Once and Again

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Niki: A | Grade It Now!

Eli surveys the gingerbread house, groaning dangerously under the weight of all its confectionery adornments. "I wouldn't put any more on there if I were you," he warns Jamie. Jamie snaps that he knows what he's doing. Drying the dishes, Judy watches the exchange and then cocks her head. She creeps out into the hallway to better hear Sam on his cell phone. He says, "He hates my place....Yeah, I know that's not your problem. But will you talk to him?...Oh, come on, that's so unfair." Judy creeps back into the kitchen just in time to watch Jamie pressing one last gumdrop onto the gingerbread roof. He pushes too hard and crushes the whole thing in his hands. And then he runs away. Jessie stands in the doorway, surveying the damage and trying not to hyperventilate. Then she starts crying and rushes out of the room, despite Karen's efforts to calm her. Karen stares at the gingerbread heap, muttering, "All right, what can we do? May...maybe we could just sing?" She tries to raise some support, but Eli crushes the suggestion and her feelings, saying, "No one wants a sing-along, Mom. No one ever wanted a sing-along." Seeing her face, he apologizes, but Karen waves it away, saying, "No, I just had too many expectations, that's all." Sam wanders in, announcing that Jamie is going to stay with him tonight, and sounding like he's been sentenced to walk the green mile. He realizes the kid's not there, and goes off in search of him.

Sam wanders into the dim living room and follows the sound of tearing paper, saying, "Hey, hey, hey, hey, hey!" He rushes over to the tree, where Jamie is angrily tearing the gift wrap off a huge keyboard. Sam gently tries to restrain him and hold him in his lap. Karen and Judy look on. Sam says, "You can't just go into somebody's house and mess everything up, okay?" He tells the kid to look at him and says, "This is not your house; none of this stuff is yours." Jamie, insulted, says he knows that. The adults just sit there looking sad.

"Okay, I know you want to push, but just try to hold on," Lily coaches. Tiffany wails, "I know! 'Cause you had two perfect babies, and your perfect husband, because you're perfect!" Lily looks like she's been slapped. "I don't know where you heard that," she says, laughing at herself and remembering that she had twenty-two hours of labor with Grace, and she was "screaming for drugs," and with Zoe, she "was so wiped out [she] just gave up."

Time passes, and Tiffany starts relating that her mom always told a story, when she was drunk, about how she almost died having Tiffany, and Tiffany always thought she was just being horrible and mean. Lily leans in and whispers, "Hey, you're not gonna die. You're just having a baby." Tiffany laughs and immediately starts crying.

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Once and Again




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