The different scents and aromas surround the small home while family gather around the small living room area. A baby in a yellow and orange dress, Willow, is seen crawling around the carpet in the living room, while Grace sits on the couch, supervising her, while Max sits in the spot next to her. An older woman, Mollie, loudly curses as she pulls something out of the oven.
Grace: Mom, you sure you don’t want any help?
Mollie: I’m fine, this damn Turkey is just so fucking heavy…
An older man walks in from a room, hearing the conversation.
Weston: Babe, language.
Mollie: Fuck, sorry– *realizing* Shit, ugh– *covers her mouth*
Weston walks over to Mollie and hugs her around the waist with one hand and gently kisses her head. Grace smiles at the affection between her parents. She turns around to see Max pick up Willow from the floor and onto his lap on the sofa. Grace and her parents gather around the living room area once more; the Thanksgiving Parade playing on the television in front of them.
Mollie: Willow looks so pretty in her dress today!
Max smiles while Willow loudly coos in his lap. Grace smiles from the side of the couch.
Max: It was fitting for the occasion; if it were up to Willow, she would live in her pajamas all day.
Mollie: Ahhh, like grandma like granddaughter.
Max laughs while Grace watches the encounter with her mother and Max. She knows how much Mollie likes Max; why wouldn’t she? He’s a good father to Willow, he’s respectful and since the very first time they met, Mollie and Max hit it off. At first, Grace was ecstatic that her mom, out of all the people in the world, would like her then ex-boyfriend/fiancee. Now, it seems like no matter what Grace does with her life, her mother will never approve, constantly hoping that Grace will work things out with Max for the sake of Willow.
Willow is playing with a stuffed animal while sitting on Max’s lap.
Weston: So, how’s the case coming along, kid?
Grace: It’s going alright. We have to get some last minute details here and there before we present it to the court in a couple of weeks. Hopefully we close it off before Christmas.
Mollie looks at Weston and Grace while they speak, and Max follows.
Weston: That would be a relief if it is wrapped up before the holidays; new year, new case.
Grace: Tell me about it.
Weston grabs two beers from the fridge and hands one to Grace. He asks Max if he would like one, to which he shakes his head and declines. Weston takes one for himself and sits on the armchair of Mollie’s seat.
Weston: How have you’ve been, Max? It’s been a while since we’ve last seen you.
Max: I know, I live outside of the city now; I teach at Fordham University.
Mollie: *chimes in* Really? That’s a good school to be teaching at.
Max: Yeah, it’s definitely been refreshing to be teaching law students instead of being one myself.
Grace chugs her beer down while listening to the conversation. Mollie warily looks at Grace.
Mollie: I remember when I first started teaching at the high-school. It was so nerve-wrecking to teach students dance positions than me having to do them myself and learn them.
Grace burps loudly. The attention is now on her.
The room is silent. Grace continues to drink out of a beer bottle. Mollie gets up from her seat when the timer goes off.
Mollie: Grace, can you come help me out in the kitchen?
Grace places the bottle on the side table, Max watches her.
Max: Take that with you, Grace; I don’t want Willow spilling it.
Grace rolls her eyes and takes the bottle with her. She walks towards the kitchen to her mother. She places the bottle on the counter; Mollie turns around and hands Grace a can opener and a couple of cans.
On the island, Grace is opening cans while Mollie is getting trays and casserole dishes together. Not much is said, but Grace periodically stops in her tracks to look at her phone.
Jamie: Hope your Thanksgiving is going well, Gracie.
She smiles at the message.
Grace: Thank you, Jamie. Happy Thanksgiving to you as well.
She puts her phone in her pocket once again and looks up. Her mother didn’t seem to notice.
Mollie: I’m glad that you and Max were able to put your differences aside and come together for the holidays.
Grace: Yeah, I guess.
Mollie finally looks up to Grace.
Mollie: Are you two working things out?
Grace stops what she’s doing. In the short period of time she’s known her mother, she realized just how blunt and honest she was. She never keeps what she’s thinking to herself, she will always find a way to bring her feelings about something up. Grace quickly realized that’s where she gets that quality from: her mom.
Grace: *continues her task* No Mom, we are not. Things are still the same.
Mollie: So you guys are still playing these childish games?
Mollie: I’m just saying. You guys should at least talk about things for Willow’s sake.
Grace stops and closes her eyes. She looks back up to Mollie; annoyed. Before she says something , her Mollie stops her in her tracks.
Mollie: Do better than I did. Don’t follow into my footsteps.
Grace laughs to herself and continues to help prep side dishes. She wishes her mother didn’t know her as well as she actually did. They are literally the same person, but Grace already knows that about them.
Grace: I’m not. We’re co-parenting. I’m still here for Willow, and–
Mollie: And what happens if Max starts to bring around another woman around Willow? What if Willow grows up with a step-mom? How would you feel if Max was just playing house with another woman with your daughter?
Grace: *annoyed* Is that what you thought about me? You thought I was stupid enough to allow another woman in dad’s life to play “mommy”? You think Willow would just up and say, “huh, y’know, fuck mom! I’m gonna call this random woman my mom!”
Mollie: No, that’s not what I mean. Willow deserves a family.
Grace: She has a family! She has both her parents in her life, Mom! She has more than I ever did at her age!
Mollie stares at Grace. The room is quiet. Grace stares at her mother head-on. She shakes her head and continues preparing the food. Mollie stands there.
Mollie: What if Max moves away? Takes her back to England? Be close to his family? He technically has full custody over her and I just–
Mollie’s voice cracks. She stops her thought and turns around, away from Grace. She faces the stove and continues to prep the food. Grace continues to look down, doesn’t say a word.
Later that night…
Back in Grace’s apartment, Grace sits on the floor with a bottle of wine next to her. She lifts the glass to her lips, defeated. Her phone on the floor lights up, she reads the message on the screen.
Max: Remember that you take Willow next week; I’m going back home to visit my mum.
Grace doesn’t respond; she leaves the phone on the ground. More wine goes into her glass. Chug. Her eyes watered, tears fall down her face. She closes her eyes.
Grace sits on the bathroom floor, knees to her chest. A man’s hand is placed on top of her knees, reassuring her. She looks over to her left; Max smiles at her. He looks down and takes her hand, squeezes it and kisses the top of her hand.
Max: No matter what happens, we will be okay.
Grace: How can you be so sure?
Max takes Grace and lifts her in his lap. Max holds her while Grace is still in fetal position. He kisses her head gently and looks down at her.
Max: Because we’ll do this together. You won’t have to this alone, babe.
Grace looks up and smiles at Max. He returns the smile back. The phone on the counter rings; the timer is going off. Grace springs up, facing away from the counter. She takes deep breaths. Max follows her, hugs her from behind and rests his chin on her head.
Max: No matter what.
Grace takes in a deep breath.
Grace: No matter what.
Both Max and Grace count to 3; once they reach to 3, they turn around and face the counter. They both look down at it.
The door knocks and Grace opens her eyes. She slowly gets up from the floor, and walks to the door. Without looking, she opens the door.
Jamie stands there in a trench coat, black jeans, boots, a black button down with a black turtleneck underneath. He looks at Grace with a hint of worry, but instantly changes when he finds Grace immediately hugging him, crying. Jamie hugs her back, tightly in his arms.
Jamie: Shhh, it’s okay, Gracie.
Nothing. Grace just continues to sob in Jamie’s arms.