facing the mirror putting her hair in a french braid. “Why does she have to go?”
“She’s not going far, baby. You’re gonna see her all the time.”
Once her hair and makeup are done, Isobel puts on a navy blue silk top with a neck tie over her sequin leggings and steps into her stilettos. “Alright, lets start getting in the car, we’re already late.”
Sitting on the edge of the bed while Rudy roams around the bedroom, Xavier scrolls through sports stats on his smartphone before starting the process of getting the kids in the car.
“Come on, Mr. President,” he says with a grin.
Isobel smiles at him as she sprays on her white floral perfume. She regrets the day she decided to dress her kids up as the presidential candidates for Halloween. Election 2016 is something that she would like to move forward from, but her husband doesn’t show any signs of letting it go.
“You used to find me hilarious before we got married,” he remarks as they turn off the bedroom light and walk down the hall.
“You’re a lot funnier when you’re not trying so hard, Babe.”