Bruce was sleeping so heavily that he didn’t wake up when Liza’s cell went off two feet from his head. It was Jake checking to make sure that she was okay before he went to bed. Liza switched the phone to vibrate and texted back that she was fine.
Bruce passed out on Liza’s sofa an hour ago. They put up the tree and decorated it with random objects from around the house: buttons, cotton balls, beach tags, beads from an old chandelier, curled pieces of ribbon, and soda tabs. After freeing Liza from the tree box, Bruce went for the box of ornaments. They were her parents’. Some were from family vacations, others were inscribed with their names. There were homemade ornaments, ornaments that marked milestones, and ornaments that showcased favorite activities or movie characters. Liza wanted to rip the box out of his hands and put it out on the curb. This was a bad idea. Bruce seemed to know what she was thinking. He put the box back, shut the door, and ushered her up to the living room ahead of him. The makeshift ornaments were his idea. Liza loved the way they looked..
They watched a Christmas episode of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia while they worked. Afterwards they ordered pizza. Bruce hesitated at sitting on the sofa. He ran his hands down the front of his hoodie. “I was…doing some work outside earlier. I don’t want to get your sofa dirty.” Liza gave him a pair of scrub pants and a large t-shirt that she wore to bed while she washed his clothes. Four pieces of pizza, two glasses of iced tea, and half of Scrooged later, and Bruce was asleep.
Their conversation was easy, but they avoided talking about what happened over the summer. Liza still wanted an explanation, but not at the cost of him staying. Whatever the reason for him blowing her off, she had a hard time believing that it was done out of malice. He’d helped her twice without being asked, and without taking credit.
As she sat there sketching in the glow of the tree lights, her mind wandered to the camping trips that her family took when she and Laura were little. The woods around the cabin where they stayed were always loaded with rabbits. Liza was fascinated by them. The only wild animals in the city were pigeons, squirrels, and rats. Liza would spend hours chasing the rabbits with a long fishing net. She didn’t want to hurt them, just get a closer look, maybe play with them. At first, she ran after the rabbits, but that never even got her close. Liza realized that you had to approached them slowly. She was still never able to catch one, but if she took her time, sometimes they would relax and let her get close. Her relationship with Bruce reminded her of this.