Squire’s Isle Created by Geonn Cannon

12 Days of Squire’s Isle Christmas: 7 Minutes of Dead Air

Summary: Nadine and Miranda don’t let their personal lives get in the way of their work. Usually.

“It’s that magical time of year, boys and girls,” Nadine Powell said into the microphone. “That wonderful week where it’s all holiday music, all the time, and still a week away from being sick to death of hearing holiday music nonstop. And yes, I’m saying holiday music and not Christmas music, because we’re mixing it up a little and playing all kinds of music for y’all here. There’s a whole lot of controversy about saying happy holidays instead of merry Christmas, and I think that’s a little elitist. Well, a lot elitist. Christmas is the grand poobah of holidays going on right now, but there are so many others happening. And just because someone isn’t celebrating one particular holiday doesn’t mean they can’t take part.

“Let’s forget about labels for a second and just boil things down to their bare minimum. What we’re doing is deciding for one month at the end of the year to sit down and appreciate one another. With gifts and with our presence – that’s presence with a ‘c’, by the way – and we go out of our way to honor each other on the coldest nights of the year, when we really should just stay in bed wrapped in our cozy comforters. We put aside hurts and grievances and just focus on the really important things in life.

“Sorry to venture into this territory, but I think it’s important that we remember that the biggest holiday going on right now was… well, let’s just say it was appropriated from an entirely different holiday and imbued with meaning from an entirely different religion. It’s not the name of the holiday that’s important. It’s not whether you put up a tree or light candles in your window. What’s important is that you put aside selfishness and be kind to each other. Right now we’re going to take a commercial break so we can acknowledge the retailer’s religion, and when we come back we’ll have more music for you. Stick with me. I’m your Pixie, Nadine Butler, and I’ll be here for another two hours. See you soon.”

She disconnected and took off her headphones as the commercial began playing, ruffling her hair and leaning back in her chair. She’d never been happier that she’d chosen to keep her maiden name for broadcasting. Being Nadine Butler allowed her to ignore all the things going on with Nadine Powell so it didn’t spill over into the airwaves. Things like exhaustion, frustration, and a general irritation with the woman she lived with, the woman whose name she had taken.

Miranda was currently in her office with the door closed. They had been awake together that morning, but neither had said much. The night before was still echoing off the walls of the living room. She knew exactly what the fight had been about, and she was smart enough to know the fight hadn’t really been about any one thing. They were both human beings, and they got on each other’s nerves from time to time. They argued and disagreed. Last night had been a royal battle, a culmination of weeks of built-up slights had burst out in a single volley of harsh words.

They called a truce for dinner, and that changed into silently watching television together until Miranda went to get ready for bed. Nadine usually stayed up for a while watching TV or reading, but tonight she didn’t want to risk waking Miranda and sparking round two of their argument when all she wanted was to sleep. She had waited until she heard the shower running and snuck down the hall, changed into her pajamas, and crawled under the blankets. She was mostly asleep when Miranda came out of the bathroom, so it wasn’t exactly faking… not exactly…

She still felt guilty about it, and about giving her wife the cold shoulder that morning. She had been in the wrong, but so had Miranda. Nadine countered a valid argument with a similarly truth-based gripe, and around they went. It frightened her how quickly they’d gotten angry with each other. Normally fights were short-lived and easily remedied, but this one was dragging out into its second day. She didn’t feel like apologizing, and she doubted Miranda would take the step, either. So they were stuck in their neutral corners waiting for the other one to get over the hurt feelings first.

The commercials were coming to an end, so she put her headset back on. She thought about what she’d said as she set up the next block of music. It was a time to put aside grievances, to be kind to one another… why did that have to be so difficult? The final commercial was for the annual island Christmas festival. She remembered the first one she and Miranda attended as a couple, the first time they’d really gone out in public as a couple. The island was still getting used to the idea of openness, and she felt awkwardly on-display as they held hands in the rafters. A few months earlier she’d been hit in the face with a rock simply because she was gay. She pushed up her glasses and touched the bridge of her nose. The promised scar had never developed, thank goodness, but sometimes she thought the skin there felt different. She remembered passing out from the shock of what happened, but most of all she remembered Miranda being with her that day. On the day everyone else seemed to be giving up on her, Miranda risked her own job by staying.

Nadine let the commercial end, then sent it directly to a cover of John Lennon’s “Happy X-Mas (War is Over).” She took off her headphones and left the booth. She paused in front of Miranda’s door, head down as she tried to think of what she was going to say, then rapped her knuckles against the door.

“Yes?” The word was terse, frustrated, and Nadine almost chickened out. But she opened the door and slipped inside. Miranda looked up and a weird combination of expressions passed over her face. She was glad to see Nadine, but exhausted at what it might mean. She was obviously as tired of fighting as Nadine was. “Dean, I have a lot of work to get through here…”

“I know. I just wanted to say something. Six and a half years ago, I locked myself in my booth, and I don’t remember why anymore.”

Miranda looked at her. “Are you serious?”

“Yeah. I mean, yes, I remember that I came out and I started losing sponsors and all that. I remember Mr. Dugan telling you to fire me. I just don’t remember why I cared. Back then I thought I was losing everything. If this job was taken away from me, it was the end of the world. But at the time, I… I didn’t have anything to lose. Not really. I had a job. I had a crappy apartment and a girlfriend I didn’t love. I guess the job was the only thing I had back then that was worth fighting for. But now when I look back, that day gave me everything. It gave me you. And our life together. In retrospect, I should have given up the job and gone somewhere else to start over. I would have been able to rebuild. But now?”

She turned and twisted the lock on the door.

“Now I have something real to fight for. I’m not unlocking this door until I convince you to forgive me.”

Miranda stood up and looked down at her desk. “That’s not going to happen, Dean. I can’t forgive you for responding in kind when I acted like a bitch. I can’t forgive you for giving as good as you were getting. I was in a horrible mood yesterday because of budget shit and Mr. Dugan, and I took that out on you. And now you come in here and you say…” She reached up and put her hands against her eyes, and Nadine went to her.

They hugged, and Miranda kissed Nadine’s neck. “I’m sorry.”

Nadine shook her head. “It wasn’t you. I should have asked what was really wrong instead of lashing out.”

Miranda pulled back and kissed Nadine’s lips. “I love you.”

“Love you,” Nadine said. “I’m sorry.”

“I forgive you,” Miranda said with a sad smile. “Do you forgive me?”

Nadine shrugged. “If you think I need to. Sure. Any time. And if there’s anything you need forgiven for, it’s not bringing this up last night when I could have been a sympathetic ear instead of a sparring partner.” She kissed the corners of Miranda’s mouth. “But my ears still work today. So do you want to talk about it?”

“You don’t have time.”

“I have the time. I have a few songs set up, and if it goes over… well, I’ll have to ask the boss to forgive me. Come here.” She guided Miranda to the couch and sat down with her. “I’m here, sweetheart. Talk to me.”

Miranda took a deep breath and began to unload. The speaker in the corner of the office played soft music as she explained all the end-of-year bull she had to deal with, bending closer to Nadine with each word. Soon the music ended, but Miranda was still talking. Nadine didn’t make any move to stop her, figuring that her moral support was worth more than a little silence. Her listeners could deal with a little dead air; she had more important matters to deal with at the moment.


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