"You will be there for midnight Mass, won't you?" Father Keegan gave Heath a pat on the back. School was out, but there was still 7 a.m. Mass.
"Of course." Heath tried his best not to wince. It felt mandatory, somehow. There could be three feet of snow on the ground then and snow plow troubles, but there still would be Mass. After all, he was in walking distance, wasn't he?
Father Keegan then introduced him to Miss Reyes. She was young and had been there since the beginning of the school year.
Heath did his best to be cordial enough. Heath hoped the priest didn't expect anything more. He was certain. He'd only speak to her when asked too.
"Maria, he has no where to go for Christmas, either." Father Keegan smiled.
Heath thought he might throw up. How could one old man be so nosey? Heath hugged himself as if he'd so much rather be alone than have to put on a gracious act of some kind.
"We're having a little Christmas dinner at Mrs. Stanley's house. You're welcome to come." She told him. "You wouldn't have to bring a thing."
Heath just nodded. He was still eating off the school secretary's casserole. Mrs. Stanley was a pretty good cook. He just hoped Father Keegan didn't think he was fixing them up. Because he wasn't. Father Keegan smiled, backing away, as if he'd done his job for the moment.
"So where are you from?" She smiled.
"Omaha." He said off the top of his head. People seemed to remember that city, somehow. Maybe it had something to do with Omaha steaks. "And you?"
"North Dakota." She sighed.
"And you're not going home?" He figured she'd know snowy roads well.
"No." She shrugged. "It's a lot colder there than here, so its pretty much a vacation."
"So you like teaching here?" he nodded.
"I guess." She kept even lipped about it. "It could be worse."
"Well, you sound very level headed about all this." He looked at her.
"Yeah, well, its a far cry from being a rock star," she laughed. "But at least my parents aren't here to badger me about not having a career."
"So if they were closer, you wouldn't be going home?"
"Of course not." She smiled.
Heath had to admit that he liked her independence. He wasn't so sure he had it in him. At the moment, he felt as if he'd amputated himself from the life he knew, and he felt quite naked and perhaps drowning in his own mess.